What is Hogwarts Legacy and why are some Harry Potter fans boycotting the game?

Hogwarts Legacy is one of the biggest games of the year. Credit: Warner Bros

By Multimedia Producer Lottie Kilraine

Hogwarts Legacy, the latest edition to the Harry Potter universe and one of the biggest video game releases of the year launched on Friday.

The game, set around 100 years before the events of the books, has already received rave reviews as fans prepare for its release more than 25 years after author JK Rowling's first book was published.

But the game has been the focus of controversy - and some fans are even urging gamers to boycott it altogether.

What is Hogwarts Legacy?

Hogwarts Legacy is an open-world game set in the magical school of Hogwarts in the 1890s.

Players take control of a fifth-year Hogwarts student to explore the magical school as they attend classes, fight monsters, fly on broomsticks and cast spells.

As the game takes place a hundred years before the events of the Harry Potter books, you won’t be running into any of your favourite characters.

But the game does feature well-known locations including the Forbidden Forest, Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, as well as the iconic Hogwarts Castle itself.

A cast of voice actors includes Hot Fuzz star Simon Pegg, Downton Abbey's Lesley Nicol and Luke Youngblood, who played Lee Jordan in the Harry Potter films.

When is the game released?

The Game came out on PS5, Xbox Series X and PC on Friday 10 February, 2023.

Those who pre-ordered the game’s physical Collector’s Edition or Digital Deluxe Edition on console or PC had access to it on Tuesday.

The game won’t be available on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One until April 4, 2023.

It’s not coming to Nintendo Switch until July 25, 2023.

Why are some people boycotting it?

Some fans have urged gamers to boycott Hogwarts Legacy as a protest against the author JK Rowling.

Rowling, who wrote the Harry Potter books which inspired the films and the new game, has been criticised by some groups for her views on gender identity and trans rights.

Author JK Rowling has previously divided views with her comments on transgender rights. Credit: PA Images

What are JK Rowling's views and why are they controversial?

The author of the Harry Potter novels, originally published between 1997 and 2007, has in recent years become a divisive figure for many groups due to her views on gender identity and trans rights.

In 2019, Rowling voiced her support for a researcher who was sacked after tweeting that transgender people cannot change their biological sex.

In June 2020 she took issue with a headline on an online article discussing "people who menstruate" by tweeting: "I’m sure there used to be a word for those people."

This led some Twitter users to point out that many people who identify as women - such as transgender women and women who have gone through the menopause - may not get their periods, while some people who do not identify as female may still menstruate, such as transgender men.

More recently, Rowling spoke out against the Scottish government's plans to make it easier for people to legally change their gender in Scotland.

She called the proposal "the single biggest assault on the rights of Scottish women and girls in my lifetime".

Rowling has strongly denied accusations of transphobia.

The author with the stars of the Harry Potter films at the first premiere in 2001. Credit: PA

How have the creators and stars of Hogwarts Legacy reacted to the criticism?

Warner Bros has said Rowling was not directly involved in the creation of the game, although they "collaborated closely" with her team.

Hogwarts Legacy does feature a trans character, Hogsmeade pub owner Sirona Ryan - which is a first for the entire Potter franchise - voiced by actor Sebastian Croft.

Croft, who voices two characters in the game, has distanced himself from Rowling's views and took to Twitter last month to apologise to any fans who had been hurt by his involvement in the game.

He tweeted: "I was cast in this project over 3 years ago, back when all Harry Potter was to me, was the magical world I grew up with. This was long before I was aware of JK Rowling’s views.

"I believe whole heartedly that trans women are women and trans men are men."

He added: "There is no LGB without the T."

Croft is not the only actor to distance himself from the author and her comments.

Several of the film franchise's stars including Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry Potter, Emma Watson, who played Hermione Granger, and Rupert Grint, who played Ron Weasley, have all previously spoken out in support of trans rights.

(L-R) Daniel Radcliffe, JK Rowling, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint at the world premiere of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Credit: PA

Following Rowling's comments criticising the phrase "people who menstruate" in June 2020, Watson urged her followers to donate to the Mermaids charity, which helps transgender children.

She tweeted: “Trans people are who they say they are and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned or told they aren’t who they say they are.

“I want my trans followers to know that I and so many other people around the world see you, respect you and love you for who you are.”

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