Hogwarts Legacy, Avalanche Software’s action-role playing game set within the Potterverse, just released its cinematic trailer. However, the game has had the Internet divided over the controversy surrounding Harry Potter author JK Rowling's TERF activism.
What: Developed by Avalanche Software and published by Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment under, the game is set in the Wizarding World against the backdrop of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, based on the Harry Potter novels.
Have a look at the cinematic trailer for Hogwarts Legacy:
Make way for the backlash: Set to release next month, Hogwarts Legacy has been met with significant backlash and calls for boycott due to the ongoing controversy surrounding JK Rowling's TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) activism.
Where it all began: The controversy began in June 2020 when Rowling made a series of tweets and wrote an essay in which she expressed her opposition to transgender rights, including using the term "people who menstruate" instead of "women". According to the author, her readings of gender dysphoria presented her with what she describes as “the allure of escaping womanhood” through the process of transition.
Multiple women’s groups have presented well-sourced evidence to @NicolaSturgeon’s government about the likely negative consequences of this legislation for women and girls, especially the most vulnerable. All has been ignored. If the legislation is passed 1/2— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) March 7, 2022
These statements were widely criticised by the LGBTQIA+ community and allies as transphobic and harmful, and Rowling faced significant backlash and calls to cancel her from many individuals and organisations.
'Boycott Hogwarts Legacy': The backlash against Rowling's TERF activism has now extended to the upcoming Hogwarts Legacy. Many individuals and groups have called for a boycott of the game, arguing that it is unacceptable to support Rowling and her transphobic views by purchasing and playing the game.
My request to you all: please don't support Hogwarts Legacy pic.twitter.com/YQXsHo2Mil— Will Overgard (@Will_Overgard) January 16, 2023
One of the primary reasons for the boycott is that many individuals feel that Rowling's TERF activism is in direct opposition to the values and themes of the Harry Potter series, which promotes acceptance, diversity, and inclusivity. Many fans of the series have been deeply disappointed and hurt by Rowling's comments, and see her views as a betrayal of the series' message.
Please don't support Hogwarts Legacy.— Nick 🧡 (@LiveActionPixel) January 16, 2023
JK has said on several occasions she uses the sales of her brand as a direct sign of support for her transphobia and bigotry.
Supporting the game is directly saying you support her views.... pic.twitter.com/LHfMlnnvrG
Additionally, many individuals have pointed out that the Harry Potter series has a large and dedicated fanbase within the LGBTQIA+ community, and that Rowling's TERF activism is particularly hurtful and harmful to this group. By continuing to support Rowling and her views, many argue that the developers and publishers of the game are complicit in the harm caused to the LGBTQIA+ community.
From someone who was literally a poster child for the Hogwarts School Choir at Universal Studios… if I can not buy Hogwarts Legacy, so can you. It really is that easy. This was one of the best, most memorable parts of my life, but JKR is harming people I care about. pic.twitter.com/X0BpNHNiP0— Sarah Daniels (@SarahDaniels) January 15, 2023
Ensure that the game is inclusive: Furthermore, many have stated that the game's developers and publishers have a responsibility to take a stand against Rowling's TERF activism and to ensure that the game is inclusive and respectful of all players, including trans individuals. They argue that a boycott is a way to send a message to the developers and publishers that transphobia will not be tolerated and that the game must be inclusive and respectful of all players.
To top it off, the game has also raised eyebrows for its inclusion of a character customisation feature that allows players to create and play as a non-binary or transgender character.
Forced diversity: Critics of the game argue that the Harry Potter series does not include any explicit representation of non-binary or transgender characters, and that the inclusion of these options in the game is a form of ‘forced diversity’ that does not align with the established canon of the series. They argue that the game is not an accurate representation of the Potterverse and that it is an attempt to appeal to a more progressive audience.
Support for Hogwarts Legacy: On the other hand, supporters of the game argue that the franchise has always been about inclusivity and acceptance, and that the inclusion of non-binary and transgender characters in the game is a natural extension of this message.
The controversy surrounding the game has also sparked a larger conversation about representation in videogames and the role of creators in shaping the worlds and characters that players interact with.
Some argue that creators have a responsibility to be mindful of the messages that their games are sending and that they should strive to create inclusive and diverse worlds.
Others argue that creators should be free to create whatever worlds and characters they want, and that players should be able to make their own choices about which games they want to play.
i was planning on playing hogwarts legacy and inviting every streamer friend who plan on playing it to a healthy competition to do a fundraiser for trans charities of our choosing. i’m still considering it.— hasanbabi (@nothasanabi) January 18, 2023
The battle on Twitter: There are voices of support and criticism both on Twitter. Some users argue that the game should be judged on its own merit, rather than being boycotted because of the views of its creator. Rowling is not directly involved in the development of the game and boycotting it could harm the careers of the developers who worked on it, feel the supporters.
"If you buy Hogwarts Legacy or like Harry Potter you're automatically a transphobe."— The Act Man (@TheActMan_YT) January 11, 2023
That's like saying if you've ever played a Blizzard game, you're automatically a fan of sexual harassment.
Where tf do people come up with these scarlet brain rot takes?
To the memes: However, the Internet making memes and mocking the boycott of Hogwarts Legacy can be harmful in an increasing number of ways.
The incessant ridiculing of the criticisms levelled against the game minimises the very real harm and discrimination that trans individuals face. By making jokes and memes about the boycott, it sends the message that trans rights and issues are not important or worthy of consideration.
Them: If you buy Hogwarts Legacy you can't call yourself an ally.— Verbal Riot (@verbalriotshow) January 13, 2023
Me after pre-ordering the DELUXE EDITION just now... pic.twitter.com/YKCRkZv8O6
The CEOs of trans suicide on February 10th, the day Hogwarts Legacy is released pic.twitter.com/YQlmIpjZmu— Misfit, Rowling’s Top Pureblood (@TrvthfvlTreason) January 10, 2023
Gamers watching suicide rates skyrocket after Hogwarts Legacy sells one billion copies pic.twitter.com/YZFNzOhxgV— Manlet Thorin (@ManletThorin) January 10, 2023
It also furthers the idea that trans individuals should not be taken seriously or respected in their calls for boycotts and activism and may also make trans individuals feel unwelcome or unsupported in online communities, further perpetuating their marginalisation and discrimination.
Hogwarts Legacy will first be available on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC on February 10, before releasing on old-generation consoles and Nintendo Switch this summer.