Why are people boycotting ‘Hogwarts Legacy?’

Hogwarts Legacy box art
Image via Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment/Portkey Games/Avalance Software

Soon, people on the current generation of game consoles will get to explore the Hogwarts Legacy story when the role-playing adventure makes its debut. Its road to release has not been without controversy however, and, while some are excited, others are organizing in hopes the piece will fail. There are a variety of reasons for this, and we have broken them all down in detail below.

For those unaware or who have lived under a rock inside of a sealed nuclear shelter for the past few decades, the game is set in the same universe as the Harry Potter stories, but at an earlier time. The books entered public consciousness in 1997, written by author J.K. Rowling and in recent years she has come under scrutiny for a number of comments and actions seen as hostile to the trans community. She first made headlines for this in 2018 when she liked a tweet which referred to trans women as men in dresses and initially blamed this on a “middle-aged moment” of not using technology correctly. In the aftermath, an essay written by Rowling came out where she expresses concern about trans figures being predatory in bathrooms (something which experts say does not happen), and while some actors have defended her, she has continued to make what trans figures see as hostile comments.

This has become the primary reason why sites like The Mary Sue has urged people not to purchase the game. Rowling herself has dismissed the idea and says those uncomfortable with the game must also torch their past books and connections to films if they are truly repulsed by her. The game itself will have the option to make your character trans, and, aside from this topic, others have been uncomfortable with some of the developers and the plot points you will have to deal with should you explore the game story.

Again, for those unaware, during the course of the game’s development, it was reported designer Troy Leavitt used to run a YouTube channel which spoke critically of feminism and also published content like “In Praise of Cultural Appropriation.” Leavitt also spoke favorably of the “Gamergate” misogynistic movement and in the aftermath of this making headlines, he left the Avalanche Software team. He said the exit was not related to his past and Warner Bros. did decline to comment. Though this was but one person, the project he had a hand in has been accused of being anti-Semitic as well.

Warning, spoilers for the plot follow, so, if you are planning to get the game, turn away now.

In the game, part of the player’s journey will include suppressing a goblin rebellion. In the stories with Harry Potter, the hook-nosed creatures with long fingers and sinister visages are described as good with money and run the magical Gringotts Wizarding Bank. In Rowling’s expanded writing, some of the reasons for their revolts have included lack of representation, being banned from using wands, attempts to enslave the species by wizards and being the targets of a serial goblin murderer. This — in combination with historical bigoted tropes — has made several uncomfortable, though some think there will be a twist to make the villains heroes.

Audiences and sales charts will see just what the game does when it releases Feb. 10.