Why Hogwarts Legacy will prevail
The Harry Potter game has benefitted from a media storm
Last week, the long-awaited action role-playing game Hogwarts Legacy was released worldwide for the PlayStation 5, Xbox X/S, and Windows. The game — which had made numerous “most anticipated” lists in 2022 — debuted to above-average reviews, record-breaking sales, and an entire news cycle of controversy due to fan outrage over the views of Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling, the Right-wing politics of the game’s former lead developer Troy Leavitt, and the belief that the game’s central plot line borrowed elements of the antisemitic “blood libel” myth used to justify past persecution of Jewish people.
I may have been too old when Harry Potter first came out to fully appreciate it, but when I observed a younger relative playing the Hogwarts Legacy game on his PS5, I took notice. As such things go, the game is a perfectly serviceable Western-style RPG. It looks quite good — obviously a great deal of attention was lavished on the campus of the Hogwarts School, as well as the Scottish Highlands that serve as its backdrop — and aside from the excessive walking, talking, and fetch-questing that plague all of the games in this genre, it plays quite well.
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However, many Potter fans seem unable to escape into this world of fantasy. Rowling’s transformation into a divisive figure over the trans issue has caused her critics to argue for the severing of the creator from her intellectual property, though doing so is easier said than done. Meanwhile, another lightning rod for criticism is Troy Leavitt, who served as designer on the game until gamers highlighted his YouTube channel, which had amassed 26,000 followers. On the channel, the developer rebukes the social justice movement, defended MeToo’d Pixar co-founder John Lasseter, and critiqued Anita Sarkeesian’s early-2010s “Tropes vs. Women” YouTube series. Although he has now left the project, Hogwarts Legacy appears to critics to be the result of “unclean hands”, tainted by the mere presence of someone whose Right-libertarian ideas were and to a certain extent still are endemic in the game development community (Leavitt has produced a video arguing why his personal views shouldn’t inhibit enjoyment of the game).
Finally, there’s the matter of the goblins. To the extent that goblins have been used as twisted, avaricious background characters in the Wizarding World works of Rowling, some have associated these fictional characters with long-standing antisemitic tropes. Hogwarts Legacy puts goblins squarely at the centre of the game’s plot, which is set in the “Goblin Rebellion” era of Wizarding World history.
In fact, the main storyline follows a goblin-led faction — tired of a life of subservience and subjugation — that abducts kids and plans to use the main character’s blood for some sort of ritual to destroy their enemies. Though fairly generic by role-playing game standards, with baddies wanting to do something nasty to the innocent, critics eager to lump fresh offences on Rowling and her universe have pointed out that this parallels, at least in broad strokes, the “blood libel” myth (some, like television presenter Jon Stewart, have recently repudiated prior claims that the goblins were antisemitic). It feels like a stretch.
Of course, none of this has stopped Hogwarts Legacy from significantly outpacing the better-reviewed Elden Ring’s first-week sales. It’s also the biggest Harry Potter game launch of all time. At least in some sense, the game must surely be giving many Potter fans what they want. As for those who continue to whinge about Rowling and the world she made, there is a simple solution, one I implemented after I saw Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and a handful of the first-generation Marvel and DC comic-book movies: read and watch something else. Instead, the best way to deal with it is to simply avoid giving them your time and money. Sadly, that seems like too much to ask.
The funny thing is that after playing this, the content of the game is very progressive I would say. Hogwarts in the 19th century is very ethnically diverse for a British school at the time, there is at least one trans character and I’ve encountered one openly gay character who is in fact married to someone of the same sex (would be curious to hear what JK Rowling’s views on gay marriage in the wizarding world are, but oh well…). But yes, because JK Rowling had one slight difference in opinion on the trans issue, this makes me a bigot. Lol.
I’ve found precisely the same thing, but of course, for progressives, once they decide that they want to find something offensive, they will micro-analyse and cherry pick details until they unearth some apparently “right wing” content, as demonstrated by this utterly unimaginative article.
Case in point: The Wired ‘review‘ of the game- I couldn’t believe it when I stumbled on this whilst seeking out game reviews. Anyone who thinks this ‘review’ is normal journalism come from another planet than the one I inhabit.
It’s the Streisand effect all over again.
I think this just shows that the “progressive” movement is very much overblown. Due to the amplifying nature of social media (and lazy journalism treating Twitting as a news source) a small but very noisy minority are able to give the impression they speak for a much larger cohort and have much more influence than they actually do. I know many youngsters and not one I’d describe as “woke” I’ve found those views much more prevalent among the older middle classes
As Edmund Burke noted:
“Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate chink, whilst thousands of great cattle, reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak, chew the cud and are silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field.”
It is and it isn’t. Unfortunately all our universities are pumping out ideologues who head into the managerial class and bully other people into compliance. An interesting test will come when times are not so good – in part due to their sabotage of our economies. I suspect people will be less inclined to put up with their bullying and bullshit in those circumstances. The new game’s popularity shows that most progressives aren’t true believers and will only virtue signal when others are watching.
Refreshing to see such strong sales of the game. You can create a controversial product, refuse to bend to the will of a hysterical minority, and still enjoy success. The will of the people still has power.
It’s a good game, I’m thoroughly enjoying it so far – although I haven’t reached the part where where you club trans wizards to death using a goblin as the club yet so I can’t give a full review
Hogwarts was based on the old Ampleforth prep school… Thats all I know as the books, and even more so the recordings bored me into rigidity when my then young daughters insisted on listening to them in the car.
Why is it that people who hate certain franchises have to comment everywhere stating how much they hate it? Many of us like it and this is the dream game we’ve been waiting for, let us enjoy it and get a life.
Because their life is that empty they have to constantly appeal for likes on message boards or social media, some do it by parroting causes such as “trans women are women” and others do it by being completely contrarian and opposing anything that’s popular of the opinion of the majority
Reminds me of someone commenting on the BBC Sports comment section in an article reporting on a one day international series stating how terrible ODI cricket is in response to almost every highly rated comment. Must be a miserable existence if that’s how they fill their time.
To be fair, Mr Turner (I’m assuming it’s a he) has simply stated that he finds the books boring. I haven’t read them so can’t comment on that, but he is certainly entitled to his opinion
T20 is rubbish though isn’t it
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