Harry Politics

February 10th 2022 By Aaron Wise 2 minute read

With one of the most anticipated games of 2023 being released today (Friday 10th February), comes a whirlwind of controversy.

The innocent wizarding world of Harry Potter has gone from page to screen to console, amassing millions of fans globally along the way since its inception 26 years ago. So why now, with the release of Hogwarts Legacy - predicted to be one of the biggest selling games of the year – is there such a strong movement to boycott it? 

Well, the boy who lived certainly hasn’t done anything wrong, neither have any of his classmates. In fact, it’s nothing to do with the video game at all, which has already received positive reviews from reputable gaming critics. It’s the creator, not of the game, but the Harry Potter franchise itself, JK Rowling. Her public comments on issues about transgender people since 2020 have caused a gaping rift in the fandom’s community, with many feeling uncomfortably torn on their allegiance to the fantasy world that has brought joy and escapism for millions of children and adults throughout four decades. 

In the build-up to the release, which has been a three-year project and includes gay and trans representation, there has been some fierce online debate about whether playing the game would be showing support to Rowling’s comments. This has led to many soon to be players of the game admitting they won’t be vocal about it, including both those who identify as trans and those who don’t. 

Furthermore, last month, Sebastian Croft, who voices one of the playable characters, announced he was sorry if he had hurt anyone’s feelings by being involved in the project and that he strongly supported the rights of trans people.

Despite the uproar and large support for a boycott, Hogwarts Legacy is guaranteed to be a commercial success, but is that a good thing? Should a player feel guilty for booting up the console to immerse in a world that has been a big part of their childhood or even adult life? Likewise, are fans who choose to boycott the game and miss out really making a difference? Probably not, as in a 2022 Tweet, Rowling openly suggested that her continued royalties from the franchise are a sign that her personal opinions don't alienate audiences.

All in all, the castle walls of Hogwarts and the wider wizarding world will always remain shrouded in controversy, no matter how inclusive its content remains and continues to be, which begs the question; can you truly separate art from the artist? 

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