Hogwarts Legacy, an immersive role-playing game (RPG), made its public debut recently. The game’s presale numbers hit over 500,000, with over 870,000 streamers on Steam within the weekend of its release (not including hidden Xbox and Playstation figures).
But there’s more to the story than meets the eye. The game is surrounded by controversy due to J. K. Rowling’s long history of transphobia.
Many fans of the franchise have spoken out about boycotting the game since royalties from sales would be provided to Rowling. However, fans in this group are a vocal minority. The game has a 93%, or “Very Good” rating on Steam and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
Rowling has maintained she is a supporter of transgender rights, despite numerous contradictory tweets and public statements. She has been labeled a Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist (TERF) and critics argue that Rowling does not cite the difference between sex and gender, a fundamental point in the argument for trans rights, and has opened a women’s-only domestic violence shelter in Edinborough, Scotland, which does not permit trans staff or provide care for trans women. This is an exception to the other 17 shelters of Rape Crisis Scotland, which provides care to both cisgender and transgender women.
Gamers and activists have come together in protest, petitioning for a week-long streaming strike and refusing to purchase Hogwarts Legacy. In support of the protests, gaming platform itch.io created the Trans Witches Are Witches Bundle, a compilation of 69 indie games, where the proceeds go directly to independent LGBTQ+ video game creators.
The themes in Harry Potter, including domestic abuse, moral conflict, and found families, mimic the real-life discrimination faced by trans individuals and the LGBTQ+ community, so don’t expect the controversy surronding Rowling to end anytime soon.