The Canadian government has apparently used taxpayer money to pay for an anarchist Fallout mod. And not just once or twice, but four times. I have so many questions, mainly: “What does it take to get rejected from a Canadian arts grant?”
Nous Aurons is an overhaul mod that turns Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel into a post-apocalyptic world of anarchist communes. In most Fallout campaigns, you’re just trying not to get shanked while collecting some bottle caps. This mod tries to turn all of that on its head. Nous Aurons portrays a “utopia” where people organize themselves along the “shared values” of “anti-domination, direct democracy, freedom, and autonomy.”
Honestly, it sounds kind of nice. One of the most exhausting aspects of the last Fallout game I played (New Vegas) was how I couldn’t trust anyone, because they were either traumatized out of their wits or secretly a cultist. I assume that my odds of being ritually murdered are much lower in this campaign.
But it still feels incredibly odd that the Canadian government would be funding a project that is explicitly in favor of a world where liberal democracy doesn’t exist (and is in fact undesirable). How did the mod’s creators manage to secure “support” not only from the Quebec Council of Arts and Letters and Canada Council for the Arts? Kotaku reached out to the creators to ask if the funding assessors knew about the anarchy component, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.
According to the lead developer Hugo Nadeau, he was able to obtain government funding multiple times by submitting an English and a French version of the game to each organization.
“They gave me money, so all the rest was up to me to organize.” Nadeau wrote in the official Discord server. “So I did a bunch of exhibitions [...], live performances […] and finally online game sessions.” He added that these exhibitions were a requirement for receiving funding.
Bethesda had also given the project its blessing, provided that it was not for commercial purposes. The studio has always been explicitly supportive of fan mod projects, having gone as far as hiring the developers who made Fallout London.
It might be tempting to say that funding Fallout mods is a waste of taxpayer money. But frankly, giving money to artists is one of the least harmful things that the Canadian government could be spending money on. Besides, public funding might be one of the only ways that unprofitable ideas can be brought into reality under our current capitalist hellscape. So more of this, please.
Update 1/5/2023 at 5:45 P.M. E.T.: Nadeau explained the funding process to Kotaku over email.“The councils knew about the anarchist dimension of the project. The way it works is that no government representative get to choose or prioritize any of the projects at all,” he wrote. “They simply follow an administrative procedure where a group of other artists are summoned and [the artists] are expected to select the projects. In this spirit, I was writing my applications with other artists readers in mind.”
He also explained that it was actually very difficult to get government money for a video game, even one made in the name of art. “It is not rare for many of us to wait 5-6 years, even more to receive [funding for a project].”