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Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Trailer Released for The Gamechangers from the BBC

Now, most of the entertainment news comes from America, with the exception of certain geeky-British shows such as Doctor Who and Sherlock. This is something entirely different, but still entirely geeky and wholly interesting.

Made by the BBC, The Gamechangers is a 90-minute dramatisation of the legal battle between Rockstar and Jack Thompson, the US lawyer who sought tighter restrictions and outright bans on violent games. Back in to early 2000s Jack Thompson involved himself in murder cases involving young men, and tried to argue a link between their crimes and violent video games. He fought against Bully, Manhunt, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto 4, in an attempt to prevent the games from being sold in the US.


The BBC synopsis explores this in more detail;

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.

This drama is for an adult audience and has not been authorised by the producers of Grand Theft Auto. Rather, it is based on court documents and interviews with many of those involved in the real events behind this compelling story.

Now, that last part is rather interesting to me, as the last time I heard about this project was back in May, when it was reported that Take-Two Interactive, the owner of Rockstar Games, was suing the BBC for trademark infringement. It seems to have been acknowledged by the BBC, but done nothing to deter the project.

The dramatisation looks to be on top form, and with a beardy Daniel Radcliffe front-and-center, this looks to be one to watch. The Gamechangers will air on BBC Two on the 15th of September at 9pm.



Daniel Delargy
Daniel Delargy
I read. I write. I play.

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