The PlayStation 5 showcase event aired on September 16th, displaying the consoles’ prices and upcoming games that will feature upon its release and in the following months. However, the announcement of Harry Potter based RPG Hogwarts Legacy that is set for an Xbox, PC, and PlayStation release has been met with a backlash surrounding comments made by the mind behind the series, J. K. Rowling.
In recent weeks, J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter franchise has been criticised for the decisions in her latest crime novel. And this is but the most recent incident; earlier in 2020 Rowling again caused controversy for transphobic tweets, and her pen name Robert Galbraith has come under fire for possible links to a 20th Century researcher of conversion therapy. The original Harry Potter novels have likewise come under criticism for their distinct lack of LGBT representation; with Rowling’s announcement of Dumbledore being gay in a later interview felt like an afterthought to many.
Fans around the world have criticised such decisions, and many have since “divorced the author from their books” as said one in a Huffington Post article. One fan, similarly disillusioned by the magic of Hogwarts auctioned off her Potter collection to raise money for transgender charity Mermaids.
Rowling’s decisions to include such insulting pieces in her work will cause more damage than she realises. Her position gives her the opportunity to do good and sway minds, give some love into a world that is sorely lacking at times, and yet words like hers can also cause severe damage.
However, in a recent movement to boycott the game it’s important to contemplate what might be the best course of action. Avalanche Software, the developers of Hogwarts Legacy, has been working on the title for years and it’s fair to say that this game has become the company’s and its employees’ livelihood. They had nothing to do with Rowling or her decisions, so should they also be the ones to suffer? It’s a difficult question for some to decide, especially if they still consider themselves fans of the franchise. But ultimately, even as Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment state that Rowling had little to no input in Hogwarts Legacy, she will still earn royalties due to the game being under her created brand.
Earlier this year I donated all of my Harry Potter merchandise including all books, films and assorted memorabilia as I no longer wish to support the franchise. The books were given away to a younger child who is still new to the world of Harry Potter and I hope that they one day love the franchise as much as I did when I was younger. And there are still people out there who wish to enjoy the franchise, whether to introduce their children or younger family members to the books or because they are still passionate about the stories and want to pass them along.
Other franchises have since divorced their creators from such creation, and once an author’s creation is out in the world it is arguably out of its creator’s hands. People will fall in love with it and interpret stories or characters in their own ways. For many LGBTQ folks, these headcanons have allowed them security and a way to enjoy the tales in their own ways.
I will not be picking up Hogwarts Legacy when it launches, instead, donating that money and doing more to be a better ally to members of the trans community. Call out transphobia, donate and fundraise for charities such as Mermaids UK, Stonewall or the Human Dignity Trust, and support trans authors.
You can find more about Mermaids UK work and donate here: