A geo-political web-based simulator (aka a nation-simulation or planet-simulation game or a nationsim or planetsim) is a sim in which players take on the roles of leaders of nations or organizations. Most geopolitical simulators are forum-based, although some are conducted as play-by-e-mail games.
A geopolitical simulator differs from a government simulator in that it simulates a group of nations or the entire world, whereas a government simulator simulates a single nation or part of a single nation.
How a geo-political simulator is playedEdit
Each player takes the role of the leader of a nation, or in some cases the leader of an organization or faction. Some games have more than one player taking a role in a single nation. For example, one may play the head of state while another plays the head of government, or one may play the leader of the nation while another plays an opposition candidate or a rebel.
Players submit actions to one or more referees or game leaders, who are usually called avatars. Such an action is generally a detailed plan for something the player wants to happen. Actions can be anything a player can imagine (such as an order to start a war or raise the income tax). In forum-based games, actions are sent to the avatars through the "private message" or "in-game message" system that is a feature of most Internet forums. In play-by-email games, actions are sent by e-mail.
Players also need to prepare budgets (usually once each ingame year) in which they decide how they will spend their nations' revenue. Budgets differ greatly in complexity from game to game. Some nationsims allow the players to set different tax rates for different types of goods, while others simply use an infrastructure rate that allows the player to choose how much money is to be spent on the nation's infrastructure and other domestic costs.
Geo-Political web-based simulators often have many players. As a result, they usually have several avatars. There may be one avatar for each continent or one for each general type of action (such as one for domestic actions and one for military actions).
The avatars determine the results of actions based entirely on their own experience and knowledge; players usually have no say in the avatars' decisions. This can lead to problems, since a good avatar must be experienced, completely unbiased, and have a great deal of knowledge about international and domestic politics.
The avatars create news bulletins announcing the results of actions. As news is released, the players react by making statements or sending additional actions. Roleplaying is important, as players must act as if they were actually the leader of the nation they play.
In a forum-based geopolitical simulator, players have access to common boards and usually to a few private boards for organizations (such as OPEC or NATO). The common boards usually include a forum in which players discuss world events, an out of character forum, and a news forum in which the avatars post the news. There is usually a common United Nations forum as well.
Most sites have introductions and FAQs for new players that explain how that sim is played.
The history of nationsims is mostly guesswork, as some early games were played in tightly-knit internet communities and rarely made themselves publicly visible. However, likely precursors include a number of play-by-mail games. The board game, Diplomacy, has been played through the mail since the 1960s. Global Supremacy, originally run by the play-by-mail game company Schubel and Son, was a full economic and diplomatic simulation offered in 1979. Global Supremacy, and other play-by-mail games, incorporated some computer moderation in the 1980s and by 1989 some were played by email. Generally, the original simulations tended to spawn off-shoots as players created games set in different time periods or dealing with alternate history.