At the San Diego Comic-Con, Daniel Radcliffe expressed disbelief in video game critics’ assertion that violent games make violent people. The Harry Potter star was also confused as to why Rockstar Games, developer of Grand Theft Auto, is suing the BBC over the production of Game Changer, a film that explores a censorship crisis surrounding the game.
The main conflict in the film will be between Radcliffe, who plays Rockstar Games’ co-founder Sam Houser, and Bill Paxton, who plays lawyer Jack Thompson, a figure well-known for his opposition to violent video games over claims that they cause real-world violence.
When asked whether violent video games make violent people, Radcliffe said, “It’s too simplistic… So many have played those games that have never gone on to kill somebody.”
Radcliffe said that he “grew up playing” Grand Theft Auto. Addressing Rockstar Games’ lawsuit against the BBC, the star said, “I don’t know what’s going on in their minds about suing us.” He said, “It’s not a biased film but like from the perspective as people who really have loved the games.” Although Rockstar Games is suing the BBC, Radcliffe remarked, “I really do think [the studio will] like it.”
“It was a lot of fun to play Sam Houser,” Radcliffe continued. “I think people who love the games will really be interested in how they came together… It takes place from after Vice City was released during San Andreas. It’s about the Hot Coffee incident,” referring to a Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas mod that allowed gamers to have sex with the main character’s girlfriends. In the unmodded version of the game, the girlfriend invites the main character inside the house for “some coffee.” When the player enters, the camera stays outside and sex sounds are heard. But with the Hot Coffee mod, gamers could view the actual sex, which Rockstar Games had disabled but not entirely removed prior to San Andreas’s release.
After the Hot Coffee mod was discovered, the ESRB re-rated San Andreas Adults Only, which resulted in GameStop, Target, Walmart, and other major retailers pulling the game from shelves. While Rockstar Games started working on a new version of the game that deleted the mod, Australia prohibited the original game’s sale. Rockstar Games patched San Andreas about two weeks later, removing the mod. But the Grand Theft Auto developers lost $28.8 million from May to July 2005, partly due to the ESRB’s re-rating, and had to pay $5 million as part of a class-action lawsuit.
The BBC’s hour-and-a-half drama Game Changer is set to debut in 2016.
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