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Build a nation through Internet

How to run a country according to your own warped political ideals, Lamat Rezaul Hasan finds out.

india Updated: Feb 22, 2006 20:02 IST

Ever dreamt of creating a nation? A nation where the left/right scales doesn't exist? A nation where a zillion people subscribe to your zany ideology - a Utopian paradise, a totalitarian state, a mix of the two or whatever combination you can think up; a nation where you can play a caring prime minister or an oppressive dictator; be 'good' and join the United Nations or remain a rogue state; a nation which can be password-protected and where you can eject troublemakers!

NationStates.net - an online simulation game - was created by Max Barry to promote his novel Jennifer Government about two years ago.

Today, there are over 1,11,255 nations co-existing peacefully in cyberspace, each with their unique flags, emblems and mottos. Over a 1,000 nations are online at any given time.

It's easy to build a nation - choose a name, a motto, a national animal, and a currency. Then talk about your politics - authoritarian or permissive, left wing or right wing, compassionate or psychotic. Once a day, you will be faced with an issue to determine how your nation evolves.

There are no winners or losers here. And, you don't have to worry about national defence budgets either - for you can't go to war here. You can call your nation whatever you like - the Hateful Hating Hated Haters of Hatred or be right-wing Utopia with Corporate Autocracy of Torontonias - names carry only cosmetic value.

"You can be a left-wing civil rights paradise with no money, or a right-wing economic powerhouse where the poor are left to fend for themselves?" declares Max Barry, the creator on his website.

"But one way to excel is to make it to the top rungs of a United Nations report. These are compiled once per day, and nations are ranked on anything from economic strength to the most liberal laws," he adds.

The popularity of the site has not left students untouched. The game is being used to explore issues such as politicking, resolving ethical dilemmas in the absence of objectively 'right' and 'wrong' answers to moral issues and moving beyond simplistic labels such as 'conservative' and 'liberal' and allowing children to appreciate the wide variety of possible points of view.

Quite a few Indians have already floated their nations. There's the Holy Empire of Ancient India, categorised by the UN as Inoffensive Centrist Democracy; United States of Calcutta India, declared a Compulsory Consumerist State by the UN; the Empire of East India, the Free Land of Gaelindia, declared anarchist by UN and with a motto - No man is above the law and no man below it.

By the way, when you are bored of playing president, prime minister, or dictator in your region - you can explore greener pastures. But if there's no sign of you for over a month at NationStates - Max Barry will delete your nation from his virtual globe.