Hogwarts Legacy, the open wizard world game set in the Harry Potter universe, was mired in controversy long before its release. Even after the game’s launch, it remains a thoroughly controversial topic, with several game providers refusing to report on it and others providing additional context to shed light on specific issues surrounding the game that many consumers may have missed. Read on to find out exactly what was going on in the world of the Boy Who Lived.
JK Rowling and transphobic rhetoric
Arguably the biggest elephant in the room is the author of the Harry Potter series herself, JK Rowling. For a blessed time, the worst thing Rowling was known for was her rather mildly centrist politics, but in 2020 she began addressing transphobic topics of conversation on Twitter, such as: mocking an article that referred to “people who menstruate” and equate the existence and idea of a gender spectrum and non-binary gender as “[erasing] the lived reality of women worldwide.” These days, Rowling freely identifies with the term “TERF” (trans-exclusionary radical feminist), though she often denies that she is actually transphobic. Despite this, she has often found herself in the company of other well-known transphobes such as Maya Forstater and Graham Linehan, and is strengthening transphobic organizations such as the LGB Alliance while railing against trans-inclusive organizations such as Mermaids and Stonewall.
But what does that have to do with Hogwarts Legacy? Well, while it has been confirmed that Rowling was not directly involved in the development of the game, the world of Hogwarts Legacy is nonetheless based entirely on her intellectual property. Even if she weren’t getting royalties for Legacy — which she obviously is — Rowling made it pretty clear that she personally sees the financial and cultural capital she receives from her intellectual property as a validation of her worldview. As a result, many potential buyers of the game have a hard time justifying money, airtime, and support finding their way to someone actively working to make the world a worse place for trans people.
Goblins and anti-Semitic tropes
The Harry Potter books were already a point of uneasiness for some in the Jewish community, largely because of the portrayal and description of most of the goblin characters in them. With hooked noses and an obsession with coins that makes them the de facto banker class in the wizarding world, goblins stray uncomfortably close to many of the anti-Semitic tropes that survive in the real world to this day. Harry Potter is far from the only fantasy IP to use this problematic shorthand to create an entire race – Tolkien’s dwarfs have had similar discussions floating around for decades – although Rowling sees fit to include a few basic human rights from this one remove the magical underlayer and throw in a few more centuries of oppression and rebellion.
Unfortunately, Hogwarts Legacy pushes these associations even further. Set during one of the aforementioned goblin rebellions in 1890, Legacy sees players attempting to thwart Ranrok, the goblin leader who hunts the same forbidden magical artifacts as them. However, instead of being more sympathetic to the villain, the writers portray him as greedy and power-hungry, rather than the leader of an oppressed group trying to make things right for them. In a vacuum, this wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing – there are a lot of unlikable villains in video games, after all – but coupled with the parallels to Jewish history, the ties to common to anti-Semitic conspiracies, and the anti-Semitic imagery in the game, it didn’t for many gamers got it right. To make matters worse, players soon discovered that one of the goblin artifacts is simply a shofar, a Jewish musical instrument that itself references a goblin rebellion of 1612 – the same year as the real Fettmilch Rebellion that ended in a brutal pogrom against the Jewish population.
JK Rowling’s transphobic comment and possible anti-Semitic tropes are the main points of contention being discussed about Hogwarts Legacy, but there are a few other, arguably minor, issues that have also been reported that are making fans uncomfortable. In 2021, designer Troy Leavitt left the project after his YouTube channel, which featured a lot of anti-social justice and pro-GamerGate content, came to light. Though he stated that the choice was his own, many assumed the release of his videos was a catalyst in the decision.
Eyebrows were also raised when it was revealed that players could freely use unforgivable curses in the game – namely the Imperius Curse, the Cruciatus Curse and the Killing Curse, each of which can put their targets under mind control, torture or murder. The inclusion of the curses themselves wasn’t necessarily the main concern, but the fact that the game doesn’t seem to care whether you use them or not.
Finally, presumably to differentiate themselves from Rowling, the game’s developers included the first official trans character in the Harry Potter universe. However, fans were divided over the earnings of Sirona Ryan, who works at a bar in Hogsmeade.
https://www.gamepur.com/guides/why-is-hogwarts-legacy-controversial-explained Why is Hogwarts Legacy controversial? Explained