Run a Nation in Your Spare Time

Most people who surf the Web have probably come across Google Earth by now.

If you haven’t, you’re missing something.  I looked at it first quite a few months ago.  It was a very handy mapping, geographical awareness kind of free web-based program.  But now… it is an amazing piece of work, if you have broadband and a sufficiently recent computer.  And it remains free, in its simplest, but still powerful, version.

Find your house, your brother’s, where you work, the hotel where you are going to vacation next month, places where you would like to travel before you die, but might not make it…  go down to a location, tilt the map sideways, travel through the 3D hills and valleys like you’re flying.  The resolution of the photo mapping can vary a lot, but even if it’s not so good, there’s a lot to see.

And wouldn’t you know, somebody has constructed a free game on top of Google Earth: Cyber Nations, described as a nation simulator.  Set up and run (I almost said ‘ruin’) your own nation in your spare time.

Create your nation anywhere in the world, decree the type of government, establish the religion and ethnicity of your people; impose taxes, promulgate laws and perform all the other fun stuff rulers get to do to their citizens.  You can even go to war, although not right away.  Form alliances, trade with other nations.

Fortunately, I’m able to avoid this time sink at home since I don’t have broadband access.  Otherwise, the Principality of Quirk would be up and running…

If you’re interested in getting the taste of the ebb and flow of nation building, here’s a thread at the gaming site, Octopus Overlords.

Rule well!


Explore posts in the same categories: Games, Internet

15 Comments on “Run a Nation in Your Spare Time”

  1. […] Quirk » Blog Archive » Run a Nation in Your Spare Time […]

  2. Ed Says:

    Goggle Earth is evolving in very interesting ways. Have you seen the GE version of Battleships? ( )

  3. fencer Says:

    Thanks, Ed, for the link. That’s an amusing idea for a game: send someone out into the real world with a GPS unit and locate a possible ‘hit’ on a battleship superimposed on Google Earth.

    Lots of interesting items at http://

    I was struck by that one that follows on your link about finding on Google Earth a very large scale model somewhere in China that apparently is a military mock-up of a disputed border area with India.

    I like your own blog’s idea for involvement with Google Earth ( trying to find different mysterious locations.


  4. qazse Says:

    In the book Eiger Dreams, Jon Krakauer includes a chapter on canyoneering. He relates his trip to an obscure and “undiscovered” set of canyons not far from Phoenix. His guide takes great pains to keep it protected. It will soon be identified by the Eye In The Sky. That is one price we pay for a bird’s eye view of everywhere.

    I know the above sounds crotchety but I do grieve the lessening reliance upon word and map to describe this earth.

  5. fencer Says:

    Hi qazse,

    I think I know what you mean. Is there no place unsullied by the works of man…

    But I think the undiscovered canyons you mention will still be so from the ground, and will be unrecognized from the air and Google Earth’s photo mapping (unless there’s some large identifiably unusual ground feature).

    What’s on Google Earth is just one snapshot in recent time. To bring it up to date again, all the world’s surface must be photographed and ortho rectified once more, and to get the detail, in quite a slow manner. But it is a concern, especially satellite surveillance. But not as much as police installing video cameras in all public places, say…

  6. qazse Says:

    I agree, they are both concerns for a free society struggling to be so.

  7. qazse Says:

    forgot to say nice job on the post, was too busy descending from the soap box

    best regards

  8. fencer Says:

    Hi qazse,

    A most graceful descent…


  9. sputnki Says:

    Ack! I have broadband, but I don’t need another excuse to escape from the real world! Bad bad Fencer! I already have two games on the go and a third waiting in the wings…

    Yes, Google Earth is quite something. If you get the next version up (~$20/yr subscription) you can overlay data from your GPS. It was quite educational revisiting the spots we saw in Florida through the ‘eye-in-the-sky’.

    I’m sure in the next 20 years we’ll have a version of Google Earth where the feed is live (or delayed 15 minutes for the free version!). Won’t that take stalking to the next level!


    “What are you doing at your old girlfriends house? I can see your car parked outside!”

    Maybe wide-brimmed hats will come back into style. And instead of bumper stickers we’ll put up ‘roof-stickers’ visible from google earth… or ads… “click here to buy this car”.

    Good thing I’m not paranoid.


  10. fencer Says:

    Hi Doug,

    What are the other games you’re playing (I’m a bit of a games nut)?

    Wide-brimmed hats and, for those clandestine meetings, umbrellas.


  11. sputnki Says:

    Knights of the Old Republic II at the mo. And I had been working my way through the Neverwinter Nights trilogy (on the last one). Then of course there is Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow waiting patiently in the wings, and Lara Croft Legend (forgot about that one…).

    I don’t have a problem, I can stop anytime I want, I just don’t want to!!!


  12. fencer Says:

    Hi Doug,

    I have the first Knights but I haven’t played it, and the Neverwinter Nights trilogy, also unplayed… I have played Oblivion at least.

    I like the idea of RPGs, but I seem to end up playing more strategy or war games…

    Too many games, not enough time!


  13. sputnki Says:

    I hear you Mike. I used to play more strategy games, especially the sim types like the Rise Of _blank_ , or Alpha Centauri (still a fave). The problem I always had with them was that my favourite part was the beginning, when you were exploring, finding resources and discovering all the mysteries. Battling the opponents for world domination always felt like the price I had to pay to see the world!

    I quite enjoyed the first KOTOR. The whole premise of haaving choices throughout that lead you down a ‘light’ or ‘dark’ path was quite interesting. The designers must have realised this because it becomes even more apparent in the second installment. In fact I think I feel a blog entry coming on about the whole subject!


  14. fencer Says:

    I like that too, the exploration part… that’s a big part of the sheer addictiveness of games like the Civilization series.

    Blog entry! Go for it…


  15. […] Lastly, let me mention, if you are as far behind the Internet curve as I am, of one trend in cool Internet stuff, the mashup, which has connections to this whole subject of conceptual and software art.  This is where one commonly available Web utility or program is piggybacked with another by some able programmer which is then made available more widely.  For instance Schmoogle above is a kind of mashup, as is Cyber Nations, a game which is mounted on Google Earth, a mapping program. […]

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