“The Gamechangers” stars Daniel Radcliffe (right) as one of the creators of “Grand Theft Auto”.
Joe Alblas/BBC

Rockstar Games has fired back at a new drama set behind the scenes of Grand Theft Auto, calling the show “random” and “made up”. The game developer was giving its verdict on BBC docudrama “The Gamechangers” starring Daniel Radcliffe, shown in the UK on Tuesday.

“The GameChangers” sees “Harry Potter” star Radcliffe play Sam Houser, who led the development of several entries in the phenomenally successful but hugely controversial Grand Theft Auto game series. The docudrama, set in 2002, focuses on the period between GTA: Vice City and its sequel, GTA: San Andreas, when US lawyer Jack Thompson launched legal action against the makers of the game that he believed were a negative influence on young players.

On its official Twitter feed, Rockstar aimed two tweets at UK broadcaster BBC while the docudrama was on air. Referring to popular British childrens’ shows of the 1970s and 1980s, the first tweet reads, “This new Rentaghost isn’t as good as I remember,” while the second asks “Was Basil Brush busy?”

More scathingly, the second tweet continues, “What exactly is this random, made up bollocks?”

The 90-minute drama switches between the Rockstar crew planning what would become GTA: San Andreas and the mounting legal crusade orchestrated by Thompson, played here by Bill Paxton. Thompson is depicted as having been galvanised into action by the case of a young gamer, Devin Moore, who steals a car and murders three police officers, a crime depicted by the drama in the over-the-shoulder viewpoint style of the game.

Rockstar was not involved in the production of the docudrama. The BBC says “The Gamechangers” draws instead on court documents and interviews from some of those involved.

In May of this year, Rockstar filed a lawsuit against the BBC for trademark infringement in relation to the show.

Some of those involved in the history of Grand Theft Auto took to Twitter during the broadcast to offer their own versions of the story. One of the makers of the first GTA, Steve Hammond, tweeted his memories of the time and shared photos of the developers working on the games.

Neither the BBC nor Rockstar immediately responded to a CNET request for further comment. If you’re in the UK, you can watch “The Gamechangers” on BBC iPlayer now. The BBC has yet to confirm whether the show will be screened in the US.


​Rockstar Games blasts 'random, made-up' Grand Theft Auto drama