Hogwarts Legacy: Is the art truly separate from the artist?


Image used with permission from Google Creative Commons

A scene from the new Hogwarts Legacy game. As a player you can attend classes as a student at Hogwarts.

The magical world of Harry Potter has yet again expanded into the muggle world. The release of Hogwarts Legacy has caught the attention of Harry Potter fans and gamers alike. However, the game has sparked controversy due to author J.K. Rowling’s transphobic views.

Hogwarts Legacy, which was initially released on Feb. 10, is an open world role-playing game set in the magical world of Harry Potter, specifically Hogwarts. The game was developed by Avalanche Software, and published by Warner Bros. Games under its Portkey games label. The game is available on multiple platforms, including PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox Series X and S, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows.

Players can experience being a student in Hogwarts during the 1800s. Players have the freedom to learn spells, fight beasts and freely explore areas around the wizarding world, such as Hogsmeade and the Forbidden Forests. Your overall goal within the game is to uncover an ancient mystery that threatens the magical world. Playing on fans’ nostalgia, the game allows players to pick their own appearance as if they were actually a student at Hogwarts. Your character goes through the classic sorting ceremony that happens to Harry and his classmates in the books. “I think it’s really nice that the game allows players to experience a lot of the fun that comes from the Harry Potter books, like the sorting ceremony,” senior Lauren Meyer said.

Despite its popularity, the game has garnered controversy due to Rowling’s transphobic views. In 2018, Rowling referred to trans women as “men in dresses,” and then later tweeted support for researcher Maya Forstater, who was fired for her anti-trans social media posts. In 2020, Rowling posted a series of tweets that argued against considering trans women as women. “It’s a shame that such an incredible universe was created by someone transphobic and all around close-minded. Knowing that J.K. Rowling will continue to profit from the license makes people reluctant to engage with any content relating to the Harry Potter series,” Meyer said.

Those against the game claim that playing it keeps Rowling and her transphobic comments relevant. Additionally, while Rowling was not involved in the creation of the game, she will still profit from the game’s license. “I do not think nostalgia justifies playing this game. J.K. Rowling has made her opinions very clear, and has said that the money she gets from Hogwarts Legacy will be donated to anti-trans charities,” senior Connor Lindauer said.

Others have chosen a route of “separating the art from the artist,” choosing to still play the game despite Rowling’s views due to their love for the series itself. “Separating the art from the artist is important when they are not being financially supported by their work and their harmful ideologies are not being perpetuated by that work. In the case of J.K. Rowling, she is still gaining tons of money from Harry Potter, which she uses to spread her dangerous ideologies,” Lindauer said.