Can You Still Be An Ally And Play Hogwarts Legacy?
Although many of us expected to be happily zooming around Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry on our brooms by now, it's no secret that Avalanche Software's Hogwarts Legacy is currently MIA on the Marauder's Map.
You might be forgiven for thinking that the long-awaited open-world Harry Potter game has been struck by a Killing Curse. Aside from a reveal trailer at 2020's PlayStation 5 event, Hogwarts Legacy has been quieter than Harry in his Invisibility Cloak. While there are any number of reasons why this could be the case, it's no coincidence that J.K. Rowling has been branded something of a Dementor by even her most die-hard fans.
Jump forward to early 2022, and we're still no closer to ducking out of Potions Class to play hooky by the Forbidden Forest. We've been promised that Hogwarts Legacy is coming this year, but that's not the biggest problem. Due to Rowling's outspoken views on the transgender community, many muggles have vowed to boycott the AAA title. The question is, can you still be an ally and enjoy Hogwarts Legacy?
What Did J.K. Rowling Say?
Dipping away from video games for a moment, the issue with "She Who Must Not Be Named" first reared its head in 2020. On June 6, the acclaimed author shared an op-ed about people who menstruate. Rowling took issue with the fact the world "people" was used instead of "women," with some questioning her views on gender. Rowling made her stance clear, but instead of embracing the transgender community, doubled down on assumptions she's transphobic.
It was a crushing blow for the Potterverse - especially considering the Wizarding World is supposed to be one of inclusion. Ironically, it lifted the lid on a whole host of other arguments that have now expanded to accusations of anti-Semitic goblins and a reminder the only Chinese character is called Cho Chang.
Since Rowling first raised her wand in defiance, a who's who of actors have rallied against her, with even the big three of Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint saying they stand with the transgender community. Even Stephen King stood against her, which led to her deleting a previously gushing tweet about him and then blocking him. A few had Rowling's corner, but having a cis white male like Robbie Coltrane backing you up is hardly a tick in the diversity box.
This has put Hogwarts Legacy in something of a sticky situation, especially as it was presumably well into production when Rowling threw a Blast-Ended Skrewt into the TERF wars. We still got the reveal as part of the PS5 event, but as Rowling continued to burn the pink, white, and blue flag, more fans turned against her.
What Has Hogwarts Legacy Said About J.K. Rowling?
Pre-empting problems casting a Dark Mark into the sky, Avalanche and Warner Bros. went out of their way to reiterate transgender character options will be available in Hogwarts Legacy. Then again, with the likes of The Sims offering customisation free from gender restrictions, it shouldn't have to be a big deal these days.
The troubled team also put distance between Hogwarts Legacy and Rowling, with an FAQ on the game's site reading: "J.K. Rowling is not directly involved in the creation of the game, however, her extraordinary body of writing is the foundation of all projects in the Wizarding World. This is not a new story from J.K. Rowling." That's all well and good, but what about the IP in general?
With Rowling holding the Portkeys to the whole Wizarding World, the fact her locations and (potentially) characters like Albus Dumbledore will be used mean she's still set to make a pretty penny. No matter what way you look at it, picking up a copy of Hogwarts Legacy means you're inadvertently lining her pockets.
Let's also remember that those at the top are unwilling to pick a side. Warner Bros. Games President David Haddad addressed employee concerns that they were being aligned with the Wizarding World of TERF-y Rowling, he gave a typically vague response where he said, "I might not agree with her on a range of topics, but I can agree that she has the right to hold her opinions."
HBO dodged around Rowling like she was the plague ahead of its recent reunion, and as the famous faces of the record-breaking franchise gathered together, the author's name was only used 10 times in the nearly two-hour special. Hogwarts Legacy has done much the same in its FAQ, but to many, it's not enough.
Is It Okay To Play Hogwarts Legacy?
These days, it's unfortunate that Rowling's day-to-day conversation is bogged down in trans-exclusionary arguments instead of putting her significant platform to good use. Refusing to step away, she repeatedly hammers home her views on trans rights and engages in arguments whenever she can. It's hardly doing the tarnished sheen of the Potterverse any good.
It undoubtedly wasn't the fault of Avalanche and its employees, but much like how Activision Blizzard games have suffered in the wake of shocking allegations of frat boy culture from within, Hogwarts Legacy might be caught in the crossfire. Although we'll have to wait and see what the bottom line says upon release (whenever that is), there's a growing number of gamers that claim they'll boycott the whole thing or pick it up second-hand.
One way around this issue would be for Warner Bros. to donate a portion of the profits to a transgender charity. As well-received as this would be, it's unlikely to happen. Formally drawing battle lines against Rowling by donating to an LGBTQ+ cause would likely rattle her cage and have the lawyers swooping in with a Howler.
Instead, why not give your own money to charity or make the most of promoting trans witches and wizards on social media when Hogwarts Legacy releases? Whether you agree with Rowling or not, it's important to distinguish from the ludicrous notion that playing Hogwarts Legacy would make you transphobic.
Ultimately, there's no right or wrong answer as we navigate our very own Wizarding War of significant conversations and calling out discrimination. While we'll be picking up a copy of Hogwarts Legacy, there are still those who are well within their rights to turn their back on the franchise forever. You only have to look at the overwhelming reception to HBO's Harry Potter reunion or the hype surrounding Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore to see there's still a massive fan base that goes potty for Potter.
No matter what your foray into this magical world, developers, movie studios, and even general fans have Rowling's continuously transphobic rants hanging around their neck like a rotting albatross. The gaming community is a notoriously hard one to please, but by the looks of it, angry fans aren't willing to give Hogwarts Legacy its sock of freedom anytime soon.