The controversy surrounding the ‘Hogwarts Legacy’ game

“Harry Potter” is one of the largest franchises worldwide and its mythos can be found across all types of media, such as books, film, television, broadway and videogames. The last of which is gearing up for the franchise’s biggest release yet, Avalanche Software’s “Hogwarts Legacy.”


According to CNBC, in 2016 the series was estimated to be worth $25 billion, a number which has no doubt increased, especially due to the creation of this 2023 action roleplaying game that promises to bring one’s very own wizarding world fantasy to life. The ethical cost however, may be too high for many.


In “Hogwarts Legacy,” players are able to create their own wizard within Hogwarts. Filled with cosmetic and environmental customization as well as choice based storytelling, immersion and capturing the magic within the world of Harry Potter are of utmost priority. 


Hogwarts players will choose their house, build relationships, tame beasts, master the art of magic and be embroiled within a conflict between wizards and goblins all while trying to uncover the secrets of ancient magic. Avalanche Software have delivered an experience that nearly any Potter fan would be ecstatic to enjoy, as evident by the shattering numbers the game is pulling in both sales and viewership.


However despite the positive reception to the game itself, there are many factors, namely one, outside of the game that are leading many to boycott the game entirely. That variable being the polarizing author of “Harry Potter” herself, J.K. Rowling.


Rowling has been heavily criticized for her stances on transgender people. In 2020, Rowling published a statement titled “TERF Wars” on her site, “TERF” being an acronym for “Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist,” a title that many have given the author. 


On her site, Rowling outlines that she believes that accepting transwomen as women would invalidate the experiences and struggles of cisgender women. She also claims that changing the way sex is legally defined would hurt organizations that aim to help primarily women and how her true concern is actually the health of young women.


The statements by Rowling caused a wave of backlash that only continues to grow with each new comment by the author, as she continues to double down.


“It’s unfortunate to see a creator of such a large, distinct and beloved franchise act and think the way J.K. Rowling does.” said Emma Broda, first-year history major. “It is important to remember that even though it’s a franchise you’re fond of, the woman behind it can be particularly immoral and controversial.”


Many believe that purchasing the new “Hogwarts Legacy” video game will contribute to transphobia, as Rowling passively profits off of the intellectual property. 


“I will no longer give my money or any form of support to anything associated with J.K. Rowling,” said Dr. Helen Davis, associate professor of English. “As a member of the LGBTQ+ community and as a feminist, I do not condone her transphobic statements and I reject the very notion that TERFs have any place within feminism. We all must decide if we want our money to support JKR’s bigotry or if we would rather use our money elsewhere. I am choosing not to support hatred.”


Others believed that although not inherently immoral to engage in the Harry Potter series, people should be aware of what that money is going toward and decide from there. 


“I don’t think everyone buying it is immoral or a bad person or something like that,” said Gene Santos, first-year history major. “I just think that it might be hard for the average person to grasp just how harmful buying the game is. Her essays opposing the existence of trans people have been cited by members of the U.S. Senate to block the Equality Act.” 


While people might not be necessarily transphobic for buying the game because they love the series for what it is, their money will end up supporting Rowlings’ viewpoints.


“I know I won’t be buying it but I’m not going to condemn anyone who does,” said Santos. “I’m sure most people buying the game aren’t doing so to support these things on purpose.”


Although living in the shadow of Rowling’s transphobia, Avalanche Software have seemingly attempted to show their opposing views within the game, including a transgender character, Sirona Ryan.


As the complicated situation unfolds, it falls to the individual to decide whether the game is worth their purchase. “Hogwarts Legacy” released on Feb. 10 for Playstation, Xbox, PC and Nintendo Switch.