why is hogwarts legacy so controversial explainer

Why Is 'Hogwarts Legacy' So Controversial? The Contentious 'Harry Potter' Video Game Explained

Five years ago, the release of an open-world video game in which the player enters the world of Harry Potter and roleplays their Hogwarts dreams would have been greeted with cheers from millions of Potterheads around the globe. On Friday, such a game will come out, but the feelings and reactions across social media are ones of dread, excitement, outrage or confusion.

It's rare that a game that is otherwise, by most accounts, pretty good generates as much controversy ahead of release as Hogwarts Legacy has, as the game has led to massive flame wars, calls for boycotts and harassment across social media.

So what's all the controversy and viral debate about regarding Hogwarts Legacy exactly? Here, we'll break down the various political culture wars Hogwarts Legacy finds itself at the center of, starting of course, with the woman who dreamt up the Harry Potter universe: J.K. Rowling.

I A note about Hogwarts Legacy from the /r/gaming team (self.gaming) submitted 4 hours ago by Auto Moderator - announcement Hey gang, You may have noticed that /r/gaming doesn't have discussion of Hogwarts Legacy, despite it being one of the most talked about games of the year. This is by design. After seeing how virtually every thread about the game in the run-up to launch swiftly devolved into a debate on the franchise creator's personal views which run contrary to Rule 9 of /r/gaming, the moderator team has come to the conclusion that we are unable to provide a platform for discussion of this game while remaining an inclusive community. Should you be interested in discussion of the game, /r/harrypottergame is a great spot for you.

The "TERF" Controversies of J.K. Rowling

When Hogwarts Legacy was first announced in September 2020, the question on top of many interested parties' minds was, "Will J.K. Rowling be involved with the game?" This was important because Rowling was deep in the multi-year process of obliterating the goodwill she had with many of her millennial, often left-leaning Harry Potter fans by repeatedly making contentious statements and getting labeled as a "Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist," or TERF.

From 2018 to 2020, Rowling on numerous occasions voiced controversial opinions about transgender people – some perceiving her statements as implying they were sexual predators – and capped it off with a blog post titled "TERF Wars" that erased any doubt from the minds of many about whether Rowling was not an ally to the trans community. Harry Potter actors Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson also distanced themselves from her at the time, and it soon felt like anyone who was trans or a trans ally was doing the same.

Noel is entering peak holiday spirit @notafootstool Replying to @jk_rowling I grew up as a trans child reading your books as an escape. I would often pick out names from characters to give to myself, before I ever felt comfortable in who I was. This decision, to support people that hate me, and want to do me harm. It brings me to tears... Why. Why? 8:09 AM · Dec 19, 2019 · Twitter for Android 417 Retweets 8.1K Likes Noel is entering peak holiday spirit @notafootstool 3h Replying to @notafootstool and @jk_rowling When I was little, my dream was to one day ask you how people like me would have been accomodated for in hogwarts.. I'm afraid that my dreams might have been crushed if I ever got that chance. 27 68 53 3.1K Noel is entering peak holiday spirit @notafootstool 1h I say this because of the trans youth out there, kids that might have the same questions I used to have. What would you say to them? 27 10 18 733

This proved to be unfortunate timing for Hogwarts Legacy developers Avalanche Studios, for while they were in the midst of bringing a Harry Potter video game to life, the series' author was arguably souring the Harry Potter brand for some of the game's intended audience.

The game even had to clarify that Rowling had no hand in creating it, but for many, this wasn't enough because Rowling would still see royalties from the game using her IP. Calls for boycotting Hogwarts Legacy began a full two years before the game was to be released.

Queer people o their way to buy Hogwarts legacy despite all of Rowling's bullshit because it looks actually good ONE COPY AND PLEASE DON'T TELL MY FRIENDS.

Lead Game Designer Troy Leavitt and GamerGate

Hogwarts Legacy's developmental period wasn't free of its own set of political controversies aside from Rowling. In early 2021, it was revealed that Troy Leavitt was hired as Legacy's lead game designer. Leavitt developed a reputation during GamerGate for supporting the movement and being anti-feminist, also reportedly supporting John Lasseter (a Pixar exec who was fired for sexual misconduct in 2017). With the game already in hot water on account of Rowling, Leavitt ended up resigning from the game's development shortly after his pro-GamerGate history was exposed.

The Goblin Rebellion Criticism / Racist Jewish Caricatures

In March 2022, another secondary controversy hit Hogwarts Legacy. One of the games' plot points involves a goblin uprising against the Wizarding World. The Harry Potter universe has long been widely criticized for purportedly using goblins as racist caricatures of Jews, and the reported plot of players quelling a goblin rebellion raised alarm bells for some potential gamers. For example, one potential fan quipped, "Hogwarts Legacy will have you fighting goblins who want civil rights."

Transgender Character / Sirona Ryan

Lastly, shortly before the game's release, it was revealed there would be a trans character in Hogwarts Legacy. Soom speculate this may have been an attempt at damage control on the part of Avalanche Games, but whatever the case may be, the news did little to quell the growing backlash — particularly because the character's name was "Sirona Ryan." This seemed to be in line with how Rowling named non-cis, non-white characters in the Harry Potter series, like giving the one Asian character the name "Cho Chang" and the one Irish character the name "Seamus Finnegan."

