Opinion | Should we play Hogwarts: Legacy?

By Livia LaMarca, Senior Staff Columnist

The question I wish to answer is whether or not to play the new Harry Potter game, Hogwarts: Legacy. For some people, this is an easy yes-no decision. But for many, the world of Harry Potter has become so much more than just a book series. It has taken on a life of its own. People want to play the game, but no longer want to give their money to a woman who spews hatred.

Many people want to play Hogwarts: Legacy because, obviously, it looks like a sick game. I mean, who doesn’t want to be a wizard? While I have never read the books, I have seen all of the movies and have visited Universal Studios a few times. I definitely was not into it as much as many of my friends were growing up, but I will admit I was a proud Slytherin for a few short years and would love the chance to play as one in the new game.

However, this was all before J.K. Rowling, the author of the series, had her controversies and before other problematic things about the books came to light. There are many reasons one may choose not to play the game and a lot of conflicting information.

For a long time, Harry Potter was viewed as inclusive and “woke” for its time, but this belief has quickly changed. It features few characters of color and a single gay man — Dumbledore. However, there was no indication he was gay in the books — Rowling only said so long after the books were published. I remember years ago when Rowling was regarded as a leader in human rights and a feminist that many women and young girls looked up to. However, in 2020, J.K.  Rowling quote-tweeted an op-ed and said “‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpud? Woomud?”

Despite receiving backlash from the tweet, Rowling doubled-down on her opinions and was officially solidified as a TERF — which stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist. Essentially, the word is used to describe people that call themselves feminists but are also transphobic. TERFs will not recognize a trans woman as a woman and a trans man as a man, which is overwhelmingly harmful to the trans community.

Since the creation of the Harry Potter series, Rowling’s version of goblins has portrayed antisemitic tropes that go far beyond the original mythology of the creatures. Goblins are typically written as greedy and cruel creatures, but Rowling takes this one step further and depicts them as hook-nosed, large-eared bankers who are viewed by the rest of the wizarding community with suspicion. This same sort of imagery is often used in antisemitic, Nazi propaganda.

In the Hogwarts: Legacy game, the plot features a Goblin Rebellion that the player has to stop. Many players are concerned about this aspect of the game because it “offers players the chance to battle [an] ‘oppressed race who are fighting against their own slavery.’” According to one Reddit user, you can choose to side with the Goblins, but you will also choose to become an evil wizard in the process.

There is a lot of discourse surrounding the question of who is making the profit. Many people say it is okay to buy the game in order to support the developers who created it, many of whom had no say in the client their employer took on. Others say no because at the end of the day, some of the money is still going to Rowling. While Rowling was not involved in the development of Hogwarts: Legacy, she will still make a profit both directly and indirectly from the game. She will receive royalties from the use of the Harry Potter intellectual property as well as through indirect promotion of the books. Many do not want to give her more money and therefore more power. She’s already admitted to donating to anti-LGBTQ political activity within the UK, and many do not want their money going to similar causes.

I will not sit here and tell you whether or not to buy the game, but I will tell you that I am choosing not to. Sure, I can’t run around pretending to be a wizard, but dealing with a little bit of sadness does not compare to the damage the game and JK Rowling cause other people. I refuse to spend my money promoting anti-transness and antisemitism in any capacity. When making the decision on whether or not to play the game, you need to weigh your values. Is this game important enough to you to disregard everything I just said? If you’re like me and still want to see the storyline and the mechanics, maybe find a Youtuber you like and watch them play it. Ultimately, it is up to the consumer to decide. 

Livia LaMarca mostly writes about American political discourse and pop culture. Write to her at [email protected].