Posted on Thursday, September 3rd, 2015 by Ethan Anderton
One of the most controversial video game franchises ever made is Rockstar Games’ super violent Grand Theft Auto. Few games have drawn the vitriol of various organizations against violence in video games in the name of just wanting to keep the kids safe. Now the story of how the game was created, and the protests that followed, will be told on the big screen.
The BBC is behind a TV movie called The Gamechangers starring Harry Potter franchise lead Daniel Radcliffe as Rockstar Games co-founder Sam Houser, who found himself in a battle with Christian lawyer Jack Thompson (Bill Paxton) as Thompson tried to shut down the production of the Grand Theft Auto video games. Watch The Gamechangers trailer after the jump!
Here’s the short teaser trailer that aired on BBC (via Tumblr):
Rockstar Games had no involvement with this production, and they’re even suing BBC to “ensure that our trademarks are not misused in the BBC’s pursuit of an unofficial depiction of purported events related to Rockstar Games.” Could that controversy help get some extra eyes on this project? Maybe, but otherwise this unfortunately has the feel of a made-for-TV movie, unlike most of the HBO Films productions which would easily fit in on the big screen.
At the very least, seeing Daniel Radcliffe clash with Bill Paxton should be an interesting face-off. However, we will probably have to wait awhile before we get a chance to see this in the United States, because it airs on BBC Two on September 15th this month, but has no set plan for a release in the US just yet. But maybe it will end up on BBC America at some point.
The inspiration for the movie comes from David Kushner’s book Jacked, which chronicled the creation of the Grand Theft Auto games, with a script from James Wood (Rev, Ambassadors). Directing is Owen Harris, who has the dark comedic thriller Kill Your Friends on the way this fall as well.
If you want to know more about The Gamechangers, here’s the extended official synopsis from BBC:
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In Autumn 2013, the game’s latest iteration – GTA: V – earned $1bn in just three days, becoming the fastest-selling entertainment product in history. But this drama goes back to 2002, to tell the story of a three-year period of intense controversy in the history of this iconic game’s development. It happened when two passionate men on either side of a high-stakes cultural divide clashed. This conflict, between the creative genius behind the game and a self-styled crusader for American morality, escalated into a fight for the hearts, minds and freedoms of an entire gaming generation.
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.
At the vanguard of this crusade is the formidable Christian lawyer Jack Thompson, a man determined to do whatever he can to stop the relentless rise of the game and its influence on children. The Gamechangers tells the story of how British game designers pushed boundaries into uncharted territory, of how those fighting GTA became consumed by a battle which overwhelmed their lives, and how the subsequent fallout threatened to bring down leading players on both sides.