J.K. Rowling’s unrepentant anti-trans perspective won’t extend to Hogwart’s Legacy, which will embrace trans-inclusive character creation, according to reporting from Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier. The upcoming Avalanche Software/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment game, which is due in 2022, experienced some friction during development following Rowling’s anti-trans comments that were condemned by actors (including Eddie Redmayne, Daniel Radcliffe, and more) who’ve starred in franchises based upon her books. Rowling has refused to backtrack upon her remarks and even included an anti-trans plotline in Troubled Blood, the latest book written under her male pseudonym, Robert Galbraith, but it seems that Hogwart’s Legacy game developers banded together to distance themselves from Rowling’s incendiary remarks.
The Bloomberg report details how the game will have trans-inclusive character creation available to players, who can separate their body, voice, and gender options (including school dormitory placement) while customizing their experience. Jason Schreier wrote on Twitter that the development team pushed for this inclusive move after growing “uncomfortable with Rowling’s position and rattled by the effects she has had on a game they’ve put a lot into.” Here’s what the Bloomberg article detailed for the game’s plan:
When players start up the game, they will be able to create a character that has a masculine or feminine voice no matter what their body looks like, according to people familiar with the game’s development. The people requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak to the press.
Players will then get to select one of two options — “witch” or “wizard” — that will determine the dorm they get placed in at the magical school of Hogwarts and how they are addressed by other characters in the game.
Although this game won’t arrive until sometime in 2022, this report is notable, given that J.K. Rowling is known to exert an unusually high level of creative control on movies that are based upon her works. In contrast (regarding Hogwart’s Legacy), a Warner Bros. statement (from September 2020) clarified that “J.K. Rowling is not directly involved in the creation of the game, however, her extraordinary body of writing is the foundation of all projects in the Wizarding World.” Bloomberg further reports that (according to its sources) “[t]here was resistance from management at first” on embracing trans-inclusive character creation, and the publication also writes that a Warner Bros. representative declined to provide a comment for the story.
Rowling’s remarks haven’t been the only obstacle facing the game’s continued development. As Bloomberg notes, one of Avalanches senior producers, Troy Leavitt, has made YouTube videos that express solidarity with the Gamergate community that’s synonymous with sexist views about progressivism in video-game culture. Levitt didn’t respond to Bloomberg’s request for comment, nor has Rowling publicly reacted to news of the trans-inclusive character creation options in the works for Hogwart’s Legacy.