No matter what the game developers do, the upcoming Wizarding World game will never escape the legacy of J.K. Rowling.
Defamed author J.K. Rowling trended earlier this week after the release of a trending article about the upcoming video game Hogwarts Legacy. Hogwarts Legacy is an upcoming video game that allows players to experience the wizarding world like never before. The open-world game takes place in the late 1800s, well before the time of Harry Potter, and follows a Hogwarts student in the midst of a yet-to-be-revealed adventure.
But why was the game recently trending? As Bloomberg reported, an insider familiar with publisher Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Inc. and developer Avalanche Software shared that players will have transgender options in the game’s character creation. Specifically, players can choose a character that has a masculine or feminine voice no matter what their body looks like.
But is this really something to celebrate? Yes, this one factor of the game is more inclusive, but it’s not exactly a visionary feat. The option is becoming more frequent in recent video games. For instance, the Sims 4 announced in 2018 that clothing would not be limited by gender.
The game then went further to allow gender fluidity options in gameplay. For instance, players could play with masculine or feminine features in the character creation, characters had the option of using the toilet standing or sitting, male characters could get pregnant, and more. This is a good example of dynamic gameplay.
Meanwhile, Cyberpunk 2077, which initially had a fantastic marketing campaign, underperformed. The game made too many promises, such as being trans-inclusive, and ultimately under-delivered. In terms of its trans content, the game allowed players to choose masculine or feminine voices no matter their character’s physical sex (much like Hogwarts Legacy).
But, the game ultimately had no real trans-inclusiveness beyond that. Romanceable characters would only date players if they had cis voices and bodies, the game’s characters and story viewed gender norms as if they lived in 2020 and not 2077, and the other two trans characters, Claire and Mateo, only had their trans identities quickly mentioned or alluded to, respectively.
This news story about Hogwarts Legacy's apparent character creation options doesn't go far enough for me to change my stance on the game. Lots of games without transphobes attatched already offer this. Not gender locking character options isn't enough to fix this. https://t.co/lHnV1H0l7q
— Laura Kate Dale – Mastodon "@LauraKBuzz@tech.lgbt" (@LaurakBuzz) March 2, 2021
There is a considerable fear is that Hogwarts Legacy will be more like Cyberpunk 2077 than The Sims 4. In addition, we have to acknowledge the J.K. Rowling problem. Last year, formerly beloved author J.K. Rowling received major controversy over her anti-transgender views. The author has rightly been called out as a TERF and has decided to champion the term.
When that happened, many former Wizarding World fans swore off the upcoming game. Warner Bros. and Avalanche then promised that Rowling has very little to do with the development of the game. But, the author will still receive some amount of money from game sales.
With this in mind, should we really be celebrating the addition of minor trans-inclusiveness?