JK Rowling makes controversial comments


Caleb Laxton, Reporter

Taking the gaming world by storm, Hogwarts Legacy, the latest installment into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, has been betrothed in quite a bit of controversy – specifically because of JK Rowling’s past. 

Released on Feb. 10, Hogwarts Legacy peaked at 879,308 concurrent players on Steam, the eighth highest in video gaming history, as well as the most viewed single player game in Twitch history that peaked at 1.27 million viewers. It is safe to say that the game has done extremely well despite garnering plentiful amounts of controversy and hate. 

In a tweet in a tweet that used the descriptor, “people who menstruate,” JK Rowling took issue with the fact they did not use women she then quoted tweeted, “People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?” After receiving immense backlash Rowling did not back down tweeting out “If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth,” “The idea that women like me, who’ve been empathetic to trans people for decades, feeling kinship because they’re vulnerable in the same way as women—i.e., to male violence—‘hate’ trans people because they think sex is real and has lived consequences—is a nonsense.” 

Her tweets made her to be seen as transphobic and despite some understanding her opinions it was still seen and is a transphobic opinion that for a lot of people “ruined” their love with her series. 

Now, why did these tweets from around three years ago resurface as of recent? JK Rowling is set to make royalties off of Hogwarts Legacy, with it taking place in her wizarding world. Despite having nothing to do with the creation process at all because of copyright Rowling will be paid for every copy of the game sold. 

On multiple platforms people called the support of the game “harmful” to the trans community. In response, allies and trans alike developed a website: havetheystreamedthatwizardgame.com. On the site, you could search any Twitch streamer and it would show if they had streamed the game, in order to cancel any and all people who streamed the game.

In the many attempts to cancel the game, their efforts had an inverse effect, in the two weeks where tensions over JK Rowling’s past actions were at their highest and attempts to cancel the game were in full swing the game sold 12 million copies pre release. Last year’s game of the year Elden Ring sold just 20 million copies in total.

 Hogwarts Legacy’s Game Director Alan Tew had this to say,  “I think for us there are challenges in every game we’ve worked on. This game has been no different. When we bumped into those challenges, we went back and refocused on the stuff that we really care about. We know our fans fell in love with the Wizarding World, and we believe they fell in love with it for the right reasons… We know that’s a diverse audience. For us, it’s making sure that the audience, who always dreamed of having this game, had the opportunity to feel welcomed back. That they have a home here and that it’s a good place to tell their story.” As well as further stating JK Rowling had no direct involvement in the making of the game. Hogwarts Legacy team has gone to as far lengths as possible in order to distance themselves from JK Rowling. Many people have come out to argue that JK Rowling is not a reflection of the game, it was made by people who do not share the same views as her. Even going as far as to try to be a facet for the community hurt by Rowling’s opinions to get back into “The Wizarding World.” 

The voice actor for the main playable character Sebastian Croft, a star on the Netflix teen series LGBTQ+ received immense backlash when it was announced that he played the lead for the game. He responded via twitter, saying “I was cast in this project over three 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,” further showing that this game was made with no ill intentions to the community hurt by the ideology of Rowling.

Though the game has distanced itself from Rowling’s opinions, as well as featuring the first transgender character in the wizarding world, Sirona Ryan, a Celtic goddess associated with healing springs. 

We should not be so fast to overlook the harm that was caused by JK Rowling, and harm caused by continued support of her. So, deciding whether or not to support the game is a tricky situation, because although you are supporting Rowling, you are also supporting the animators, voice actors, directors, producers, and the studio that created the game, who are not openly transphobic. Knowing the context and understanding both sides of reason is key to making an informed decision and it only lies in your hands to decide.