ENTERTAINMENT

New Harry Potter Game To Include A “Trans-Inclusive” Character Creator

But, is that enough to justify supporting someone transphobic?

Hogwarts Legacy, an epic open-world video game set in the Harry Potter universe, will reportedly include a “trans-inclusive” character creator. While this isn’t a groundbreaking new feature in games, for a video game based on an intellectual property by a known transphobe, it’s a pretty Big Deal.

WATCH: Hogwarts Legacy | Official Reveal Trailer

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According to Bloomberg, the game, which lets fans play out their HP role-play fantasies as a student at Hogwarts, will allow players to customise their character’s voice, body type and gender placement within the school’s dormitories. This means that when players boot up the game, they’ll be able to create a character that has a masculine-presenting or feminine-presenting voice regardless of what their body looks like. From there, they’ll be able to select one of two options—”witch” or “wizard”—which will determine which dorm they get placed in at Hogwarts. 

That decision is an important step in the right direction for better transgender representation and significant given the franchise’s creator JK Rowling’s views. While the Harry Potter franchise shares a special place in all of our nostalgic hearts, the franchise’s creator JK Rowling has made several controversial transphobic statements and decisions against the safety and well-being of the trans community—including being a big old TERF 🙄. 

For many, that’s made engaging with and celebrating the Harry Potter series difficult. In response, Harry Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint have all publicly denounced Rowling’s views. But the same has yet to be said about Hogwarts Legacy. In September 2020, the game’s publisher Warner Bros. Games published a FAQ and refused to publicly denounce her transphobia. Instead, they stated that Rowling is not “directly involved” but that her writing is the “foundation” of the project. 

Hogwarts Legacy
In Hogwarts Legacy, you play as an aspiring magical student in Hogwarts in the 1800s. (Credit: Warner Bros. Games)

It’s also worth noting that this approach to character creation in games isn’t new. Games with roleplaying elements and a player-created character have been trans-inclusive and shied away from binary understandings of gender for a while now—and when they don’t they are aptly called out for it. So, when Warner Bros. Games has yet to publicly denounce JK Rowling’s views, you have to ask yourself, “is this enough for me to justify supporting a known transphobe?” Whether Rowling is “directly involved” in the game’s development or not, she will profit from this one way or another. And for many, that’s an uncomfortable fact

“This news story about Hogwarts Legacy’s apparent character creation options doesn’t go far enough for me to change my stance on the game,” British and trans journalist and Twitch streamer Laura Kate Dale tweeted. “Lots of games without transphobes attached already offer this.”

“Not gender locking character options isn’t enough to fix this. It’s still supporting Rowling’s properties. Come back and talk to me when Warner Bros Games have publicly stood against Rowling’s views. Come back to me when you’re talking about canon trans characters, who are heroes, and will spend the game explaining to the player why Rowling’s views are hurtful.”

Last month, journalist Liam Robertson revealed that the lead designer of Hogwarts Legacy, Troy Leavitt, is a far right YouTuber with a backlog of videos about anti-feminism, GamerGate and one video titled “In Praise of Cultural Appropriation.” Idk about you but… yikes 💀💀💀

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