First look at BBC's Grand Theft Auto "docudrama"

In case you missed it, the BBC has released the first-look at Gamechangers. The drama tells the story of how Rockstar Games created the original Grand Theft Auto, and comes despite Rockstar‘s parent company, Take-Two Interactive threatening to prevent its release.

The Gamechangers goes back to 2002, telling the story of a three-year period of “intense controversy” in the Grand Theft Auto history. Daniel Radcliffe stars as Rockstar co-founder Sam Houser, while Bill Paxton plays Jack Thompson, described as a “formidable Christian lawyer”, determined to do all he can to stop the influence he perceives the GTA series will have on children.

From the official BBC synopsis:

The fastest-selling entertainment product in history comes not from Silicon Valley, but is driven by a bunch of British game designers. Friends since their school days, they are led by the game’s mastermind-designer, Sam Houser. By 2002, Sam and his creative team have constructed for their fans a vast virtual world, teeming with a high-octane mix of criminal characters, lethal weapons and outrageous storylines. Here you can even shape and sculpt your avatar, crafting their character and appearance to your personal preference.

Within this fantasy landscape, some players choose to take part in a series of dangerous missions, while others become immersed in a sprawling criminal underworld, killing cops, hijacking cars and running over pedestrians. And it’s this that increasingly drives opposition to GTA. Because the game’s violent gameplay leads to fierce opposition: from parents worried about its impact on children; from politicians, fearful of its influence; and, above all, from campaigners fighting to prevent the game being played by minors.

The Gamechangers follows the stories of both Rockstar, changing the games industry as we knew it, and Thompson, whose life was quickly overwhelmed by the battle against the game.

Remember, this is based on an unauthorised tell-all book, Jacked, and neither Rockstar Games nor Take-Two were involved in creating the film. The publisher has some concerns over the potential misuse of its trademarks in the BBC production, but at this stage – less than a week away from screening – it looks like the project will go ahead.

The Gamechangers will debut in the UK on BBC Two on September 15. No word yet on international showings.

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