by Max Barry

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by The French Delight of Pauline Bonaparte. . 518 reads.

On Wastelands

On Wastelands

Community's Prime Secretary Marim Grunzy has asked me to put my thoughts into words regarding the political question of the wastelands. "Wastelands", of course, is the word that my friend in Community coined for these frontière inculte - these uncultivated frontiers. What is to be done with these regions? In "On True Frontiers", Grunzy outlined how a frontier should behave. Indeed, my Government and His Imperial Majesty's Grand Army have rushed to the defense of frontiers such as Greater Sahara and Magna Aurea when they were each targeted by foreign powers - or, in the former's case, when the world believed they were targeted by foreign powers. I hope that this second lecture will elucidate the responsibility of frontiers to prune the weakest branches from the tree.

The vitality, energy, and spark that frontiers bring to NationStates is already obvious, mere months since our birth as a regional class. Our delegates' power increases, and the words of our regions in the halls of the General Assembly and the Security Council grow in importance and volume. Even those who continue to doubt the nascent strength of the frontier must admit this. However, for every frontier that works diligently to promote the maturation, liberty, and political strength of its children, there are a dozen that provide no benefit to those nations whose seeds fall in their furrows. These regions - wastelands - serve merely to host a million abortive "hellos" on their message boards from new nations looking for a community to call their own.

In "On True Frontiers", Grunzy calls the wasteland the "antithesis" of a frontier. I recognize this dialectic approach - and in fact I am known for engaging in dialectics with my manservants quite often. If a wasteland is the antithesis of a frontier, it must embody the opposite traits of its more successful cousin.

Where a frontier provides instruction and education to its newborn nations, a wasteland provides only a blank page, or a few banal trivialities on their message boards. Where a frontier provides a government for new players to become involved in, a wasteland provides only a collective, unguided mass. Where a frontier provides culture, a wasteland provides only spam. Consider a nation born in a region with no government, or a government with weak institutions, or one with repeatedly deferred elections. Would this provide a new player experience in regional governance, as one could argue is a main goal of NationStates? Or would it simply encourage a new player to answer issues until they tire of the game and leave completely?

Put oneself in the position of a new player with interest in the General Assembly or Security Council. Born in a wasteland, this player has no WA ministry capable of guiding them in drafting resolutions. Only by stumbling on the WA forum by chance and engaging with strangers would such a player be able to even begin learning about the World Assembly. The wasteland's inability to secure itself does its own disservice to new players. The delegacy, concentrated in a one-endorsement nation or traded among a handful of WA nations randomly, is incapable of serving as a reliable leader. The wasteland's residents may find themselves traded between various raider organizations with no interest in their well-being. Like a fawn, new players could be thrust into a world pursued by hawks or wolves, unable to learn anything beyond what taunts are posted in their local message board.

On the one hand you have the frontiers, noble in spirit and purpose. On the other, wastelands devoid of both. What, then, is the synthesis of these two antipodes? Through the natural conflict of these opposites arises the synthesis: frontier regions made whole through the sublimation of these wastelands, and the appropriation of their spawns into a greater whole.

There are those who insist beyond reason that wastelands, even those with no community or purpose to speak of, must be allowed to lurch along like some beast animated only by its basest urges of self-preservation. To those I will say this: we cannot worry about oppressing the leech as we remove it from our body. A wasteland, left unabated, is only good for diverting energy from the greater political project.

Nor should those who reside outside of a frontier consider themselves above this tussle. It is plain to everyone that the World Assembly will soon no longer be dominated by the great, hulking Pacifics as it once was. Would the residents of these regions prefer new member-states join frontiers that can be dealt with, reasoned with, negotiated with? Or would they rather their power be drained by a thousand wastelands, draining their energy like a swarm of mosquitoes?

His Imperial Majesty, when leading our Grand Army, and my own Foreign Ministry have always maintained our independence from either of the two sides of the gameplay debate. This is not just because we engage in both raids and defenses. It is because the cause of frontier solidarity can and must bridge this gap. Regardless of a player's political leaning, they must agree that the health of this game is paramount. As long as wastelands continue to exist, they siphon resources and players away from the game and towards islands of solitude.

A doctor must occasionally wound in order to heal, just as a gardener must prune their plant in order to promote its growth. The frontierist mind must be set on the future, not the past. Long live the Glorious and Frontierist Revolutions!

Pauline Bonaparte
Minister-President of the Crowned Republic of Carcassonne