The British Film Institute recently set out its Screen Culture 2033 initiative, included in which is an interesting section that the organisation intends to "advocate for the value of the full breadth of screen culture including video games and interactive work.” The BFI is one of the most prominent film promotion and preservation socities in the world, so their move to advocate for video games is an important one.
Preservation is one of the most important topics in academia around video games and consumer discussions in general. How do we play video games with defunct support? What happens when physical media ceases to function? What happens to games taken off digital storefronts? In the case of those such as the PSP Store simply making purchased games available for the foreseeable future may not be a permanent or feasible solution.
A museum of Video Games
This, naturally will raise questions, especially for mobile game developers whose games can exist in perpetuity. Games such as gacha, that utilise premium currency or other revenue-boosting aspects may not like the idea of a nominally free version of their product being stored in a publicly accessible library. This is often the same concern many developers and publishers are theorised to have for AAA releases.
However from a purely artistic point of view, it’s important to catalogue media that is important to our modern society. Not only that, but there is also potential for a discussion around how and when archived media would be utilised by the public. Many academic libraries only loan to students or under official request. It’s highly likely that any console, computer or mobile game would be licenced for a limited period of time and not to the extent that it would impact any continuing revenue stream.
Not only that, but the BFI’s support for the screen industry may soon translate to grants for interactive media, and if the cost for that is simply to allow your product to be archived in a secure collection then it may prove more than appealing to developers and publishers. At the moment, although the BFI has earmarked £54m for the screen industry there have been no announcements for direct grants to the games industry. However, contributions to the ‘We Are UK Film’ initiative for international promotion do form part of a £3.2m grant, an organisation which helps promote video games as well as film.