Hogwarts Legacy, the forthcoming Harry Potter game, is set to feature trans-inclusive character creation, but fans aren’t having it.
Many gamers plan to boycott the game owing to explosive comments on trans lives and healthcare from Harry Potter author JK Rowling. WB Games studio Avalanche, who are developing the game, state on its website that the author is “not directly involved in the creation of the game”, yet fans remain undeterred.
Developers on the game reportedly “pushed hard” to include trans representation in the game, uncomfortable with Rowling’s comments.
Yet while the character creation is a step in the right direction for representation, the game is already tarnished in the eyes of fans.
“This news story about Hogwarts Legacy‘s apparent character creation options doesn’t go far enough for me to change my stance on the game,” said trans author and streamer Laura Kate Dale. “Lots of games without transphobes attached already offer this. Not gender locking character options isn’t enough to fix this.”
In June 2020, JK Rowling defended her anti-trans views in a lengthy essay, arguing against the rights of trans women to use single-sex spaces and peddling widely- debunked transphobic myths. The author has repeatedly denied she is transphobic but her comments are the key source of fan’s distrust of the game.
“Not enough for me to support a game that benefits dangerous transphobes who spread junk science around,” said critic James Stephanie Sterling.
“Rowling isn’t just a transphobe. She’s THE transphobe. She’s proud to be hurting vulnerable people. And the company is employing Gamergaters,” said Brianna Wu, executive director of political group Rebellion.
Despite Avalanche stating that Rowling is not involved in Hogwarts Legacy, as creator of the franchise she remains inherently linked.
As game critic Patrick Klepek explains, “One fundamental fact will remain unchanged: Rowling will still profit from the game’s release.”
Critic and streamer Kazuma Hashimoto feels similarly: “There might be the barest thread of inclusivity, but that doesn’t negate the fact that it directly supports a transphobe.”
Charlotte Clymer puts it simply: “Money to Rowling? No thanks.”
Some fans even claimed this news was a cynical PR move by the developer to drum up some positivity among a wave of criticism. This was later disputed by Jason Schreier, Bloomberg journalist who broke the story.
“The people leaking this news did it because development of the game started long before Rowling’s anti-trans crusade, and because they’re sad and frustrated,” he tweeted.
Schreier’s article explained the process of character creation in the game. Characters can have a masculine or feminine voice no matter what body type they choose. They will then select either ‘witch’ or ‘wizard’ to determine the dorm they’re placed in.
The latest controversy with Hogwarts Legacy was with one of its lead designers, Troy Leavitt, who runs a pro-Gamergate anti-social justice YouTube account. His involvement has further fuelled criticism of the game.
Fans have also joked about Rowling’s reaction to the game’s trans inclusion, summed up here by drag artist Juno Birch.