September 16th, 2015, 22:11 Posted By: wraggster
Last night saw the long-awaited airing of the BBC’s controversial dramatization of Rockstar’s creation of Grand Theft Auto, The Gamechangers.
At least, that is what we thought it would be about. In reality the 90-minute show didn’t seem to tell any particular story. The events depicted the period between the releases of GTA Vice City and San Andreas. Sam Houser, played by Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe, is shown as wanting to push the possibilities of the series, developing Vice City’s bite-sized cultural snapshot into the a fully-blown 3D world.
Houser’s desire to accurately depict sex in the game and the subsequent ‘Hot Coffee’ scandal formed the thrust of the narrative tension, although if any character provided the anchor to the events it was, bizarrely, disbarred lawyer Jack Thompson. His moral tirade against GTA, while at times presented as unhinged, also leant Thompson a depth of character not afforded to any others.
Ultimately he was the only figure the viewer was encouraged to sympathise with, at times leading to the feeling that if the BBC hoped to achieve anything it was to raise concern about video game violence.
None of which is to say that video game violence isn’t a subject that should be explored. Of course it is, and indeed, the most striking sequence of the film – Devin Moore’s murder of three – was designed explicitly to bring that subject into sharp contrast.
But in a film ostensibly pitched as part of the BBC’s Make It Digital education campaign, why this was chosen as the focus over GTA’s actual development is a mystery. In fact, the act of development itself was barely acknowledged, and when it was the details were more often than not farcical. At one point Houser asks for a new, in-house game engine – in the next scene he has one.
There’s also the issue of factual inaccuracies, which were of course inevitable but clearly proved a point of contention both for Rockstar and some of the individuals involved in the game’s development. Rockstar itself even challenged the BBC on Twitter, labelling the show as “random, made up bollocks”:
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