Harry Potter Video Game Can Feature Transgender Characters

The next Harry Potter video game will permit players to modify their character’s voice, body type and gender placement for the school dormitories, inclining towards inclusivity after many recent controversies caused by comments from series creator J.K. Rowling that were considered as transphobic.

Hogwarts Legacy is scheduled for 2022 release from publisher Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Inc. and developer Avalanche Software. When players begin the game, they can create a character that has a masculine or feminine voice, irrespective of their body types, according to people familiar with the game’s development. The people requested anonymity as they weren’t permitted to communicate with the press.

Players could then select one of two options — “witch” or “wizard” — that will decide the dorm they are put in at the magical school of Hogwarts and how they are addressed by other characters in the game.

Though this level of customization has grown more common in video games and is no longer unusual, it’s impressive for Hogwarts Legacy. Last summer Rowling made several comments that were widely condemned as insensitive towards transgender people and criticized by many, including Harry Potter film stars Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson. The comments also unnerved a few people working on the game, due to which some members of the Hogwarts Legacy development team have fought to make the game as inclusive as possible, pushing for character customization and even for a transgender character to be included. There was a refusal from management initially, according to the people familiar with the project. However, presently, character customization is added to the game. A Warner Bros. spokesperson declined to comment.

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment is a unit of AT&T Inc. and owns titles like Harry Potter: Wizards Unite and Mortal Kombat 1. The unit had garnered interest from many major companies last year and could have earned $4 billion, according to a report from CNBC last June. But AT&T resisted given the business’s growth potential. Harry Potter is one of the most lucrative franchises in entertainment. The film series is the third-highest grossing of all time, with $7.7 billion in revenue, while Rowling has sold above half a billion books, more than any individual author in history.

Text4 Image2Last month, Hogwarts Legacy courted more controversy after gaming journalist Liam Robertson disclosed that Troy Leavitt, a senior producer at Salt Lake City-based Avalanche, made dozens of YouTube videos mocking feminism and “social justice.” He also expressed solidarity with Gamergate, a loose community of gamers who disturb journalists and game developers for voicing progressive views. ResetEra, one of the largest video game forums, enforced a complete ban on threads for promotional media around Hogwarts Legacy in the wake of that discovery and Rowling’s comments. Leavitt is yet to respond on the same.

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