Website / NationStates

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Imagine a game where about the only premise you get is that every player controls a nation. If they want, they can interact with others on a forum on the internet, about those nations.

This is the premise of the browser-based game NationStates. Despite (or because of) the very limited premise, Nation States can be played several ways, be it narratively (decide how your nation evolves through daily ethical issues that you alone can solve), competitively (try to become the world number one in Basket Weaving or some other area), creatively (Roleplay your nation on web forums, act out wars, resolve diplomatic crises, participate in World Cups or develop your Region) or even to play an aggressive metagame (using the game mechanics to "Raid" the regions of other players and vandalise them, or "Defend" against this).

As you might guess, NationStates means something different for everyone.

Based off the story Jennifer Government by Max Barry. But not really.

See also Cyber Nations, a nation sim game with more focus on gameplay.


NationStates (the actual nation-building simulator) contains examples of:

  • A.I.-Generated Economy: Nations have private sectors on which their policies can influe, whether for good or for bad.
  • Anarchy Is Chaos: Played straight. An anarchist nation is described as "in a state of perpetual fear, as a complete breakdown of social order has led to the rise of order through biker gangs." Contradicted and averted by the various performance indicators of a nation, however, most notably in that almost all nations of this sort have very strong economies.
  • Anti-Poop Socking: Taken to the extreme. Issues cannot come up faster than four per day, and it only takes a few minutes to read each issue and make your decision. Same goes for your occasional World Assembly votes. Beyond that there is nothing to do in this game. The Meta Game, on the other hand, can easily take all day if you let it.
    • That's only for nations that have been established (IE: Have resolved more than about 20 issues). When you first establish your nation, the first ten or so issues come one every half hour. After that, it cuts down to one issue per hour, then one every two hours, then one every four hours, before finally settling on one issue every six hours.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In one decision, the description starts out with "In a recent high profile trial in [nation] City, notorious mobster Maxine ‘The Octopus’ Barryotti was accused of murder, racketeering, grand theft, and jaywalking."
  • Artistic License – Economics: A somewhat simplistic economic engine leads to oddities such as nations with the strongest possible economy ratings having 100% tax rates (but sometimes higher for the wealthy), no private sector, and no government funds spent on economic production. And that's before we get into the economic models some players propose their nations run on. Some nations even deliberately fail economics to avert Mary Suetopia. Or become one.
  • As You Know: If you rule your nation with a sufficiently iron fist, you can encounter an issue where you survive an assassination attempt. The opening text?
    As you very well know, a masked stranger with a pistol made an attempt on your life but moments ago while you were out on your lunch break.
  • Author Appeal: The name of the nation, the type of government and its leadership (Monarch/President-for-Life/Sporting Superstar/Chief General/Jedi/Sith) is all named after the creator. It's their nation, after all.
  • Author Avatar: Pretty much the premise of the whole thing. Not all players though. Many people use it to play as different characters than themselves.
    • Also the creator of the game have been known to appear in Issues in various forms. Most notably there are many references to author Max Barry, such as Max Barry the author in issue #46 (Jennifer Government Censorship Row), Max Barry being named a beauty pageant queen as a result of pro-equality choices in Tiara Sign Of Oppression, Declare Feminists, and even a computer game called Super Barry Brothers.
    • Even the staff working on the game have references to themselves inserted within the issues. For example, the Pokemon-pastiches of Charchivemander, Noqoran, Gnejgar and Sleepypuff are all derived from the nation names of the Issue Editorial Staff.
  • Badass Army: Many nations want one, some have one. Defied by pacifist nations, though.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The entire Issues game is often set up around this premise, with effect lines showing a "corrupted wish" outcome on a decision. Increase aviation safety standards with more inspections? You get told that planes can be grounded for months simply because an inspector "didn't like the color". This is design-as-intended, and the exaggeration and satire is the game's purpose.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Comes up as an issue in gameplay frequently. Subverted by certain highly libertarian nations, some of whom don't even bother to conduct a census.
  • Bland-Name Product: There are several different types of products like this in the game which may appear in some issues. There's some irony here, in that the book that the game is based on openly uses the names of several real world brands as villainous mega-corporations, but in Nationstates its seen as standard practice to use parodic names. Examples include video-sharing site WhoTube, a role-playing game called Trials and Trolls, films called Exterminator 4: Salvation, Xenoform Resurrection and Transmorphers Vengeance of the Failbots. In fact, parodic references come up in a good half of the game's Issues.
