Love it or loathe it, Grand Theft Auto is a bona fide sales juggernaut in the video game industry, standing as one of the best-selling franchise of all time. Its meteoric rise to prominence has not been without controversy, though, and that’s an area BBC Two is aiming to explore with its upcoming docu-drama, The Gamechangers.
Putting the overly bland title to one side for the time being, Daniel Radcliffe toplines the cast as one of the creative team that brought GTA into existence: Sam Houser. As this brief, 30-second clip reveals, The Gamechangers will place a laser focus on a court battle between Houser and anti-video game lawyer, Jack Thompson (Bill Paxton).
Genius or sadist? Thompson believes Sam Houser belongs to the latter camp, and takes the video game developer to court where he holds Grand Theft Auto at least partially responsible for Devin Moore’s actions in 2004, who shot and killed three police officers in Alabama. Moore is currently on death row for his crimes.
BBC Two have billed The Gamechangers as a factual drama, and it’ll be interesting to see how Daniel Radcliffe embodies the role of the infamous developer. Owen Harris of Kill Your Friends and Black Mirror fame is behind the lens for this one, with James Wood providing the script.
The Gamechangers is expected to premiere on BBC Two on September 15 in the United Kingdom. At the time of writing, there is no plans yet to broadcast the docu-drama elsewhere, but we’ll keep you updated as we learn more. For now, here’s the official synopsis.
Conceived for an adult audience, this special 90-minute drama tells the story of the controversy surrounding the computer game Grand Theft Auto – arguably the greatest British coding success story since Bletchley Park. Its triumph was down to a bunch of British gaming geniuses who had known each other since their school days, and at the heart of it all was GTA’s creative mastermind, Sam Houser. In autumn 2013 its latest iteration – GTA:V – earned $1bn in its first three days, becoming the fastest selling entertainment product in history.
But the violent gameplay coupled with its outstanding commercial success leads to fierce opposition: from parents worried about children immersing themselves in such a violent world; from politicians, alarmed at the values they say it encourages; and above all from moral campaigners, who fight passionately to ban it. At the vanguard of this crusade is the formidable campaigning lawyer Jack Thompson, a man determined to do whatever he can to stop the relentless rise of Grand Theft Auto.