JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter novels and one of the world’s most visible transphobes, hasn’t had much to say about Hogwarts Legacy at any time during its production. The game, a sprawling, open-world genre multihyphenate, looks for all the world to be a Harry Potter fan’s dream come true. However, due to Rowling’s decision to publicly state her distaste for transgender women, there has been quite a lot of discussion within fan circles about the ethics of buying the game.
As spotted by Forbes, the discussion about whether to play, or even purchase the game kicked off again on social media over the weekend. Among the discussion, Twitter user Jessie Earl wrote a short thread dissecting what interacting with new and legacy Harry Potter media means for queer people in light of Rowling’s anti-trans stance. The thrust of this thread was that there is no requirement to do anything so dramatic as burn or throw away the books and films you already own. They were likely important to you long before Rowling decided to make her disappointing heel turn, and that can’t ever be taken away from you. However, we can’t really say the same about new Harry Potter media, which will likely support Rowling directly. This is the quandary facing fans at present, their desire to play a game they’ve waited for their whole lives butting up against a desire to do right by the trans people they love and care about.
Anyway, Rowling didn’t take kindly to the thread.
Deeply disappointed @jessiegender doesn’t realise purethink is incompatible with owning ANYTHING connected with me, in ANY form. The truly righteous wouldn’t just burn their books and movies but the local library, anything with an owl on it and their own pet dogs. #DoBetter 1/2 pic.twitter.com/LqANqab8Km
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) December 17, 2022
Rowling’s argument, complete with an accusation of “purethink”, doesn’t make a lot of sense when placed against Earl’s thread. As Forbes’ Paul Tassi points out in his piece, Rowling’s assertion that the game falls under the heading of “ANYTHING connected with me” doesn’t really hold water. Though the terms of Rowling’s earnings are not publicly available, it will quite obviously make her a bundle of cash if it ends up a hit (and it probably will). Rowling then goes on to say that “the truly righteous wouldn’t just burn their books and movies but the local library, anything with an owl on it and their own pet dogs,” which is a very weird and hyperbolic thing to say, considering Earl’s gentle advocacy for the exact opposite.
It’s also worth noting that Earl never actually tagged Rowling in their thread. I sincerely hope she isn’t out here name-searching herself in an effort to pick fights.
Since JK Rowling retweeted me with an honestly nonsensical argument; I’m gonna stay off the Musk app today cause she knows she’s sending harassment my way. I send you all love & this article with my thoughts on Rowling continued harm against trans people. https://t.co/MJ9yizkCcM https://t.co/7NfYMVr65i
— Jessie Earl (@jessiegender) December 17, 2022
Up to this point, Rowling has remained fairly quiet on the topic of Hogwarts Legacy. She does seem to have a bad habit of kicking off on Twitter in the days before or after WB Games drops a new trailer for the game, but she has rarely brought it up directly. Indeed, Hogwarts Legacy just released a new gameplay walkthrough on Friday last week, and here she is, kicking off, right on cue.
This is even hard for us, from a coverage standpoint! Many in games media still aren’t sure how to cover this game responsibly, if it can be at all, and the review window is now only a little over a month away. We’ve gotten death threats from anti-trans campaigners over pieces where we’ve called Rowling out before. Marketing still doesn’t quite know how to sell this game, when the full-court press should already be under way. The game’s developers and publisher tie themselves in knots to avoid even mentioning her name in connection to the IP.
And none of us is copping it as badly as trans people who’ve suggested human lives are perhaps more important than a video game.
It seems Rowling’s turn to the dark side has transformed a game based on her creation into a treacherous ethical quagmire for everyone around it but her.
Hogwarts Legacy launches on February 10, 2023 on PS5, Xbox Series X and PC. Whether or not you buy it is entirely up to you. As much as you may be looking forward to it, we would encourage you to think seriously about what message that purchase may send to your queer friends, in the closet and out.
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