British broadcaster BBC is creating a television drama about the success and controversy of the hit PlayStation, Xbox, and PC game franchise, Grand Theft Auto. The show is part of a new set of “Make it Digital” programming aimed to inspire its audience to get into coding and digital technology that includes initiatives surrounding popular shows like Doctor Who and EastEnders.
The 90-minute drama is being created by games and technology journalist Guy Cocker for the BBC and will focus on the making of Grand Theft Auto versus a fictionalized adventure set in the game’s universe. The studio behind GTA is, of course, based in the United Kingdom. Specifically, Rockstar North and its bevy of developers have been located in Scotland since it was founded as DMA Design in 1988.
— Guy Cocker (@guycocker) March 12, 2015
DMA Design saw success with Lemmings in the early 90s, but exploded as a studio in 1997 with the release of the first Grand Theft Auto. The success of the top-down PC game was partly attributed to a sensational marketing campaign that hyped its violent content, as noted by the Register in 2003.
Grand Theft Auto 2 was the first game that saw DMA Design merged into Rockstar Games and kept the same top-down design as the original when it was released in 1999. However, it expanded to PlayStation and Dreamcast consoles, which expanded the potential consumer base.
The GTA series blew up though when Grand Theft Auto 3 was released in 2001, followed by its two sequels – Vice City and San Andreas. The games reached PlayStation, Xbox, and PC players and sparked multiple controversies, including the infamous Hot Coffee mod as well as attracting the ire of anti-violent video game crusaders, such as Jack Thompson, who have regularly accused the franchise of inciting violence in kids who aren’t old enough to play the M-rated game to begin with.
The GTA series has gone on to be a monster success with the release of Grand Theft Auto V. The game earned $1 billion at release and has gone on to sell more than 45 million copies following its launch on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Whether the BBC drama on Grand Theft Auto will focus only on the early years of the game or touch on the violence and sex controversies in the later years remains to be seen.
A release date for the TV drama has not been announced yet, but the “Make it Digital” campaign is supposed to start this fall on the BBC.
[Images via Rockstar Games]