Presentation LMU Munich



Living in Novaland: can we Simulate the Experience of States and Public

Policies in an Artificial Online State?


Achim Goerres, University of Duisburg-Essen


What if we could experimentally manipulate all characteristics of states and

public policies and estimate their effects on citizens? This presentation

puts forward the first evidence from a pilot of Novaland. Novaland is an

artificial liberal democracy that only exists online and that has

characteristics realistically drawn from German, Romanian and US contexts.

The pilot consists of an experimental online platform based on text, images

and audio in which volunteers (a) are surveyed before they go into the

experience, (b) are randomly assigned to different experiences, such as

defined by income, quality of government or state corruption, (c) interact

with each other simultaneously and (d) thereby co-create collective

decisions, such as elections or donation pools, that then determine the

course of Novaland and thereby the subsequent experiences of the


The pilot gives us many insights into the usefulness of such full

experiential simulations in the social sciences. Can this technically and

organizationally be done? Do participants behave in an externally valid

manner? Do they behave sincerely? What is the potential of such an approach

for finding causal effects?

The project is financed by a Consolidator Grant of the European Research

Council. More details about the project at and

about the presenter at