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The Gamechangers

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Title: The Gamechangers  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Grand Theft Auto (series), Films about video games, Sam Houser, Grand Theft Auto/sandbox, Joe Dempsie
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

The Gamechangers

The Gamechangers
The Gamechangers title card
Genre Docudrama
Written by James Wood
Directed by Owen Harris
Starring Daniel Radcliffe
Bill Paxton
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
Executive producer(s) Mark Hedgecoe
Producer(s) Jim Spencer
Running time 90 minutes
Original channel BBC Two
Original release September 15, 2015 (2015-09-15)

The Gamechangers is a British docudrama produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the story of the controversy caused by Grand Theft Auto, a video game series by Rockstar Games, as various attempts were made to halt the production of the games. Directed by Owen Harris and written by James Wood, the film centres on the legal feud between Rockstar Games president Sam Houser (Daniel Radcliffe) and controversial attorney Jack Thompson (Bill Paxton) over Rockstar's popular video game series Grand Theft Auto, and the debate regarding the psychological effects of violent video games.[1]


  • Synopsis 1
  • Cast 2
  • Controversy 3
  • Reception 4
  • References 5


On the 27th October 2002, the New York-based British gaming company Rockstar Games releases Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, which immediately shatters sales records, with 1 million units sold within 24 hours, and is universally acclaimed for its authenticity, scale and gameplay. Inspired by the success of the game, heads of Rockstar, Sam and Dan Houser immediately begin planning another, even larger and more elaborate game, this time based on the gang wars of South Central Los Angeles. The following June, however, 17-year old Devin Moore — a persistent player of the game — shoots dead several police personnel in a police station in Fayette, Alabama and steals a police car. His case catches the eye of conservative Florida-based attorney Jack Thompson, who, upon questioning Moore in prison and playing the game for himself, theorises that the game's violent content and alleged glamorisation of criminal activity may have been the primary cause for his rampage. He gathers together some expert analysis of the effects of violent images on human brains and the use of violent video games in the military, and files a lawsuit against Rockstar Games and its publisher, Take-Two Interactive seeking damages on behalf of the families of the murdered personnel. This immediately earns him and his family the ire of the game's fans, who start vandalising their house and making threatening phone calls to their house phone.

Because of Thompson's outspokenness and violation of court protocol, such as appearing on television to discuss the case in detail, comparing the game to Michael Bay's Pearl Harbour and sending aggressive emails to the defendants, he is taken off the case, which is immediately thrown out on the basis that none of the plaintiffs had ever met Moore, despite claiming to be discussing his motivation. Thompson is outraged, and to make matters worse, Rockstar's law firm, Blank Rome decides to start legal proceedings to have him disbarred for his conduct. Although Rockstar Games is in the clear, Sam expresses his frustration at the constant accusations made against his game, feeling that he is being scapegoated for the failings of modern parents to raise their children properly and prevent them from getting involved in criminal activity. This soon boils over into his work life, where his new game (Bully and Manhunt 2) is already six months behind schedule, and he begins to overwork his producer and friend, Jamie King, while becoming irritable with his staff.

Eventually, the new game, Hillary Clinton, who likewise wishes to change the law regarding the sale of violent video games to minors.

Houser is forced to testify before the FTC to explain how the mod made it onto the final copy of the game, while at the same time Thompson is brought before a disciplinary hearing by the Florida Bar regarding his earlier actions. Ultimately, Rockstar settles their case, and Thompson is disbarred. However, the assistance he provided Senator Clinton allows her, along with Senators Joe Lieberman and Evan Bayh to pass the Family Entertainment Protection Act, which mandates a federal enforcement of ESRB ratings for video games. [2] However, this bill did not become law; it was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and expired at the end of the 109th session of Congress without further action.[3]


  • Daniel Radcliffe as Sam Houser, co-founder and president of Rockstar Games
  • Bill Paxton as Jack Thompson
  • Joe Dempsie as Jamie King, VP of development at Rockstar Games
  • Alex McGregor as Bridjet
  • Shannon Esra as Jen Kolbe, head of the publishing team at Rockstar Games
  • Mark Weinman as Terry Donovan, VP of marketing at Rockstar Games
  • Ian Keir Attard as Dan Houser, VP of creative at Rockstar Games
  • James Alexander as Tom Masters
  • Nick Boraine as Doug Lowenstein, president of the Entertainment Software Association
  • Fiona Ramsey as Patricia Thompson
  • Inge Beckmann as Michelle Gerilikos, a member of Blank Rome's lawyer team
  • Garion Dowds as Johnny Thompson
  • Nicole Sherwin as Jdg. Dava Tunis
  • D. David Morin as Jdg. Moore
  • Garth Breytenbach as Police Ofc. Arnold Strickland
  • Jenna Dover as Pat Vance
  • Thabo Rametsi as Devon Moore
  • Gideon Lombard as Patrick Wildenborg
  • Abena Ayivor as Laila
  • Thorsten Wedekind as Steve Strickland
  • Christiaan Schoombie as JP
  • Stephen Jennings as Lt. Col. Dave Grossman
  • Dean Fourie as Ray Reiser
  • Richard September as DJ Dog
  • David Butler as Dr. John Murray
  • Jan Neethling as Police Dispatcher Ace Mealer
  • Nkangisang Maduo as Police Cpl. James Crump
  • Bridget Thorpe as Mrs. Wildenborg


In May 2015, Rockstar filed a lawsuit against the BBC for trademark infringement, stating that they had no involvement with the development of the film and had unsuccessfully tried to contact the BBC to resolve the matter.[4]


IGN awarded it a score of 4.5 out of 10, saying "The story of GTA is a great one that deserves to be told, but Gamechangers barely scratches the surface."[5]Benji Wilson of The Telegraph awarded it 4 stars out of 5 and stated that "Radcliffe is excellent" and particularly praised the Alabama shooting scene for it having a similar perspective to games like Grand Theft Auto.[6]


  1. ^ Wilson, Benji (15 September 2015). "'"The Gamechangers, BBC Two, review: 'Radcliffe is excellent.  
  2. ^ Tilly, Chris (16 September 2015). "The Gamechangers Review".  
  3. ^ "S. 2126 [109th]: Family Entertainment Protection Act". Retrieved 2007-08-31. 
  4. ^ Krupa, Daniel (21 May 2015). "Rockstar Games Files Lawsuit Against the BBC".  
  5. ^
  6. ^ "'"The Gamechangers, BBC Two, review: 'Radcliffe is excellent. The Telegraph. 15 September 2015. Retrieved 24 October 2015. 
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