Breaking Down the Controversy Surrounding Hogwarts Legacy and Rowling

The open-world action role-playing game (RPG), Hogwarts Legacy, released earlier this month amidst an equal share of excitement and controversy.

Ever since J.K. Rowling’s Twitter comments started a culture war in 2020, Harry Potter fans have been torn about their love for the franchise.

Rowling was labelled “transphobic” for her perceived stance on transgender rights, and this has led to many people denouncing not just the Harry Potter books, but any piece of work that has associations with her, like the movies, amusement parks, merchandise, and video games.  

Breaking Down the Controversy Surrounding Hogwarts Legacy & Rowling
J.K. Rowling

Although J.K. Rowling was not directly involved in the creation of Hogwarts Legacy, the controversy surrounding her views on transgender people has infringed upon the game as well. The game is also being criticized for promoting antisemitism. Despite this, Hogwarts Legacy is topping charts.

The Call for the Boycott of Hogwarts Legacy

Breaking Down the Controversy Surrounding Hogwarts Legacy & Rowling
Hogwarts Legacy

People called for the boycott of Hogwarts Legacy, so Rowling doesn’t profit monetarily from the game. They also do not wish to validate the game or show inadvertent support for Rowling and her views – whether against transgender rights or against Jewish people.

Opposition to Rowling’s Perceived Transphobia

Several gamers boycotted the game to support the trans community and make a statement to raise awareness on trans rights. They believe that playing Hogwarts Legacy would benefit Rowling since the Wizarding World is part of her intellectual property (IP).

For many belonging to the LGBTQA+ community, J.K. Rowling became the real-life “(S)he Who Must Not Be Named” after she spoke out about her beliefs on trans activism.

Many from the trans community think Rowling is a TERF – a trans-exclusionary radical feminist, whose stands for feminism but does not include a trans woman’s gender identity.

Her repeated comments on Twitter, along with her essay listing “five reasons for being worried about the new trans activism,” called for even the most avid of Potterheads to relinquish the series.

Opposition to the Wizarding World’s Perceived Antisemitism

Hogwarts Legacy is based in Rowling larger Wizarding World but is a completely new story which has little to do with Rowling.

The game is set in the late 1800s, where players control characters who are fifth-year students at Hogwarts and have to uncover a dangerous secret amid a brewing goblin rebellion.

Those familiar with the series will remember a similar criticism of antisemitism being shared when the books came out: the goblin lore in Harry Potter was thought to be colored with antisemitic tropes.

Breaking Down the Controversy Surrounding Hogwarts Legacy & Rowling
Goblins at Gringotts (Harry Potter series)

Goblins, like house-elves, are a minority “race” in the Wizarding World who have been marginalized and oppressed by the wizards – the “dominant race.” The goblins were considered evil or the enemy simply for rebelling against their oppressors and fighting for their freedom.

Hogwarts Legacy heavily focuses on the goblin rebellion, and this is also one of the reasons people have called to boycott the game.

J.K. Rowling on Hogwarts Legacy

Several Youtubers took to Twitter to show their disdain about fans purchasing Hogwarts Legacy. Jessie Earl aka Jessie Gender tweeted in December that she wouldn’t blame anyone for already owning Rowling’s past works – books or movies – but purchasing Hogwarts Legacy is harmful for the trans community.

It drew replies from fellow influencers, stating that anyone supporting or promoting the game was contributing to Rowling’s sales and were inadvertently opposing trans people.

Rowling replied saying, “The truly righteous wouldn’t just burn their books and movies but the local library, anything with an owl on it and their own pet dogs.”

While Rowling hasn’t mentioned anything directly about Hogwarts Legacy, it’s apparent that she thinks boycotting or protesting the game is ridiculous.

Meanwhile, hundreds of gamers and streamers called for an instant ban of the game on Twitch.

In the trailer for an upcoming podcast, The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling, the author says how hurt she is about people on social media accusing her for “destroying her legacy.” In Hogwarts Legacy, the theme of the game is, “Your legacy is what you make of it.”

There has been no evident connection made between Rowling’s statement and the game’s tagline.

Hogwarts Legacy Tops Charts Despite Backlash

1. Art Vs. Artist

Most fans have been able to separate the “art” from the “artist,” the creation from the creator. Rowling may have written the original Harry Potter series, but she is not the series herself.

This reasoning is being supported by several fans of the books, movies, plays, and games.

Some people who do not support the series and its subsequent adaptations anymore feel that anyone who buys Hogwarts Legacy is doing it to spite the boycott movement. Fans who pre-ordered Hogwarts Legacy were called “transphobes” by Youtubers and social media influencers who’ve been vocal with their anger against Rowling.

But Hogwarts Legacy gamers responded that their support of the game was not a political statement and had nothing to do with Rowling or her beliefs at all.

2. Reparations – New Trans Character 

The storm against the author and her views on trans people grew stronger with the release of the game. Hogwarts Legacy introduced the series’ first transgender character: Sirona Ryan, the barkeeper of the Three Broomsticks pub in Hogsmeade.

Breaking Down the Controversy Surrounding Hogwarts Legacy & Rowling
Sirona Ryan

Sirona Ryan’s character has been criticized for being a symbol of token inclusivism, but, at the same time, Rowling-supporters think that this move is a good step towards easing tensions.

3. Ranrok is the Villain – Not All Goblins

Additionally, the portrayal of goblins in the Wizarding World has been defended by multiple people, including the Anglo-Jewish Campaign Against Antisemitism. According to them, the goblins in the Harry Potter universe and consequently in Hogwarts Legacy, is based on the goblins in Western literature, and not as a symbol of Jewish people.

Breaking Down the Controversy Surrounding Hogwarts Legacy & Rowling
Ranrok the goblin

Further, the goblin rebellion in Hogwarts Legacy focuses on a particular goblin and not on the entire goblin community. This erases any possibility of the game displaying any antisemitic tropes.

4. Nostalgia and Magic

Hogwarts Legacy has reached the second-highest player peak for any paid single-player game after PUBG. Forbes observed that Hogwarts Legacy also marks the eighth-largest peak on Steam of all-time.

The game is being played and streamed across multiple platforms, hitting record-breaking numbers. Millions of players have been enjoying the game’s immersive open world.

Breaking Down the Controversy Surrounding Hogwarts Legacy & Rowling
Snape’s patronus

In debates across Twitter and Reddit, these players assertively state that purchasing Hogwarts Legacy is not synonymous with being anti-trans.

Harry Potter is hugely nostalgic for the majority of the millennials buying the game. The reason they are enjoying the game seems entirely based on bringing alive the magic they experienced as kids.

About Hogwarts Legacy

Hogwarts Legacy is an open-world RPG from Avalanche Studio. The game places the player in the wizarding school of Hogwarts, allowing them to witness the iconic locations as a character other than Harry Potter. 

The game has an expansive map that makes the game very immersive, even for people who are yet to read the books or watched the movie.

The mysterious, gripping storyline, with the vast areas to explored, either on foot or broomstick, makes it even more real life.

Epic Dope Staff

Epic Dope Staff

Our talented team of Freelance writers - Always on the lookout - pour their energies into a wide range of topics bringing to our audience what they crave - fun up-to-date news, reviews, fan theories and much much more.


Leave a Reply