J.K. Rowling Naming Characters Memes

Although this meme trend actually predates Hogwarts Legacy, parodies of the perceived manner in which J.K. Rowling names characters from Harry Potter (particularly certain minority characters) began seeing a notable resurgence online leading up to the game's release date. Such memes referencing Hogwarts Legacy were sparked by the previously mentioned transgender character Sirona Ryan, though many parodied other stereotypes in reference to this.

BRUNOSTORM @seekingbroo Replying to @Game_Revolution JK Rowling giving names Australian Kangaroo Spidervenom Japanese = Sushi Temaki Mexican = Ricardo Guacamolez Islamic Allahu Akbar Brazilian = Rio Soccersamba Russian = Vladmir Vodka Homossexual = Sergay Lovecock Italian Alfredo Bolognese = 3:07 PM. Feb 6, 2023 192.5K Views manina dress tady secretboy sexina predatorè eve apple beardly womene phillia pedona they themmington sirona ryan can transgender be mexican?

Release Week: Boycotts and Harassment

Rowling's TERF tendencies only became more pronounced in the weeks leading up to Hogwarts Legacy's February 10th release date, putting some reviewers and potentially interested gamers in a difficult situation.

On February 6th, the first slew of reviews came out, and while many said the game was very good, reviewers were also forced to contend with the fact that the game they enjoyed lines the pockets of a person who some perceive as a controversial figure that belittles the trans community. As such, IGN placed an inset in its review detailing its thoughts on 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," they wrote. "We’re choosing to expose and address the views of the franchise creator separately from our consideration of the work of the hundreds of game developers and evaluate Hogwarts Legacy as it stands, leaving behind-the-scenes context to be considered in addition to that evaluation, rather than in place of it, so that it can be weighted according to your own values."


Calls for boycotting the game intensified over the week, even leading to harassment of those who chose to play the game or stream it. The Twitch channel Girlfriend Reviews was harassed to the point of tears during its pre-release stream of the game despite the couple noting they had received a free review copy and were donating proceeds from the stream to The Trevor Project.

At the time of writing, there are still three more days until Hogwarts Legacy comes out and there's no indication that the discourse will get less toxic when the game actually releases.

What is 'Have They Streamed that Wizard Game?'

Following the game's early preorder access on February 7th, many Twitch streamers began livestreaming Hogwarts Legacy leading up to release and were subsequently bombarded with targeted harassment. Around this time, Twitter user and web designer @iamsamgibbs created a website called Havetheystreamedthatwizardgame.com that was designed to show what streamers were actively playing the game. Using this tool, many streamers (such as Girlfriend Reviews) were then targeted with harassment by opponents of the game online.

Sam Gibbs @iamsamgibbs Introducing havetheystreamed thatwizardgame.com - find out if anyone you follow on twitch has streamed THAT new wizard game ALT Streamer have they streamed THAT wizard game? OR Login with Twitch to check if anyone you follow has played THAT wizard game Login with Twitch → 7:20 AM Feb 6, 2023 6.5M Views 655 Retweets 4,680 Quote Tweets 2,732 Likes Search →

Is J.K. Rowling Involved in Hogwarts Legacy or Making Money From the Game?

According to reports, J.K. Rowling had no involvement with the development of the game, including characters, design and overall themes. However, she will reportedly receive royalties for its success as the original creator and owner of the IP.

This one sparks joy. H BVODM This one does not spark joy. Not buying Hogwarts Legacy because you disagree with JK Rowlings beliefs Calling other people transphobic for buying the game themselves

For more information, check out the Know Your Meme article on Hogwarts Legacy.

Top Comments


I like how people who think Rowling is some horrible trans genociding monster never post the quotes that display this. It's because if they did normies and other rational people would be like "What, that's it? That's what this has all been about?"

Her critiques of TRA ideology are pretty bog standard 2nd wave feminist takes but these people would have you believe she owns a private island where she hunts "the most valid game".


in reply to Mistress Fortune

>Rowling has made it clear she does follow the "you will never be a real woman" mindset

I've been told a thousand times, on this site even, that "nobody" actually thinks transwomen are literal, biological women and it's just about social perception. And yet TRAs get endlessly pissy if you ever say that you don't think transwomen are literal, biological women.

>For someone who has protrayed themselves as a "huge ally" throughout the years…her previous statements really bring this into question

Like I said, post quotes.

>she has a lot of money and fame it creates this worry that Rowling's viewpoints brought up in the first point could have a negative influence on the perception of trans folks

And yet people without money and fame get labeled genocidal monster just as easily. The volume of harassment she gets is greater only because more people know who she is and her fans feel feel jilted because they expected her to be in lockstep with them on every issue they care about. This is entitlement.

Also, I hate using the word "genocidal" because it feels like hyperbole but it's NOT. The people who hate Rowling really think any criticism of their ideology or worldview is an attempt to exterminate them. Shouldn't this give you some pause? Shouldn't this make you ask if the people leading this crusade might not be the most mentally stable? And why is the opinion of such obviously histrionic people given so much weight?


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