Here’s your first look at the BBC’s Grand Theft Auto docu-drama

The story of the biggest fight over violent video games, ever.


Dennis Scimeca

Internet Culture

Published Sep 4, 2015   Updated May 28, 2021, 12:55 am CDT

A new trailer for The Gamechangers gives you a look at Daniel Radcliffe in the role of Sam Houser, the reclusive game developer who founded Rockstar Games and created the Grand Theft Auto series.

The 90-minute BBC docu-drama is part of a larger initiative to inspire young Britons to take up careers in the programming industry, and there may be no more influential a British figure in video games than Houser. The Grand Theft Auto series continues to set the bar for quality and breadth of scope in open world games, and also has remained at the center of debates about video game violence.

Bill Paxton in The Gamechangers plays Jack Thompson, the former Florida-based lawyer who went on a campaign against violent hip-hop music and video games in a series of sensationalist court cases in the 1990s, and frequently had the Grand Theft Auto series in his sights. Thompson was disbarred in 2008.

Houser’s origins in the video game industry were chronicled in a rare interview granted to Playboy published in November 2013. Houser, the son of an actress and a lawyer who moonlighted as a jazz musician, found his calling by creating interactive music experiences at BMG, and negotiated a deal to sell BMG’s nascent video game division to a small company called Take-Two Interactive.

Take-Two Interactive is now the publisher for both Houser’s Rockstar Games, and 2K Games, with franchises like Grand Theft Auto, the Red Dead series, Max Payne, X-COM, Borderlands, and BioShock in its portfolio.

The Gamechangers was inspired by Jacked: The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto, written by David Kushner and published in 2012. Take-Two Interactive in May unsuccessfully attempted to block the release of The Gamechangers on the grounds of copyright infringement.

The Gamechangers is set for a Sept. 15 release on BBC Two in the U.K.

Screengrab via NewTrailersBuzz/YouTube

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*First Published: Sep 4, 2015, 6:08 pm CDT