The BBC has confirmed that Daniel Radcliffe will play Rockstar Games co-founder Sam Houser in its upcoming drama based around the creation of the Grand Theft Auto series.
Created as part of a campaign to get the UK into coding, the docu-drama will follow the events surrounding the creation of the franchise and the subsequent backlash against it. The criticism against violence in video games that it inspired will be a focus of the programme, which will look at the culture impact that Grand Theft Auto has had. Bill Paxton will play as Jack Thompson, the now disbarred attorney that campaigned against video games, famously referring to them as ‘mental masturbation’ and claiming that they contribute to violent and murderous tendencies in their younger users.
The choice of GTA as a subject for a show that is aimed at getting young people into coding has been questioned considering the games in the franchise are all designated for over-18s.
The synopsis from the BBC is as follows:
“Conceived for an adult audience, this special 90-minute drama tells the story of the controversy surrounding the computer game Grand Theft Auto – arguably the greatest British coding success story since Bletchley Park. Its triumph was down to a bunch of British gaming geniuses who had known each other since their school days, and at the heart of it all was GTA’s creative mastermind, Sam Houser. In autumn 2013 its latest iteration – GTA V – earned $1bn in its first three days, becoming the fastest selling entertainment product in history.
“But the violent gameplay coupled with its outstanding commercial success leads to fierce opposition: from parents worried about children immersing themselves in such a violent world; from politicians, alarmed at the values they say it encourages; and above all from moral campaigners, who fight passionately to ban it. At the vanguard of this crusade is the formidable campaigning lawyer Jack Thompson, a man determined to do whatever he can to stop the relentless rise of GTA.”
The show, ‘Game Changer’, will be directed by Misfits’ Owen Harris and the script is written by James Wood. Filming began this April and it is expected to be broadcast later this year.