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- Hogwarts Legacy
Hogwarts Legacy has been announced, with the Harry Potter action-RPG being revealed during this week’s PlayStation 5 Showcase event. However, accusations of transphobia leveled at Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling have already caused many to state they will boycott the game, while Warner Bros. has confirmed her lack of involvement in its development.
Hogwarts Legacy was announced during a week in which J.K. Rowling’s new Strike novel Troubled Blood was criticized for its inclusion of a cross-dressing murderer. Rowling has previously made several comments that have been deemed anti-transgender, leading to her being branded a TERF — “trans-exclusionary radical feminist” — by her critics. As such, her writing an antagonist who uses women’s clothing and a wig to abduct female victims has caused concern, and has made many call for a boycott of the latest Harry Potter game.
Why are Harry Potter fans calling for a Hogwarts Legacy boycott?
The action RPG was announced during the PlayStation 5 Showcase event, revealing a brand new adventure set before the events of the Harry Potter series. In an FAQ published by WB Games, the company notes that J.K. Rowling isn’t helping develop the game.
“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,” the FAQ reads. “This is not a new story from J.K. Rowling.”
Regardless, the success of Hogwarts Legacy inevitably helps further the success of Rowling, who has repeatedly made divisive comments about the transgender community. In June, Rowling responded to an article referring to “people who menstruate,” sarcastically replying: “I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”
After receiving backlash for this comment, the author published a blog post explaining her “reasons for speaking out on sex and gender issues,” which also included a series of debunked arguments, including the conflation of sex and gender. Rowling’s comments caused Harry Potter actors Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint to individually show their support for the trans community.
This ongoing controversy has caused many Harry Potter fans to reassess their relationship with the series, and to question if the art can be separated from the artist when said artist is still actively working against the beliefs they uphold. This extends to Hogwarts Legacy, with some saying they will boycott the game regardless of Rowling’s lack of direct involvement with it, while others want to pledge their support to the Avalanche Software developers by continuing to purchase it.
I have empathy for people who don't want to boycott mainly because it seems extremely futile – JKR can't be "fired" and even if she could she would never in her lifetime feel the affects of it financially. But idk "supporting the devs" doesn't ring true as a reason
— Jenny Nicholskeleton (@JennyENicholson) September 16, 2020
According to a June report from Bloomberg, Avalanche Software was “rattled” by J.K. Rowling’s comments. “The situation made some members of the team uncomfortable and sparked private discussions among staff over the pandemic water cooler, the workplace communication app Slack,” the report claims.
J.K. Rowling has an estimated net worth of at least $670 million (via Business Insider), meaning that even an extensive boycott of Hogwarts Legacy would not result in any significant monetary damage to her career. However, the discussion surrounding the game highlights how the author’s declining reputation may also taint the Wizarding World universe for many of its fans, and how this same discussion will likely present itself with all future Harry Potter-related projects.