Hogwarts Legacy is set to be released in Australia on February 10 and people are torn about it. On one hand, Hogwarts Legacy, set in the magical school back in the 1800s, looks like an incredible game and an absolute must-play for anyone who has read a Harry Potter book or watched a Harry Potter movie. On the other hand, buying it gives profits to the Wizarding World’s creator — card-carrying transphobe J.K. Rowling.
It’s the ethical dilemma that many Harry Potter fans have faced over the past few years. How could the person who created the beautiful, fantastical universe we immersed ourselves in as kids (and continue to consume as adults) be so evil, so narrow-minded? And how can we keep enjoying J.K. Rowling’s art without endorsing her as a human being?
It seems somehow easier to distance yourself if you already own the books / audiobooks or stream the movies on your TV. It feels less like a direct deposit into J.K. Rowling’s bank account if you read a book you purchased years ago, or pay a streaming service for the pleasure of watching The Prisoner Of Azkaban.
But the prospect of buying a brand-new game created by Portkey Games studio — which is directly owned by Warner Bros. and Wizarding World, J.K. Rowling’s media franchise — is making some people feel torn.
Do you boycott the game because of Rowling’s views? Or do you buy it to support the talented game developers behind it?
Where do we land on the topic of the franchise existing beyond its creator and this game being the product of a generation of creators eager for people to play their game despite of Rowling? Are we punishing the wrong people by boycotting the game?— Benjamin Sawyer (@sketchsawyer) January 16, 2023
Back in 2020 when the game was in development, it was reported that Rowling’s views made the development team “uncomfortable.”
And this week Hogwarts Legacy director Alan Tew has kinda, sorta touched on the discourse during an interview with gaming site IGN.
“I think for us there are challenges in every game we’ve worked on,” Tew told the publication when asked about the ethical “discrepancies” surrounding Hogwarts Legacy.
“This game has been no different. When we bumped into those challenges, we went back and refocused on the stuff that we really care about.
“We know our fans fell in love with the Wizarding World, and we believe they fell in love with it for the right reasons.
“We know that’s a diverse audience. For us, it’s making sure that the audience, who always dreamed of having this game, had the opportunity to feel welcomed back. That they have a home here and that it’s a good place to tell their story.”
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
IGN points out that Tew never addressed J.K. Rowling’s views or named her directly during their interview (who is she, Lord Voldemort?). Writer Luke Winkie notes that when he asked the director about Rowling, Tew “reiterated his earlier statement: That the team made Hogwarts Legacy for everyone.”
For what it’s worth, IGN notes that the game’s character creator section is “broadly inclusive” and allows for “gender variance”, in which players can choose their vocal tone, body type and whether they want to be referred to as a witch or wizard in separate sliders. As in, you could choose to have breasts and be called a wizard.
Hmm, wonder how they got that one past J.K. Rowling?
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