It felt like the internet was constantly reminding me of the existence of Hogwarts Legacy for the length of 2022, trying to sweep me up into the hype for the game. On Feb. 10, Portkey Games released the long anticipated Hogwarts Legacy to gamers and “Harry Potter” fans all across the world. Despite being such an influential intellectual property, The Wizarding World is no world I want a part of, especially not for $70.
As a child, I read the “Harry Potter” books, like many people in my generation did. I was engulfed into a world of magic and mystical creatures, kids getting up to no good and a deep and detailed lore that transported me into Hogwarts. In 2020, I had not thought about Harry Potter for years until JK Rowling tweeted transphobic comments.
I was then led through an eye-opening rabbit hole, and I soon realized how many harmful ideologies were also ingrained in the “Harry Potter'' series. From antisemitic depictions to proslavery rhetoric, the magic of “Harry Potter '' was officially drained from Hogwarts for me. No longer was I a kid, hazed by magic, awaiting my letter from Hogwarts. Now, I am a young adult who can see through the fiction to the material and its author for what they truly are: the “Harry Potter” universe is filled with problems and goes deeper than just J.K. Rowling’s tweets.
As I grew up with “Harry Potter,” I also grew up playing video games, and lots of them. I still am an avid gamer, with single role playing adventure games being my favorite. It happens that Hogwarts Legacy is just that, with strong marketing toward “Harry Potter” lovers who, like me, wanted more than anything to be a student of Hogwarts.
The game is already wildly successful, breaking all sorts of records, according to Forbes’ findings, so it sounds like a perfect game to pick up. Despite being a video game that's right up my alley, I will not be attending Hogwarts Academy anytime soon.
Although J.K. Rowling had no influence over the development of the game, there is no separating the artist from the artist in this situation. The franchise itself is riddled with problems, and the game is no different. With the association between J.K. Rowling and the continuation of a problematic fantasy world, I want absolutely nothing to do with the game.
One of my biggest qualms with the game is the main enemy — the bank-running goblins who have struck up a rebellion. Looking to uncover the powerful, ancient and hidden magic that sleeps beneath Hogwarts, the goblins are portrayed as greedy, money-loving bankers, like how they are portrayed in the books.
It is painfully obvious that the goblins are distasteful characters of Jewish people, and the game had a chance to leave the stereotype behind them. The books, as well as the game, distastefully portray the goblins as, what seems like, caricatures of jewish people. But no. The developers — or J.K. Rowling's team who worked with developers — pulled right from Rowling’s problematic books. It’s hard to tell who’s responsible for this decision, but I will always support the hardworking developers who were just doing their job.
With the rapid growth of the video game market, gaming news sites make money off reviewing and making walkthroughs for new games, especially successful ones such as Hogwarts Legacy. So what are news outlets doing about the game? Well, not much. But just like the developers, it's a tricky situation with reviewing new games because it's their job.
A lot of gaming sites have opted to run a review of the game with an accompanying disclaimer and statement about the controversy. Popular gaming site IGN stuck in a segment in their review concerning “the elephant in the room,” with J.K. Rowling.
“IGN has always and will continue to champion human rights causes and support people speaking with their wallets in whatever manner they choose,” wrote IGN reviewer Travis Northup.
The site addresses J.K. Rowling and her actions outside Harry Potter on Twitter, but it never addresses the ingrained problems that lie within the books and therefore the games. There is absolutely no separating the art from the artist. Still, people continue to play and review the game.
Despite its effort, I can argue that IGN’s little addition to the article about J.K. Rowling has done basically nothing. You can’t just give a little disclaimer about harmful cultural and political beliefs and expect it to balance out. Simply acknowledging the existence of something bad, but then continuing to support it, just furthers the problem. I can not speak on the behalf of Jewish or transgender communities, but what I do know is that I will not be playing Hogwarts Legacy. I don’t think it’s my job to judge people for playing this game, but I won’t lie when I say I was disappointed when I saw a lot of my favorite content creators playing or promoting it.
As an avid gamer and reader, there are plenty of other amazing games and books to look forward to. Ultimately it is anyone's choice to play or not to play this game, which honestly looks rather boring, but supporting a game that's not just associated with JK Rowling but uses her inappropriate story telling, as I see it, distasteful.