Hogwarts Legacy is a new video game based on the Harry Potter series “J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” debuted this week to good sales and much criticism.
Why it is significant The game, which enables players to create their own wizard and attend magic school, has sparked debate among reviewers and fans on what should be done with Rowling-related ventures.
• The Potter author has been accused of transphobia since 2018, when she “liked” a tweet claiming that trans women are “boys in dresses,” which she denies (per Politico, she said it was for research purposes). Since then, she has made various comments about gender, including mocking the concept that “people who menstruate” might refer to anybody other than women.
• Despite boycott calls, Hogwarts Legacy has topped multiple PC and platform bestseller lists in the weeks leading up to its release, indicating substantial pre-order demand.
Bringing you the latest updates Some media include disclaimers in their reviews of Hogwarts Legacy, while others do not. This is a deviation from typical pre-release marketing. (At the moment, Warner Bros. controls access to the game; like any other publisher, it selects which outlets get review copies.)
• IGN, North America’s most well-known video game media outlet, published a rave but also a sidebar titled “concerning J.K. Rowling,” which states, inconclusively: “As critics, our job is to answer the question of whether or not we find Hogwarts Legacy to be fun to play and why; whether it’s ethical to play is a separate but still very important question.”
RockPaperShotgun, a British gaming site, is counter-programming with a series of articles about magical games produced by trans programmers.
• TheGamer, a Canadian magazine, is among those refusing to review Hogwarts Legacy. According to Stacey Henley, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, the newspaper will not give online training for the game, which would have been a significant source of revenue. We think that Harry Potter’s continued popularity just provides her a larger platform and legitimises her opinions, which we believe are harmful to trans people. This has nothing to do with royalties or financial backing for J.K. Rowling.
Within the text: Rowling’s Hogwarts Legacy may make money for her, but she did not write it. Avalanche Software, a Warner Bros. subsidiary, developed it.
According to the official FAQ, J.K. Rowling had no involvement in the game’s development.”
Detractors, though, argue that Rowling would still benefit from its popularity. One of the game’s actors has joined those from the Potter films who have distanced themselves from Rowling and publicly supported trans rights, stating that he is “extremely sorry to anyone hurt” by his inclusion in the game.
Some fans have sworn not to buy the game in the meanwhile due to “the misery and suffering of being a Harry Potter fan of late,” as described by the Washington Post.
What they’re saying: Despite some hints, the game’s creators have mostly avoided publicly addressing the Rowling debate.
The fact that the game will enable players to construct trans characters by isolating gendered language from body and voice selections during the user’s character creation process has been seen as a veiled critique of Rowling. We want everyone who is passionate about this world, these stories, and these individuals, he continued.
In December, when GameSpot writer Jessie Earl called support for Hogwarts Legacy “damaging,” Rowling addressed calls for boycotts of the game.
Rowling termed the notion “purethink” and tweeted a quote about it, adding that anybody who disagreed with her should burn down libraries.
Earl has since produced an essay for GameSpot on Rowling’s views and the game. It has yet to publish a game review.