Nationstates is a free-to-play mobile game created in 2002 by famous author Max Barry, originally intended as a marketing stunt for his novel 'Jennifer Government' and only expecting at most a few hundred or so people to play it at all, it quickly ballooned in size to twenty thousand players in the span of a few weeks. The overwhelmed writer soon found himself the developer of a successful mobile game.
In Nationstates you play as the ruler of a newly created nation of initially five million people. You start forming your nation by picking what kind of nation you want politically (Anarchy, Liberal, Centrist, Conservative, Tyrannical, etc.), answering a series of 8 questions, and choosing from 9 different "histories". It then has you choose Your starting nation's pretitle, the nation's name, national motto. National animal, and currency. From there, a series of 84 interconnected stats (determined by how you answered the questions when creating your account) is used describe your nation through your 'nation page'/home screen.
Next, is the meat of the game: Issues. This is what a great majority of people will play it for. A series of up to 5 issues will be found at one time, and each issue present you, the nation's leader, with a dilemma and a few intentionally flawed by design choices. You answer one and the game rewards your choice with a national headlines going something like "following new legislation in (your nation here), [insert event here]. Some newspaper headlines and stat changes accompany it. Some choices presented can be quite humorous, like all cars or the internet being banned, and nudity being compulsory. A subset of the nation page will show you "policies" enacted by your nation, like maintaining the right to use weapons of mass destruction, which can be changed by the issues.
Besides this there is some fun side stuff like trading cards, which are snapshots of a player's country at a single point in time and the World Assembly, the equivalent to the real life United Nations whom hilariously almost sued max barry for using it's images and name at one point, before he had to change the image and name to the present world assembly.
You'll find your nation in a 'region' a group of nations. A lot of these group have 'regional governments' and each region can have it's one unique culture and activities that can draw you into the game more. Each region has a world assembly delegate, who if you endorse can vote along with you on proposals which are possible resolutions which can FURTHER change your stats, making your vote count for two instead of just one.
Besides that stuff, there's badges you can earn for being in the top 10%, 5% & 1% of the game for any stat as well as the occasional fun event in-game like simulating a global nuclear war or a zombie apocalypse. The site has gotten a few occasional updates to it's graphics to keep up with the times.
That's most of the good stuff though. If you try to get into the game more than that, you're going to get a few unpleasant surprises.
Early in the game's history, internet trolls came along and began griefing the playerbase. They would "invade" regions, spamming message boards with vulgar, rascist slurs and other $#*!, hijacking the world assembly delegate so you can't use it, spamming telegrams or your private messages, and otherwise just being pains in the ass.
The Admin initially tried to ban and put anti-cheat measures in place to combat the griefing. At one point though, somewhere out of the blue, Max decided this girefing was cool and kept it on as a part of the game, even building up features around it and making it a feature of the game!.
It's evolved now into a broken meta called 'r/d' which makes it nearly impossible to play how you want beyond answering issues. Want to propose an issue to the world assembly? TOO BAD! The game mechanic makes new players land in eight regions called 'feeders' and 'sinkers', and most of those re controlled by girefers that require total obedience and you kissing their ass before they'd even CONSIDER supporting you (EVEN THEN THEY WILL LIKELY LAUGH AT YOU AND MOCK YOU BEFORE KICKING YO OUT).
"Oh well, I'll go join another region then and get their help!" OH REALLY, FOOL? Then maybe YOU can tell ME how you plan on outvoting the 50% of the game that sucks up to the place that kicked you out, with their 10000 votes to the measly 25 people in the region you joined? OR maybe you somehow figured out how to persuade enough people to support your resolution, so surely your proposal will pass without their support? NOPE! Thanks to the BROKEN meta in this game, they can just stroll right on into any $#*!ing group they want and CANCEL a region's vote in the world assembly. Yep, that's right, CANCEL IT. You're $#*!ED being answering issues, because griefers have set themselves up as Lords over $#*!ing EVERYTHING, and the admins let them stroll around because they think it's funny, but it's not! It's just $#*!ING STUPID!
They even managed to monopolize cards somehow! They have huge farms set up so all their people that kiss their ass can have better stats than you ever could hope to match. The toxicity goes further, so much $#*!ing further. You get spammed by innumerable group that want to poach you and your friends into their bull$#*!, tryhard groups where they pretend to be diehard communists and nazis, or THEY'RE ACTUAL $#*!ING COMMUNISTS AND NAZIS IN A GAME PLAYED BY CHILDREN!
This is a simple game that had the potential to be a 4/5, with fun features that aren't bared behind paywalls and micro-transactions like other games. Unfortunately, the developer has let griefers come in and take over, and what we're left with is a average game with features broken by it's toxic community, that the developer refuses to fix. Maybe in the future Max will pull his head out of his ASS, and take the time from writing to slap the mother$#*!ers ruining his product and make them stop. Until then, if you play this game, stay wary of the other players.