You’re Not a Bad Person if You Choose to Play Hogwarts Legacy

And don't let anyone tell you differently.

by Noah Nelson

Passionate debate has been taking place on Twitter and other social discourse sites about whether people should play Hogwarts Legacy. Those opposed to J. K. Rowling, and by extension all things Harry Potter, believe that buying and playing Hogwarts Legacy is supporting J. K. Rowling’s transphobic beliefs. On the other hand, those in defense of Hogwarts Legacy believe in the power of escapism and community, despite the author’s views.

The problem with the Hogwarts Legacy debate is that opposing viewpoints aren’t content with their opposition making the decision for themselves. One scroll through #HogwartsLegacy on Twitter and you’ll find Hogwarts Legacy defenders posting mocking and spiteful memes of them pre-ordering the game against Hogwarts Legacy opposers tweeting, “If you support Hogwarts Legacy, you’re transphobic and racist.” In truth, both sides harbor their fair share of labeling and mischaracterizing.

Antagonizing others into doing or believing a certain way only leads to pain, shame, guilt, and hurt, which are emotions nobody wants to be forced into. Because people have the right to support and voice their support for Hogwarts Legacy and people have the right to be opposed and voice their opposition to Hogwarts Legacy, you aren’t a bad person for your beliefs on this particular issue. Since the world will always be in a limbo state of disagreement on almost every topic, we need understanding. To do that with Hogwarts Legacy, we need to check the way we are voicing our opinion and try to empathize with everyone’s unique, valid beliefs, respect everyone’s right to an opinion, and attempt to understand them, which, mind you, is all easier said than done, so sprinkle some grace in there as well.

In Defense of Hogwarts Legacy

Though Hogwarts Legacy will always be attached to J. K. Rowling because of her creation of Harry Potter and The Wizarding World, Avalanche Software has confirmed that J. K. Rowling has no involvement with the making of Hogwarts Legacy. While they respect her extraordinary writing and look to the Harry Potter books and movies to make Hogwarts Legacy true and authentic, Avalanche Software has tried its best to create a standalone Hogwarts experience detached from Harry Potter itself. They have even incorporated player diversity and expression in the Hogwarts Legacy character creator where you can make your character look however you like, choose a male or female voice, and choose to identify as a witch or a wizard regardless of how you look.

A refusal to support this game because of J. K. Rowling means you also aren’t supporting the 500+ employees at Avalanche Software that have worked tirelessly on Hogwarts Legacy for multiple years. Though it isn’t our obligation to financially support the developers of Hogwarts Legacy, without enough support, these individual developers’ ability to find work within Avalanche Software or elsewhere could be negatively impacted. Not to mention, the assignment of extremist adjectives like “racist,” “transphobic,” or “antisemitic” toward hundreds of individuals — many of which take issue with J. K. Rowling’s problematic views — is a gross mischaracterization that reduces the definition of these words. In boycotting Hogwarts Legacy, you are potentially hurting hundreds of talented individuals who aren’t involved with J. K. Rowling or her beliefs. You can be opposed to J. K. Rowling, but nobody at Avalanche Studios deserves a target on their back for pouring themselves into art and creating a game they should be proud to have made and you can be excited to play.

Speaking of J. K. Rowling, despite her anti-transgender comments and actions, many people have found acceptance, love, and freedom within the Wizarding World that she has created. Many of those same people still do today, while simultaneously removing the creator from the creation. People from every race, gender identity, and sexual orientation have fostered a community within the Wizarding World that welcomes all walks of life despite J. K. Rowling’s beliefs. They deserve to be excited to play a game that represents their Wizarding World community.

To those who are still torn between playing Hogwarts Legacy or not, it is more important than ever to be able to separate the art from the artist. You can still enjoy art for what it is while also denouncing the artist. This isn’t an easy thing to do; it requires grace. Since we are all imperfect human beings who are constantly learning and growing — some slower in areas than the pace we would like — and trying our best to navigate a world where contentious opinions will always exist, we need to learn how to offer grace to an artist we don’t 100% agree with while also being able to enjoy what they brought into the world. It’s easier said than done, but if you can separate the art from the artist, more power to you, and if you don’t think separating an artist from their art is possible, your beliefs are just as legitimate.

In Opposition to Hogwarts Legacy

The truth is that J. K. Rowling will make money off of Hogwarts Legacy. Regardless of her lack of involvement with the game itself, since J. K. Rowling will always own the rights to Harry Potter and the Wizarding World, she will make money from Hogwarts Legacy. The answer to how much she will make and to what organizations she donates remains controversial. Beyond donating to Doctors Without Borders and The Maggie’s Centres for Cancer Care, the various organizations Rowling has directly funded also include women’s support services that specifically exclude trans women, and this may be reason enough for you to not support Hogwarts Legacy.

Don’t let other people diminish your hurt. If, to you, the house elves in The Wizarding World promote slavery apologia and the goblins promote anti-semitism, then you are valid in your feelings. Though others might not draw the same conclusions you do, you can be offended by things that you feel represent hurt for you and others. Wherever you lie in the Hogwarts Legacy debate, or in any debate for that matter, voice your opinion as long as it doesn’t purposefully antagonize others.

Let’s Choose Empathy

We are all complicated people with multi-layered beliefs. Behind every belief is a network of complex reasons that are always legitimate. If you feel attacked for looking forward to Hogwarts Legacy, know that you aren’t a bad person. If you feel marginalized by Hogwarts Legacy supporters for being opposed to the game, know that you also aren’t a bad person.

Regardless of your stance on Hogwarts Legacy, what remains important is the ability to voice your opinion with respect. Make your point of view known to the world on the condition that it doesn’t aim to hurt those who disagree. Opinions are complex and we can’t always stop others from being offended by how we choose to share them, but that doesn’t give us a pass to say our opinions in a purposefully rude, hurtful, or shameful way.

Regardless of how someone has labeled you for choosing to play or protest Hogwarts Legacy, the truth is that no matter what your individual feelings and beliefs are toward the game, your opinions, thoughts, feelings, and beliefs are enough. Regardless of what anyone says on Twitter or anywhere else, you get to have and stay true to your opinion. And regardless of your opinion, you should never bully or shame or feel bullied or ashamed of what you choose to stand for.

If you don’t play Hogwarts Legacy because of the multi-layered beliefs you hold, then you’re justified in feeling that. If you do decide to play Hogwarts Legacy because of the multi-layered beliefs you hold, then you’re also validated. Let’s leave labels and mischaracterizations out of this. Let’s let people play or not play what they want without judgment. Let’s choose empathy.

- This article was updated on February 3rd, 2023