  • Bread and Circuses: The issue We Who Are About To Die Would Rather Go Home allows your nation to institute gladiatorial fights to simultaneously entertain and to deal with rebellious elements.
  • Common Tongue: Every character within the game speaks English, even if they have foreign sounding names or if the player's nation represents a non English-speaking one. This may be an Acceptable Break From Reality as the game is created by and for English-speaking players. Also, within the game reality, several issues assume that while an issue is presented and written and English, the fictional people are speaking "the native tongue of NATION NAME".
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: There's lots of opportunity for embracing or battling corporate corruption, which is perhaps unsurprising given that the novel the game is based on is all about this.
  • Crapsack World: As a parody of the real world, there's all sorts of horrifying things going on, including nations which openly have slave-based economies, dumping of radioactive waste in international waters, intrusive surveillance societies and so-on.
    • In the fine detail, this trope is actually subverted when you look at some of the worldwide stats. For example, the nationstates world has far better average income equality than the real world, and crime has been eliminated or virtually eliminated in a majority of countries in the world.
  • Cute Kitten: The national Compassion stat is determined through "exhaustive World Census tests involving kittens".
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The Averageness of a nation is measured on the Average Standardized Normality scale
  • Dirty Old Man / Sick and Wrong:
    "You know, there's always a compromise," says local pervert Tim Christmas while watching you from a nearby tree. "As I see it, the best way to keep both sides of the argument happy is to remove all restrictions on what adults can view and increase restrictions on minors. But at the same time, lower the age of majority by a lot. What could possibly go wrong?"
  • Double Standard: You can, after enforcing nudity, make it so that only women are forced to be nude. The game gives this decision, should it pass, an appropriate description.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: One of the issues is soldiers complaining about sergeants forcing them to crawl through muddy minefields and climb grease-coated walls. You can side with the grunts or the sergeants, or eliminate training altogether and send out troops who don't know how to shoot, or start raising children from birth to fight.
  • False Dichotomy: The limited options for some issues have been known to frustrate players despite the ever-present third option (simply dismissing the issue).
    • Actually, it's considered part of good issue writing to make sure that every choice feels like a bad choice. The issue writing guide suggests that any decision made should always leave a player wondering if they've made the right choice.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: In an issue regarding the possibility of direct democracy:
    Our citizenry nowadays don't know what's good for them. They're too busy milling around at the mall and buying sneakers WITH LIGHTS IN THEM.
  • Follow the Leader: New nations will sometimes have a striking similarity to movies that have come out recently (and some old nations take from popular culture as well, without much alteration in many cases).
  • Fun with Acronyms: The "Citizens Raging Against the Police" in the "Police too Pushy?" issue.
  • Gambit Pileup: See the NS entry on the TXP page. Roleplays tend to turn into this once they've been alive for long enough. Regional political structures often do it right from the start. There are numerous players trading favors and outmatching each other to get World Assembly resolutions passed or killed. Most regional alliances are set up as growing space for these. The more branches of the Broken Base one is familiar with, the more it appears that the entire game is one big Gambit Pileup that's been building up for eight years.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: More likely than you'd think.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]:
    • You can pick your national animal and currency, which appears in the description like this (and may also appear in some of the daily issues you are given):
      [Nation]'s national animal is the [animal], and its currency is the [currency].
      • For example, every time an issue involves animals they insert the name of the national animal, even if it wouldn't work with the given situation. Indeed the national animal, by default, "frolics freely in the nation's many lush forests." Even if it's a whale.
      • Also, said animal will actually be affected by the nation's environment, even if they are fictional animals, so you can sometimes see dragons and phoenixes "teeter on the brink of extinction due to air pollution".
      • For the currency part, this may result in Weird Currency. For example, some nations use things like Diamond Ingots or Corn Chips as their currency.
    • The nation's capital city, leader, and national religion (if you want them) can be unlocked when your population reaches a high enough level (250 million, 750 million, and 1 billion respectively; it takes about 6 months to get to 1 billion).
    • Also, full nation names follow the format of The [Nation classification (e.g. Federation)] of [Nation], and you can make your own custom classification when you reach 500 million. Some have made weird or amusing names using this, such as The Water Bottles are Full of H2SO4note .
