Constructed from court documents and interviews with unnamed persons, the BBC’s new factual drama, The Gamechangers professes to go behind the scenes of the development and controversial release of the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. It follows the British game designers — Rockstar Games, led by a passionate and bearded Sam Houser (Daniel Radcliffe) — as they battle with the equally determined figure of Christian lawyer, Jack Thompson (Bill Paxton) in the early ’00s.
The Gamechangers is a part of the BBC’s Make It Digital season, which is elsewhere described as ‘a major UK-wide initiative to inspire a new generation to get creative with coding, programming and digital technology.’ With all that in mind then, one might ask themselves why, when the show was aired, Rockstar Games officially live-tweeted: “What exactly is this random, made-up bollocks?”
Let’s press ‘reset’ and go back to the beginning.
The Gamechangers opens in New York City, circa 2002, the day after Rockstar’s GTA: Vice City has launched. For a show that was produced by BBC Scotland with the agenda outlined above, the interesting thing to note here is that whilst the parent company was based in America, Rockstar North: the actual developer of both GTA: Vice City and the subsequent GTA: San Andreas, were — and still are — based in Scotland. If the BBC were that worried about confusing international audiences, maybe they could have just included a map – just like those Rockstar provides with their GTA games…
The full 1,800 word version of this review is published at PopMatters.com, where you can read the rest of the article for free.