Should you play Hogwarts Legacy if you care about your trans friends?
We don’t have an exact release date for Hogwarts Legacy, but it’s expected sometime in 2022, while there’s been general buzz around a trailer and other important details that will be soon to be revealed. As a trans woman who grew up reading Harry Potter, writes about video games for a living, and frequently writes about gender in the media, I expect the Harry Potter game to completely exhaust me, and not only because it will probably have too many collectibles. Since I was asked about Hogwarts Legacy by my actual friends who exist outside of our gaming discourse sphere, I thought it best to organize my thoughts on the subject and offer a resource to those who may have similar questions.
Some people will have read the title and just said “yes” or “who cares?”, probably followed by hilarious and not recycled jokes and insults at all. Attack helicopters, genius! Anyway, this article is not really for them. Some people just won’t care and, hey, there’s a literal war going on right now. It’s not the most important thing in the world. But there are people concerned about it – I know, I’ve met them – and since my feelings around the game, and Harry Potter in general, have crystallized, the more JK Rowling has committed to it, it’s worth worth discussing.
One final note on the very real war going on right now – I find it incredulously strange that right-wing commentators who have made a living over the past five years targeting gay, trans and minorities are now accusing us of ignore “the real issues”. No one forced you to write column after column after column about trans people. You were free to write about our inability to wean ourselves off Russian natural gas. You chose to write about us. We were just having a bake sale.
This is an important note because trans people don’t want to be the story. We don’t want to be important. We just want to go to the toilet. It shouldn’t really matter if you play the Harry Potter game or not, but trans people are so constantly bombarded with metaphorical rotten fruit in the form of legislation, hate crimes and endless columns that any show of solidarity is doomed. increased importance. To answer the question in the title, “should you play Hogwarts Legacy if you care about your trans friends?”, the answer is a very vague “it depends”. I do not know you. I don’t know your friends. I don’t know your situation. But if you care enough to ask the question, the answer is probably no.
At first glance, the simple act of playing a video game does not cause any harm. A trans person doesn’t get kicked in the face for every copy sold. If you buy it, play it, and go about your life, you’re not really hurting anyone. And hey, WB Games has repeatedly distanced itself from JK Rowling by insisting that she’s not involved in the game, although she’s also said she’s entitled to her opinions, which looks like a weak refutation of said opinions. She still owns Harry Potter as intellectual property – she hasn’t sold. While it may be indirect, supporting Hogwarts Legacy is supporting JK Rowling. Money is insignificant – she is already very rich. But as long as Harry Potter succeeds, it remains current and relevant, and its platform grows.
JK Rowling particularly matters because she is the acceptable face of transphobia. A few of her famous pals have declared for her in this absurd culture war, but none have come out with half the degree of misleading and transphobic speech as she did. A lot of middle-class media columnists seem to agree with her, and they have a big platform themselves, but there are few other major cultural figures waiting in the wings to replace Rowling in as chief transphobe. It is essential to movement.
For a moment, it seemed like she was left out of her own legacy. She was not present for the Harry Potter reunion, and again the developers purposely and explicitly distanced themselves from her. However, the latest Fantastic Beasts trailer comes by its name, floating across the screen in huge letters. It’s easy to convince yourself that she’s an outcast, that she’s now separated from the world she created, but that’s not the case. It seems to be going in that direction, but as long as you all support Harry Potter, no matter how hateful and deliberately malicious JK Rowling’s statements become, you’re saying trans people just don’t matter as much as trans people. fictional wizards. A boycott got rid of Papa John after his repeated racial slurs, but Papa John’s as a business still exists. There doesn’t appear to have been any serious attempt to pull JK Rowling out of the Harry Potter idea, lest that mean missing out on the next installment in a series that ended its heyday a decade ago.
If you say you’re playing it to support the devs, sorry mate but that’s rubbish. Unless you’re buying all video games because you want to pump money into one of the biggest industries on the planet, you’re not supporting developers. You specifically choose to support these developers, not because you sat down and had a nice chat with them, but because you want to play this game specifically. Support has nothing to do with it.
There’s nothing wrong with just wanting to play the game because you want to. The media are powerful. Harry Potter was a definitive series of novels for a generation, and while the films didn’t quite have that power, they made a lasting impression on those who saw them as children. Fantastic Beasts spawned a string of blockbuster movies from what was essentially a coffee table bottom filler book. If Harry Potter, and by extension Hogwarts Legacy, means so much to you that no matter how conflicted you are, you just can’t sit still, you can’t bear to be without a game you know very well. little and which you have not played. one second of, just say that. Don’t insult us by lying that this is to support an anonymous group of developers you haven’t met. If you’re supporting them specifically because they’re working on Harry Potter, then you’re not supporting them. You do what is called “buying a video game”.
Don’t insult us and don’t get defensive either. People who tell me they’re buying seven copies because I’ll never have a womb are incredibly strange individuals, but they don’t bother me. It’s the people who are usually very nice and normal who view criticism of Harry Potter’s continued success as bullying them personally. Like they’re being discriminated against for being a Harry Potter fan, often followed by long, plodding rants about why Harry Potter means so much to them and horrible trannies will break into their homes and steal their Lego sets. JK Rowling represents the wave of aggression and hatred that erodes us every day. We don’t like it. We are angry. If you can’t help, play quietly with your toys and stay out of our way.
Wanting to play Hogwarts Legacy, even buying it at launch and enjoying it, doesn’t make you a transphobe. But it asks you to forget JK Rowling’s obvious bigotry and continue to fund her platform and provide her with continued cultural relevance in exchange for playing a video game. It doesn’t make you a bad person if you make this choice, just make sure you do it consciously.
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