- This article, released under the GFDL, has been taken in large part from the Wikipedia page on this subject.
In the game, a player is in charge of a nation, deciding government policies on automatically presented issues from a list of options. These decisions affect the character of the nation, especially its general status in the areas of Civil Rights, Economy, and Political Freedoms. Based on these criteria, nations are placed in categories ranging from Scandinavian Liberal Paradise and New York Times Democracy to Compulsory Consumerist State and Psychotic Dictatorship. Issues can also be dismissed, which causes them to have no effect.
The United Nations
A player may also join the so-called United Nations, binding his or her nation to abide by the decisions of the body. Unlike the RL United Nations, resolutions passed in this body can and usually do determine the domestic policies of member nations. Discussions on proposed resolutions take place on the forums, often home to all manner of political debate. The forum is moderated by a dedicated team of volunteers, most of whom also moderate the game to keep it free from vandalism.
Nations are grouped into regions . Each player begins in one of five Pacific regions and is free to move his nation into any other region at any time. Most regions have an elected leader and some are organized into complex regional governments. It is common for players to attempt to collectively invade another region, by entering it and seizing control. There are certain rules that must be followed for invasions. Nations that don't follow these rules are often deleted.
Also, a recent feature was added, which selected a random player-created region as the Featured Region
There are many multi-regional organisations set up to either organise invasions (known as raider-play by its adherents) or to organise those who defend against raider play (which is generally referred to by defenders, as well as Max Barry, as 'region crashing').
Because the current simulation is relatively simple, it has given rise to more in-depth and freeform role-playing, with players using their nations' statistics to play how their nations would fare in international trade, diplomacy, and war. Part of the appeal of NationStates is the ability to create an unrealistic utopia (or dystopia) that can be the subject of conversation and political philosophy, without needing to worry about practical matters, like national defense, that might be factors in a more comprehensive simulation.
A second version of the game, currently in development and called NationStates 2, may include complex functions for war, trade, diplomacy, and customization.
Due to the increased slowness of the original NationStates server, which caused the forums to be inaccessible for large portions of the day, it was announced in January 2004 that the British gaming company Jolt would take over hosting of the site as well as development of NationStates 2. On June 28, 2004, after several delays, the game was transfered to the new servers; however, continued programming issues compounded by the death of Max Barry's father caused the forums to remain down until July 13. The maximum flag size was increased to 10k from 6k approximately around August 15th.