If You Play This Harry Potter Game, Are You Hitler?

If You Play This Harry Potter Game, Are You Hitler?
Is the wizard newspaper named the Pureblöodischer Beobachter? (Image: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)

The video game Hogwarts Legacy is set to be released this week, after five years in development, during which Harry Potter author JK Rowling has beclowned herself with all sorts of stupidhead bigotry against transgender people, for which she has been widely shunned by lots of LGBTQ people and others. Despite the fact that many disenchanted fans (see what we did there?) are very over her, no one should call Rowling "cancelled," since she can publish anything she wants and be assured it'll pull in millions of dollars and pounds and Euros and probably Pokédollars too. And indeed, Hogwurst Legacy is already breaking sales records even though it won't officially be released until tomorrow.

Publishers Warner Interactive Entertainment have made clear that Rowling wasn't directly involved with creating the game, which takes place in a 19th Century wizarding world long before any of the characters from the familiar books and movies were around. But it's the official Potterverse, so of course she'll be making loads of royalties off every copy of Hogfather Litany sold. Plenty of folks are just plain not in the mood to enrich the transphobic author at all, no, not even though the game developers threw in an officially trans character, who MSNBC columnist Katelyn Burns says is

comically named Sirona Ryan. Sirona, we’re told, is an old Celtic name for a goddess of healing. But many trans people immediately pointed out that the word “Sir,” which is a common way to misgender trans women, is quite prominent in the name itself.

Trans people on social media were bemused but unsurprised by this gambit from the developer. As a community, we’ve joked for years about what kind of insultingly stereotypical name we’d get for the first trans Potter character. [...] My money for the name of the first trans character was on “Manny McManhands.”

But as several critics have been pointing out for almost a year, there's a whole 'nother reason to roll your eyes at Hogshead Density and say "ick, I'd rather play with my cat."

One subplot of Hogbilly Elegy (thanks, Wonkette Operative "Say it with Wookiees") involves your wizardy character going off to quell a Goblin Rebellion, as the Mary Sue 'splainers:

In Hogwarts Legacy, goblins are rebelling against wizards for not being allowed to carry wands and are depicted as the antagonists in that struggle, with the rebellion leader even tenuously teaming up with a dark wizard to achieve his goals.

Framing an oppressed species as evil for wanting to freely use their own magic and not be oppressed anymore is honestly gross. Considering the goblins are depicted as hook-nosed, greedy bankers—a staple of anti-Jewish propaganda since the Middle Ages—this plot feels even worse.

But wait! There's more! In a trailer for Hogfish Lunacy released a few months ago, the Head Baddie Goblin, named Ranrock (no, not Ragnarok, though we wouldn't be surprised if somebody thought that would be a clever bit of irony), villainsplains that he intends to kidnap you, the playable character who's a kidwizard at Hogwarts, for shady ritual magic-McGuffin purposes.

Hmm ... kidnapping children to grind up into little pieces for creepy rituals? Sounds a little Blood Libel-y! If it's an intentional reference, that's kind of sick, and if it's an "accidental" plot point — bad guys do tend to murder innocents with alarming frequency in fantasy — it's still pretty badly thought out.

Now, since the game hasn't been released yet, I haven't seen any confirmation that the plot point is in the released version of the game, or how it actually plays out, so maybe the actual story goes in a less icky antisemitic direction where the goblins are still freakily antisemitic hook-nosed caricatures who are obsessed with gold but not actively poisoning wells or making goblin matzoh with wizard children's blood.

And we certainly shouldn't be the least bit concerned that the game's lead designer formerly ran a YouTube channel where he mocked social justice and thought the misogynist trollfest Gamergate, "while painful at times, on the whole proved to be a good thing," because how can you empower incels without inspiring a few mass shootings?

But the hell with it, I wouldn't give Rowling any royalty money even if I hadn't fallen out of the video game habit not long after finishing the first Portal, or maybe it was the second Katamari Damacy.

In conclusion, maybe it's all a big coincidence. People read all sorts of things into texts, like thinking that Don't Look Up is somehow about climate change when the movie is very clearly about a planet-killing comet, the end.


[Mary Sue / CNN / MSNBC / Uppercut! / The Gamer / Kotaku]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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