Video Games: We Need to Talk About Hogwarts Legacy

Screenshot of the upcoming “Hogwarts Legacy”. Copyright of WB Games.

Hey! Hallie here!

This is a geek blog that has not only spoken on “Harry Potter” before, but involves two people who were obsessed with “Harry Potter” more than anything else for nearly half our lives. When I was sorted into Gryffindor it changed my life. I started believing I was brave enough to go after things I was too scared to do before. I’m also a huge supporter of the LGBTQ+ community and have been absolutely horrified by J.K. Rowling’s recent comments about the Trans community. And yeah, looking back at the books, there’s harmful stereotyping ingrained into many of the characters, and it goes far beyond the portrayal of twins. I can’t say I didn’t brush off my suspicion of characters like Cho Chang when I first read the books, and I regret not recognizing how blatantly racist her portrayal was. However, I’m also a giant video game fan and “Hogwarts Legacy” has been my dream game for many, many, years. So am I going to buy it? No. Absolutely not. I’m going to go through why in a second, but this topic is already so debated that I already know some of my points are going to be controversial. These are all my opinions. I’m absolutely up for a civil debate, but if talking about why I don’t think anyone should buy this game is going to trigger you, feel free to leave.

The Timing of the Announcement: I have a feeling this was purposeful and it’s both a very frustrating and very smart plan at the same time. The same week J.K. Rowling’s transphobia made it back into the news, we got the announcement for this game. If you haven’t heard the most recent news, early reviews for J.K. Rowling’s book under the name Robert Galbraith have come out. They aren’t pretty. It’s not simply that the book is bad, but that it depicts a man dressing up as a woman in order to murder people. Given her past comments about Trans women being untrustworthy, it’s absolutely unsurprising that she wrote something like this. It’s more revolting that she could be this blatant and disturbing. Only a few days after this topic became a popular conversation on most social media platforms, “Hogwarts Legacy” was announced. This is smart in the way that pretty much everyone is talking about “Harry Potter” right now. It’s also disturbing in how obviously insensitive this ploy is. Warner Brothers isn’t giving this time to die down so her transphobia is distanced from the game. (Although it never should be. Regardless of the creative team, Rowling will still profit off of this.) Instead they’re using it to keep their new game in the news. I can admire a smart tactic when I see one, but I can also hate it for how slimy it is.

Warner Brothers Comments: Almost immediately after “Hogwarts Legacy” began to come under fire, Warner Brothers released a statement ensuring that Rowling was not directly involved with the game. To be clear, this doesn’t mean that she wasn’t consulted at any point or that the game isn’t heavily influenced by her. In fact, Warner Brothers also stated that she was the foundation behind all writing in the Wizarding World. And regardless of what she did or didn’t contribute to the game, Warner Brothers is right. “Harry Potter” is J.K. Rowling’s baby and no matter what happens, she will have a hand in everything that comes out of the franchise. Warner Brothers can wave off her involvement all they want, but that won’t eliminate the fact that she will profit off of anything made under the name of “Harry Potter”.

The “Other Developers of the Game” Argument: So many people are talking about this. I’ve seen so many variations of, “I know I shouldn’t support Rowling, but what about everyone else who worked on the game?”. Yes, a lot of creative work went into “Hogwarts Legacy” and many of the people who worked on this game do not share the opinions of Rowling. But keep in mind, this is true of every boycott ever. Boycotting a company because of one person in a powerful position is also harming the other people who work for the same company. Does that mean we should stop boycotting overall? No! Boycotting is a form of peaceful protest and it’s made a difference on more that one occasion. I can’t promise that this game won’t make money, or that boycotting it will deal such a blow to Rowling that she’ll make a change, but it is important. I’ll get more into the importance of this below. As for the realism of this argument…uhhhh. Most of the game designers are being payed through salaries. This is way too big of a company to give them royalties as compensation.

Will Boycotting Hurt Rowling at All?: There’s no way to tell. “Harry Potter” is still a giant franchise and we can’t say this game won’t make money. In fact boycotting may not make a difference at all. But it’s important to stand with the Trans community at this time. Asking yourself what standing against “Hogwarts Legacy” is going to change is, obviously, not going to change anything. We have to start somewhere, and the best place to start is supporting the people who are hurting the most in this situation. Buying this game will only further the side that is standing against the Trans community.

Buying the Game and Donating to Trans Organizations: I saw a few influencers propose this solution to wanting the game. Whatever money they spend on the game, they would equal in the amount they donated to a Trans supporting organization. This, once again, accomplishes nothing. Giving money to both sides isn’t picking a side, and it most certainly isn’t standing with the Trans community. Why not put all of that money towards supporting a Trans organization? If everyone who wanted this game and also wanted to support the Trans community spent all the money they would have used to pay for the game on donating to a Trans organization, that would be making a statement. Giving money to both sides makes no statement at all.

Those are the main topics I’ve seen debated and I wanted to throw my two cents in. Like I said, I’ve been a “Harry Potter” fan for a long time. It changed my life in many ways, and I bonded with most of my friends over “Harry Potter”. I can’t begin to explain to you how heartbreaking I find this situation. And you should in no way hate on people who still like this series. In fact, I’ve seen many people in the Trans community re-claiming “Harry Potter” and I fully support this idea. But I don’t support J.K. Rowling. If you don’t support her either, if you don’t want to stand for her comments on Trans people, the answer is simple. Stop giving her money. Buy books or movies second hand. Stop going to “Fantastic Beasts” movies when they come out. Stop buying official “Harry Potter” merchandise. And most definitely do not purchase “Hogwarts Legacy” when it’s released.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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