A politic simulation game. And a source of 11000 ridiculously funny nation names.
There is no way to win as such. Which is better, a left-wing civil rights paradise with no money, or a right-wing economic powerhouse where the poor are left to fend for themselves?
Nations are ranked on anything from economic strength to the most liberal public nudity laws (the UN has a lot of time to fill in). There's a certain glory in making it onto one of those.
Jennifer Government is a novel by Max Barry, on which NationStates is based. The book is set in an ultra-privatized world, of the sort you can create in NationStates, if you're mean enough. For more information check out www.maxbarry.com.