At the Playstation 5 Showcase that took place a few days ago, we got our first official look at the long-rumored Harry Potter RPG, called Hogwarts Legacy. It honestly had a great showing with everything from a big open-world, to a character creator and basically everything you know and love from the Wizarding World.
However, there was one thing looming over the game, and in turn my excitement for the game, namely JK Rowling.
If you haven’t been following recent controversies regarding JK Rowling, I will try to bring you up to speed. Recently Rowling held a campaign against Trans-rights and she’s been very open about her feeling regarding Trans-rights. She’s done everything from tweeting and talking about it, to following horrible people on Twitter – it’s easy to say that she’s very open about her feelings on the subject.
As recent as last week, however, she released her new book in which the plot revolves around a trans-serial-killer. There are some truly problematic things that she’s written about in the book and I urge you to read about it in detail because it’s horrible from beginning to end.
The actor who plays Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies, Robbie Coltrane, also went under fire after he defended Rowling, citing that the angry people on Twitter couldn’t have won the war. (Whatever that means)
The story of JK Rowling and her recent controversies is long, and there are proof and examples all over the internet throughout the years of her discrimination and hate towards trans-rights.
And this is where the game comes into place, if you didn’t know the game got leaked before its initial reveal. But the most interesting thing we knew about beforehand was that the developers at Avalanch Software didn’t feel comfortable with making the game because of JK Rowling’s ownership of the franchise. We knew this because of a report from Bloomberg that goes into detail regarding the game and the developer’s feelings about Rowling.
After the recent reveal, a UK-based Trans Kids Support Group called Mermaids issued a statement regarding the game. Before reading the quote, I will warn that it contains talk about topics such as self harm and suicide.
Today, J.K.Rowling re-stated her position on transgender lives. We have previously reached out to her both publicly and privately, offering a calm conversation around the issues she has raised and today, we sent a further email to her team, renewing that offer. We are yet to receive a response.
As part of that email, we have disclosed something we hoped never to say. We say it now with permission from those involved. Without giving personal detail, without betraying confidences, we must represent the seriousness of the situation. We are aware through our work with families that there have been cases of self-harm and even attempted suicide following J.K.Rowling’s statements and the public response on social media and in the press. Surely this must cause us all to pause and question the way young trans lives are being debated in public.
I urge you to read the entire post made by Mermaids, as it brings up important subjects regarding the topic. This once again brought forth the conversation about the game, if it’s morally right to purchase the game and similar Harry Potter products. The topic grew so big that Warner Bros themselves made a statement on the subject in their FAQ.
J.K. Rowling is not directly involved in the creation of the game, however, her extraordinary body of writing is the foundation of all projects in the Wizarding World.
This is not a new story from J.K. Rowling.
The problem with this statement is the fact that it doesn’t talk about royalties or residuals. While it seems like JK Rowling’s involvement with the game is minimal at most, and NBCUniversal holds the right to Harry Potter, she is still *seemingly* making money from everything Harry Potter related whether if its the movies, theatre shows, books, or games.
This means that in any way you spin it, somehow you’ll most likely give money to someone in power that has a bad view on social issues. As per the statement from Mermaids, children get affected by her statements to the point of committing self-harm or even go as far as to try to commit suicide. The other side of the coin is the fact that the coming generation(s) might be affected by her views, and adopt them which in turn brings forth a new generation of discrimination, oppression, bullying, and hate.
A similar problem that recently took place was at Ubisoft. Multiple titles from Ubisoft have been helmed by horrible people, we’ve gotten to hear countless stories about rape, sexual misconduct and bad HR. Ubisoft have (kind of) taken care of the situation, having fired and reconstructed the company and whose in charge of things. If they hadn’t, you would face a problem.
Either you buy the game, and thus supporting these horrible people. Or you don’t buy the game, and potentially the only people to face consequences are the employees, not the root of the problem – which is the people at the helm of Ubisoft. They would most likely get away with their bonuses anyway, free to continue being horrible human beings.
This is a problem, obviously. I’m not a huge Harry Potter fan and I’ve never been, but I do enjoy the world. I also like the team at Avalanche Software and I think that the fact that they’re concerned and don’t want anything to do with JK Rowling, shows me that they’re worth supporting.
But I don’t feel safe in buying their game when JK Rowling still gets royalties from it.
What could they do for me to feel safe in buying the game?
Well. It’s a tricky question, there are three different points that each on their own would make me consider purchasing the game, however, I’d love to see all three of them but most likely never will.
The first one being, that the game should have a major character be Trans. I don’t mean a small side character, I mean a major character / or even the main character. This should be the case even without this controversy, as we need more Trans characters in all forms of media.
The second thing would be that Warner Bros releases a statement saying that JK Rowling doesn’t earn any money, in other words, that she doesn’t get any royalties from the game.
The third point is that I want to see JK Rowling own up to it, realize that she has a bad view regarding the topic, and finally that she donates money to one of many Trans Support Groups (Like Mermaid) – it’s worth bringing up the fact that Rowling donates a lot of money to different groups in need, which is great. But I won’t be satisfied until she uses her fortune to also fight for Trans lives.
As I said, I don’t believe these three points will happen for various reasons. This has put me in a difficult place, as I want to play the game and support the developers, but I don’t want to support a universe built on foundations against Trans-Rights.
This is why I’ve decided that I won’t be playing Hogwarts Legacy, even though I would love to. The game doesn’t release until 2021 at earliest, but if Warner Bros doesn’t release a real statement regarding the game and JK Rowling before launch, I can’t justify buying the game.
If you’re in the same boat as me, I urge you to donate money to one of the following support organizations.
Black Trans People: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/n7wnbb/tony-mcdade-nina-pop-how-to-help