  • I'm a Humanitarian: One of the issues gives you the option to legalize cannibalism in your nation.
  • Hypocritical Humor: A general in the "Budget Time: Accountants Excited" issue supports increased military spending with a warning that "tinpot dictatorships" will invade otherwise, which can come off as a little awkward if you yourself are playing as a dictatorship.
  • Impossibly-Low Neckline: Referenced in the issue "Tiara Sign of Oppression, Declare Feminists"; the second option has a Moral Guardian supporting a nationwide dress code for women, with "necklines that never drop below the base of the neck".
  • It Makes Sense in Context: Probably three-quarters of the forum-related stuff on this page, especially nation-specific examples, fall under this.
  • It's Up to You: Everything of importance that happens in your nation demands a personal response from you, the president/dictator/first citizen/god-emperor/whatever. This is Necessary Weasel, since responding to these things is the entire game, but it can still come off a bit silly, as lampshaded in "A Prosthelytizer To Burn":
    News media is abuzz this week as prominent atheist and anti-religious author Gary Montague has threatened to burn a copy of <state religion>'s most sacred text in order to desecrate it and offend its adherents worldwide. As usual, everyone and their mother are demanding that you do something about this.
  • Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life: In the description particular issue, an ex-convict was denied a job and is facing a lifetime of poverty for jaywalking. You can also choose the option which allows this to happen.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The issue "Dogman Deconstructed"
    “Look, we’re not living in a comic book. This is real life, not a work of fiction,” reminds by-the-book police officer RANDOM NAME, leaning on one of the four walls of your office.
  • Life Imitates Art: In 2003, one of the game's earliest issues has the crazy idea of building a massive concrete wall along the nation's borders: this is meant to be a satire on anti-immigration attitudes taken to an ad absurdiam extreme. In 2016, Donald Trump made a wall along the US-Mexican border one of his campaign promises for the US Presidential Election.
  • Lord British Postulate: It's a nation-building political simulator where players answer issues twice a day and maybe chat on a forum. Players managed to create a combat system anyway.
  • Missing White Woman Syndrome:
    "After the kidnapping, rape, and murder of a young blond girl made national headlines in COUNTRY, the concerned parenting organization Mothers Against Youth Doing Stupid Stuff (MAYDSS) has raised concerns over the use of social networking sites by the nation's teens."
  • Non-Entity General: Originally played straight, now merely optional with the addition of nameable leaders.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • One particular issue is full of this:
      "Following a public safety disaster of unimaginable magnitude - so extreme that members of your government only mention it in hushed voices, and only then in the vaguest of terms - [Nation]'s tourism industry has hit the rocks."
    • The same issue goes on to mention within the options:
  • Non-Player Character: There are several NPC nations in the game who will appear in certain issues.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: A nation is capable of becoming this not just because of its name but also from giving your citizens high political freedoms while keeping personal and economic freedoms low, turning a nation into a literal example of this trope.
  • Privately Owned Society: With the graphs, you can see your nation's economic division between private and public companies, which includes the possibility of this happening.
  • Ret Gone: The highest possible punishment the moderators can dole out is to outright delete the nations of rule violators.
    • On top of that, continuing to violate the rules with replacement nations can lead to a Delete-On-Sight (or DoS) order—an effective permanent ban from the site.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Quite a few of the issues; one referring to a particular Supreme Court case was written in less than a week. A lot of the time, when a real life tragedy occurs a whole bunch of copycat RPs emerge with similar things happening to their nations.
  • Running Gag: Until late 2010, "Repeal "Condemn NAZI EUROPE" " and "Victory for gatesville!" were extremely common, and slightly annoying.
    • One particular Running Gag recurring in issues: Whenever an issue concerning your political or social freedoms springs up, you can be almost certain that one of your closest relatives (brother, cousin, sister-in-law, your aunt's best friend, etc) will come up and kindly suggest that you Take a Third Option and simply set up a totalitarian dictatorship. Whether or not you actually do it is up to you.
  • Shout-Out: There are a lot of these, probably more than there are Issues in the game. Some examples include:
    • The "What's in a Name?" issue directly references The Prisoner, with a suggestion that the nation's children be given numbers instead of names.
    • "A Grave Problem" references Soylent Green, by having an option to put corpses in fast-food burgers.
    • "The Sky Is Falling": "A particularly bad spate of bombings, hijackings and snake attacks aboard airline flights has crippled the air travel industry in (your country name here)."
