If you make the choice to purchase Hogwarts Legacy, you will be the owner of a video game set in the Wizarding World; that is what will happen.
That’s the simple answer, which is to say it’s a true answer, but is only one part of the whole truth.
I’m not here to tell you whether you should or shouldn’t feel guilty about purchasing Hogwarts Legacy; you either will feel guilty, or you won’t, and no piece of journalism will ever truly change those feelings.
What I am here to tell you, however, is what effect your decision may have.
I’m sure we’re all aware by now that purchasing Hogwarts Legacy will directly line the pockets of J.K. Rowling, which is where the meat of the controversy seems to be coming from, thanks to her well-documented contributions to a heinous, distorted, and dangerous rhetoric surrounding trans people.
But this isn’t an impact I’m particularly interested in talking about, partly because Rowling’s already palpable financial independence means that, realistically, no amount of gained or lost money will affect her influence in social or, God help us, political spheres, but mostly because there are deeper, much more personal sides to the controversy that aren’t being talked about nearly as much as they should be.
As I hinted at moments ago, there are multiple reasons for the overall controversy coming out of Hogwarts Legacy. One of them has to do with the antisemitic criticisms surrounding the game’s actual content, part which involves battling against a rebellion of goblins; the goblins of the world of Harry Potter, along with the canon’s ethos regarding them, have long been accused of housing many antisemitic tropes, such as them running the world’s underground bank and boasting distinct stereotypical facial features, such as a hooked nose. The controversy, then, extends to the game itself rather than just the purchase of it.
Now, I am not a member of the Jewish community, and therefore I cannot understand nor articulate that experience and how that might inform what buying and playing this game would mean to the Jewish community. But, it’s important to point out how relatively absent this part of the controversy has been from the spotlight, and how the Jewish community deserves a voice in this discussion just as much as the trans community, and we should all be doing our part to listen to the Jewish people in our lives when it comes to that side of the discussion.
The trans community, meanwhile, is one that I, being a part of it, can understand and articulate. So, insofar as what buying and playing the game means to me and the community in that sense, here’s what that is.
Giving money to J.K. Rowling isn’t the greatest look, to put it lightly. You could point out how purchasing any piece of media will likely line the pockets of a woefully disagreeable person, or how any ethical consumption under capitalism is borderline impossible to come by anyway, and you’d be correct about that. You could also say, however, that we don’t know where that money might go; would it really be all that surprising if we found out that Rowling made donations to politicians or organizations with anti-trans views? More importantly, is that a possibility you’re willing to risk?
But that’s speculation; worthwhile speculation, perhaps, but speculation all the same.
What I can pretty much guarantee you, however, is a loss of trust between you and the trans people in your life. If you make the choice to purchase Hogwarts Legacy, the trans people in your life will see that, and the safety they may have once felt around you will likely be thrown into question. It doesn’t matter what justifications you make, it doesn’t matter what you might say to them afterwards; giving money to one of the trans community’s most vocal vilifiers (money that, again, for all we know, could very easily go towards people who have a direct hand in trying to make trans lives unbearably miserable) will almost certainly result in a stain on whatever allyship you claim to have. If your allyship to the trans community and your relationships with the trans people in your life mean nothing to you, then buying Hogwarts Legacy shouldn’t be a problem.
Again, I’m not here to say you should or should not feel guilty about buying Hogwarts Legacy; if you already feel guilty at the thought of buying it, that guilt is going to stay with you if you go through with it, no matter what anyone says. If you don’t feel guilty at the thought of buying it, then you’ll have nothing to worry about. And, frankly, neither case is anybody’s business but your own.
But ultimately, understand this; while you can decide whether or not to buy Hogwarts Legacy, you don’t get to decide how that impacts your allyship and relationship to the trans community.
Indeed, though it’s a far cry from how trans people from all walks of life have had to adapt to and come to terms with the position that society thrusted upon us, the burden is on you to accept whatever social consequences will come with your decision. As a consumer, and as a human being, it is your responsibility to understand the weight your decisions have, to be OK with your decisions and their impacts, and to decide how much you’re going to allow your decisions to define yourself and what you stand for.
In conclusion, if you buy Hogwarts Legacy, you will own a Harry Potter-themed video game, you will give money to J.K. Rowling, you will probably break some or all trust between you and the trans people in your life, and it is wholly, entirely up to you to decide if you’re okay with all of that.
For those of you that aren’t okay with it, I’ll leave you with this; if your allyship to the trans and Jewish communities are important to you, listen to the trans and Jewish people in your life. Listen to the perspectives of people that are involved in the possible collateral of such decisions, come to understand why they feel the way they do, and, though you’ll ultimately fail at this next part, try and put yourself in the shoes of someone in that position, and be grateful for all the emotional duress you were never, and never will be, subjected to.