by Max Barry

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NationStates for Educators

This page describes how NationStates can be used in an educational setting. The site is free to use, and ad-free for schools.

Using NationStates to support the curriculum

Some teachers have found to be a useful educational tool, and have integrated it into their class or course. The game can be used to explore issues such as:

  • Politicking: how group leaders are elected, the dynamics of diplomacy, an introduction to negotiation.
  • Balancing competing points of view, with particular regard to issues that affect society as a whole: understanding that most decisions involve trading off one benefit against another (e.g. low taxes versus comprehensive public services, or individualism versus collectivism), or one group of people's interests against another group's.
  • Resolving ethical dilemmas: students must develop personal responses in the absence of objectively "right" and "wrong" answers to moral issues.
  • Understanding politics: moving beyond simplistic labels (such as "conservative" and "liberal") to appreciate the wide variety of possible points of view.
  • The nature of freedom: how supporting freedom often means tolerating behavior we may not approve of; how many different types of freedom exist (within the three broad categories of personal, economic and political), and why most people believe in some types of freedom but not others.
  • Exploring the complexity of society: how simple solutions rarely solve complex problems; how decisions have unforeseen consequences and flow-on effects; how most government decisions involve trade-offs.
  • The nature of patriotism: what it is and why it has power to engender strong feelings.

Students generally find the idea of playing an online game as part of a class to be quite exciting, so can be highly engaged in the lesson.

Different classes use NationStates in different ways. Some have designed their own "game within the game" systems, awarding points for students that achieve particular outcomes, such as being elected WA Delegate. Others use NationStates as a jumping-off point for discussion.

Special Features for Teachers

To facilitate its use in classes, NationStates allows educators to establish a special class region, within which students' nations reside. This region is isolated from the rest of the game world, so students cannot communicate with or be approached by other players.

Nations in a class region:

  • Are automatically added to the World Assembly, without needing to supply an email address. (Normally, each nation that wishes to enter the WA must supply a unique e-mail address. Additionally, checks are performed to prevent players from operating more than one WA member nation. These do not apply to class members.)
  • Will not receive daily issues that could be considered adult in nature.
  • Cannot receive telegrams from or send telegrams to nations outside the region.
  • Cannot leave the region.
  • Do not see ads (except for references to my novels)

How to Establish a Class Region

  1. Create a nation for yourself. When doing so, be sure to supply your e-mail address at your school/college/university. This is the main way we verify that you are an educator.

  2. Apply to join the World Assembly, by visiting the WA page and clicking the button labeled "Apply to Join".

  3. You will receive an e-mail from the game inviting your nation into the WA within 24 hours. Click the link it contains, or copy and paste it into your web browser. This will complete your nation's entry into the WA.

  4. Check that you are logged in as your nation, and create a new region by visiting:

    Uncheck the box beside "WA Delegate can access Regional Control."

    Check the box beside "Other nations require a password to enter this region" and select a password. (To prevent non-students from breaking into your region, your password must not be guessable!)

    These two steps are important! They ensure you have administrative control over your class region.

  5. Visit:

    Under "Request for Moderator Intervention", type in a request for your region to be designated as part of a school class. Please include the name of your school and subject/course, and ensure that you spell your region's name correctly!

When the moderators have processed your request, your region will display a line of text beneath its name stating it is a registered school class. This means it's ready for your students to create nations within it.

Visit Regional Control by logging in your nation, visiting your region, and following the "Administration..." link near the top of the page. This will take you to a page that (among other things) provides a link to a special page for Class Nation Creation. It will look similar to this:

Give this web address to your students so they can create nations. (You may wish to do this all together in a computer lab, or simply pass out the URL and instruct them to visit it.) Students then simply follow the prompts:

  1. They are asked to enter the password for your region.
  2. They are taken to the Nation Creation screen. A message at the top of the page will confirm (in blue) that this nation will be registered as part of the school class, or (in red) tell them if they entered the password incorrectly. If all is well, they now choose a name, national motto, etc, for their nation and click "Continue". They do not need to supply an e-mail address.
  3. They answer a brief political quiz, which determines what sort of nation they begin the game with.
  4. Their nation is created! It is automatically added to the World Assembly and moved into the class region.

Please note that there is nothing stopping students from creating more than one nation each. If you want to prevent this, you must enforce the policy yourself.

You can eject nations from your region via Regional Control.

When your class has created all its nations, you should change the regional password (via Regional Control). This prevents students from creating more nations in the region.

Issues for Educators

Please be aware that your students will still be able to browse the entire site (even if they're not logged in as a nation), and read posts in the NationStates forum. The game has more than a dozen Moderators who act swiftly to remove inappropriate material, but I can't completely guarantee that you (or your students) will never encounter it before they do. In addition, the site is relatively tolerant of political free speech, allowing discussion of issues that may be offensive to some people. In some sections of the forum, arguments about racism and religion are quite common, and occasionally contributed to by people with extreme views. For this reason, you may want to instruct your students not to participate in the forum.

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