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The Gamechangers

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The Gamechangers is a BBC drama, first broadcast on BBC2 on 15 September 2015.


The programme stars Daniel Radcliffe as Sam Houser and takes place in 2002. The programme tells the story of a three year period of intense controversy in the history of the development of the GTA series. It also tells the story of how British game designers pushed boundaries into uncharted territory, of how those fighting against GTA became consumed with a battle that overtook their lives, and how the subsequent fallout threatened to bring down high-ranking employees on both sides. The programme is in fact based on court documents and interviews with many of those involved in the events behind the story.


The story is set in 2002, after the successful release of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Sam Houser is looking for ideas to produce the new Grand Theft Auto game; Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Sam is looking to reach the boundaries and include what an adult gamer would want from a game; violence, cars and sex. Sam and the rest of Rockstar's developers visit the streets of Los Angeles for inspiration of the violence aspect of the game, brainstorming with the atmosphere, the people, and the guns.

The entire project is halted, after a black teenager gamer (who played Grand Theft Auto: Vice City excessively) is arrested, and kills several police officers. Rockstar are claimed to be the cause of the shooting, after they state the video games they produce are mentally affecting teenagers to be violent and commit real-life crimes. Sam denies the allegations, stating that the game is purely fictional, and is rated 18 (for adults), in which, he claims it is the parents' fault for letting the teenagers play the game in the first place.

After the news of the shooting becomes viral, one civilian, Jack Thompson, spots the news on his laptop, and immediately becomes interested to support any allegations against Rockstar. He becomes determined to convince parents and teenagers that violent video games are bad, and are responsible for violent crimes in the real world, which puts strain onto Rockstar Games.

The case is quickly taken to court, where Rockstar are put under the aforementioned allegation. After reviewing the points Jack Thompson makes, and several points Sam Houser makes against the allegation, the court's judge quickly dismisses the court as successful on Rockstar's behalf, claiming that the video game in no way afflicted with the criminal's murders to the several police officers, and cannot be proven otherwise.

After the successful court case, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas becomes well under development, with the initial game's integral structure and engine already undergo. Sam Houser begins to consider the "sex" part of GTA San Andreas. He claims that he wants the player to be able to simulate real life with the game, and if films and books can contain sexual content, there's no reason the exclude a video game from the feature. The team start to produce the mini-game, commonly known as "hot coffee", where the player can have "full-on sex" and/or "blow-jobs". After months of debates, and several points made from Dan Houser, the idea of Hot Coffee was scrapped, since the ratings would be heavily effected with the use of sexual content in such a way.

Finally, the game is released, and the first copy of GTA San Andreas is given to a reviewer. The game is reviewed, and is certified for sales on the market. Once the game was released, it quickly became popular, with thousands of sales instantly. The game hit the main news, and the exciting news gave Rockstar a large amount of credit. However, the controversy of Grand Theft Auto was quickly brought back, after a player found the remaining "hidden" files for Hot Coffee. The files in the game were accessed to reveal the entire minigame, and were inserted into the game by the player, and the mini-game was put on YouTube. The YouTube video became expeditiously popular and ESRB quickly change their minds about the rating of the game, changing it from "Mature" to "Adult". However, prior to the change, Rockstar denies all allegations of the mini-game, and Sam Houser claims the mini-game was scrapped in development, but the files remained in the game. He is questioned further, and is asked why the files still remained in the code, Sam Houser states that is "isn't easy to simply remove the files, as it can unexpectedly have side effects on other parts of the game". All games are stopped from being supplied from stores as the allegations return to court once again.

When the allegation was taken to court, it was found out that Jack Thompson had made 32 false allegations and claimants against Rockstar in determination to destroy Rockstar Games. Because of this, the allegations were once again thrown out of caught, Rockstar succeeding again, and Thompson disbarred.

Rockstar Games' Reaction


Rockstar Games did not endorse the programme, with Take-Two Interactive filing a lawsuit against the BBC for copyright infringement. However, they were unsuccessful in their attempt to halt production of the programme.

On 16 September, the day after the programme was broadcast, Rockstar Games' official Twitter account referred to the programme as "random, made up bollocks". [1]



THE GAMECHANGERS Trailer (2015) Daniel Radcliffe BBC Grand Theft Auto Movie00:31

THE GAMECHANGERS Trailer (2015) Daniel Radcliffe BBC Grand Theft Auto Movie



  • Several Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto V content pictures (including pictures of GTA V's Fusilade and various other HD Universe vehicles) can be seen in the background, despite the programme being set between 2002 and 2006, two years before the HD Universe was developed. YouTube videos of the Hot Coffee Modification are also used to represent the controversy when the revelations surfaced, even though the Hot Coffee controversy surfaced during 2004 and YouTube was not founded until the following year.

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