    • The "Nobody Expects The (your country name here) Inquisition!" issue regarding the possibility of a national religious inquisition.
    • The "Please read: A personal appeal from Nation States founder Max Barry" banner promoting Machine Man is a pretty obvious reference to the "Please read: A personal appeal from Wikipedia founder Jim Wales" banners on The Other Wiki.
    • The unit of measuring how Atheist a nation is is the "Dawkins".
    • "Voter Apathy Rising But No One Cares": People are too apathetic to vote, and one of the options is to energize people by putting "POWERTHIRST (TM) to the national water supply!".
    • When a player creates a new nation, the "default" flag of the nation is the Australian Aborigines' flag.
    • During the Genetic engineering issue, the super soldier project is mentioned as Project X.
    • One of the other issues you can get is called "Eminent Domain: Inherent Right Or Daylight Robbery?" Basically, citizens are complaining about their houses being unwillingly demolished for, among other things, a bypass. Sounds like the start of a certain Sci-Fi series.
    • Harry Partridge even gets one when his character Dr. Bees shows up (with his briefcase full of bees) to give his two cents on the declining bee population of your country.
    • Some of your advisers have the surname Dredd.
    • "The Worst Storm To Hit <Nation> Since...Yesterday?" includes a reference to hail the size of minivans.
    • One of the "wonders" of your nation is mentioned to be the "(nation name) Tire Fire."
  • Silliness Switch: The Liberal and Conservative themes.
  • Skeleton Government: No one wants to make up and explain all government ministries and offices.
  • Strawman Political: The entire game runs on this trope, and unless you dismiss all or most of the issues that come up, your nation will inevitably become this. Even the forum guide to creating new issues states explicitly that all solutions to all issues must be wrong in some way, and the results of your decisions usually sound like they're straight out of a corrupt-a-wish game.
  • Something Completely Different: Most issues are actual political problems but the easter eggs go in strange directions. There's also the issue "Murder, He shouted", which is the end of a murder mystery and where you have to decide who did it (the victim's friend, your secretary, you or the detective) rather than making a policy decision.
  • Super Soldier: Selecting the right answer for a certain issue will result in your soldiers becoming this.
  • Take a Third Option: Even when you feel an issue could only have two logical solutions, there's often another option that may or may not make sense. Example: allow public nudity, ban public nudity, or ENFORCE public nudity. Others are just a nonstandard extreme/ideal that would be really hard to bring about in real life. Not to mention you can just dismiss the issue altogether if it appears to be Failure Is the Only Option.
    • This is lamp shaded by the issue "Hey Kid, Have A Cigar!" with the third option saying...:
      "I have a reasonable third option!" interrupts passing minister (RANDOM NAME), right around the time someone normally interjects with a crazy third option.
  • Take That!: Toxicity is measured in Kardashians.
  • Teens Are Monsters: If your nation is hard enough on youth crime or has big enough problems with it, that gets a special mention.
  • Unobtainium: Issue 435 has miners excavating unobtainium ore, named as is.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: One issue in the nation involves dealing with the aftermath of a terrorist attack. One of the options is to make terrorism a legal form of protest, effectively letting anyone in your nation embrace this trope as they please.
  • Videogame Cruelty and Caring Potential: You can either make your nation the aforementioned Utopia, or a "Psychotic Dictatorship" where you refer to your citizens as "Your Little Playthings" and the phrases "Political Freedoms" and "Civil Rights" do not exist in your vocabulary.
  • Zerg Rush/Voted off the Island: You can't go to war with other regions in the actual simulator. However, you can get a large group of nations on your side to join a region, have them vote your nation the one in charge, then kick out the original members. It's cruel, but not against the rules.
    • Which gives rise to the entire raider (who do this) versus defender (who prevent this by either giving additional support to the original members, or by voting the raiders out before handing the control back to the natives) game.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: 2013 April Fools gag was a giant zombie apocalypse, with nations having to either kill, cure, or export the zombies in their country. This event was repeated for Halloween.
    • It now repeats every Halloween, lasting 36 hours and giving a special issue. Each nation has some of their population turned into zombies and gets three options; set the military on the zombies (converts zombies to dead), research a cure (after a few hours you get cure missiles which allow converting zombies to survivors not only in your nation but in other nations of the same region) or joining the horde (creating more zombies and getting hordes to infect other nations in the region). The options encourage regions to work together as a team and there are several leaderboards to show success with each strategy.

The World Assembly & Security Council (United Nations Simulator, minus the veto) contains examples of:

Some Nation States RPs with their own pages are:


Alternative Title(s): Nation States

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Website/NationStates?from=Main.NationStates