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BFI loops video games into funding, strategy plans for long-term preservation

The British Film Institute's new 10-year plan is about helping audiences recognized the value of screen-based art forms, including video games and extended reality.

The British Film Institute (BFI) is including video games and virtual reality in its newly announced Screen Culture 2033 initiative, which aims to "advocate for the value of the full breadth of screen culture." 

Established in 1933, the BFI is a charity organization that preserves UK film and television. Over the next 10 years, Screen Culture 2033 will broaden the charity's reach to include more recent forms and method of media, so as to provide a wider range of historical preservation and education. 

"Today, screen culture encompasses film, TV, digital media and video sharing, extended reality (XR) and video games. It has become the dominant means of communication and information for Gen Z and beyond, and a powerful means of expression, knowledge sharing and international soft power," wrote the BFI. 

Supported with a £136 million ($154.2 million) fund for the next three years, the BFI's plan will involve cultural and education programs, including school programs meant to champion screen culture. CEO Ben Roberts emphasized that as the organization grows income, that money will go towards providing support to other screen-based mediums. 

"Alongside our work in government, this long-term plan will help ensure the UK is a great place to make film, television and video games in the future," added culture secretary Michelle Donelan.

Earlier this year, the BFI established a fund to support narrative game developers in the UK.

Video games are worth preserving, says the BFI

With Screen Culture 2033, the BFI's goal is twofold. In addition to providing education and resources for screen culture to the UK, it also wants the region to be an enticing destination for those working in the entertainment industry. 

"Most of us experience or contribute to screen culture – through film, TV, online video, extended reality and video games – in our daily lives," said Roberts. "With Screen Culture 2033, we want to transform the way in which people can access our programs, appreciate screen culture and gain skills and jobs across the UK."

Included in the BFI's three-year plan is creating "necessary partnerships and infrastructure to care for and preserve videogames and new forms for future generations." 

Companies such as Sony have formed teams to preserve their specific franchises, but overall preservation is an avenue in which the game industry lacks. With luck, the BFI will have a better go at it. 

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