Hogwarts Legacy’s game reflect the Harry Potter gender debate
The controversial and keenly anticipated open-world role-playing game Hogwarts Legacy was released a week ago, and reviews have been mixed.
Some have praised the sweeping expanses of Hogwarts castle and its surrounds, and others have criticised its stagnant loot-collection mechanics. Much of the discourse has centred on tensions and expression around gender.
The game has been subject to controversy regarding the anti-trans remarks made by the Wizarding World franchise’s creator, Harry Potter series author JK Rowling.
Many reviews are prefaced by denouncements of Rowling and her views on gender, while some Harry Potter fans argue that the work should be separated from its originator.
Rowling has written about her “deep concerns about the effect the trans rights movement”. The inclusion of a trans character and other gender-inclusive elements by the developers, such as character creation mechanics, show that tensions around gender expression also manifest in Hogwarts Legacy.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, on which Hogwarts Legacy is based, is deeply structured around a patriarchal gender binary. The in-world equivalents for male and female are “wizard” and “witch”, respectively, but the default term for someone who uses magic is wizard – much as the word “man” refers to both the gender and the human species.
Anxieties about men in female spaces appear in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, in which Ron attempts to enter the girls’ dormitory. The staircase magically transforms into a slide and he is ejected. No such system exists for the boys’ dormitories.
A metaphorical kind of identity-essentialism is built into the Sorting Hat process of Hogwarts as well. At the age of 11, new students of Hogwarts are “sorted” into a school house. Their house determines what colours they wear, whom they share living spaces with, and whom they have their classes with, and it inevitably becomes a huge part of their identity during their time at Hogwarts and into their adult lives. This decision is made by a sentient hat who looks into each peri-pubescent child’s mind and decides their fate forever.
Transitioning house is not an option.
So how does Hogwarts Legacy metabolise all of this? Hogwarts Legacy supposedly features the first transgender characterin the Wizarding World franchise, a witch named Sirona Ryan, who is the proprietor of the Three Broomsticks.
The game’s character creation system approaches gender in a way that suggests it is trying to distance itself from Rowling, by ostensibly allowing players to create their own trans player characters.
But I think it is slightly more complex than this.
Hogwarts Legacy is an open world role-playing game (RPG), meaning the player starts the game by creating their own character before the story begins.
Conventionally, RPG character creation starts with choosing a sex for your character. This determines what their body will look like, and often limits the cosmetic options for hairstyle and clothing. It also usually determines the pitch of your character’s voice during gameplay and the pronouns with which your character is referred to by others during cinematic cutscenes.
More recently, RPGs are incorporating slight changes to their character creation systems to make them more inclusive. In 2022’s Game of the Year, Fromsoft’s Elden Ring, players can choose between “Body A” or “Body B” in place of male or female.
Similarly, in Hogwarts Legacy, players begin by choosing a starting appearance from a selection of presets, half of which are wearing skirt versions of the starting outfit, and half wearing trousers. Players then go on to modify facial features, hairstyle and voice.
Players also name their own characters. Because of how voice-acted cutscenes work in games, the player character is never referred to by their customised name. The player character is always spoken of using they/them pronouns, or called “the child”.
In this, players can chose from a variety of gendered characteristics, and are in many ways non-binary. But when this is done, players are asked to select whether they are a “witch” or “wizard”. An on-screen note indicates that this determines which dormitory they are placed in.
Once the game begins, players may make some cosmetic modifications to their character but cannot change their gender, much as they cannot change their house.
Although Hogwarts Legacy’s developers have incorporated mechanics to make the game more inclusive, the world in which it is set is a product of its creator’s views.
Ed Sheeran admits he “didn’t want to live anymore” after death of friends
The 32-year-old has been dealing with depression in the past, and felt the feelings resurface last year
Ed Sheeran has opened up during a new interview with Rolling Stone.
The hugely-popular singer-songwriter says he “didn’t want to live any more” after the deaths of his friends SBTV founder Jamal Edwards and cricketer Shane Warne.
Edwards gave Sheeran his first big break and died suddenly from a heart attack in after taking cocaine and drinking alcohol.
Sheeran believes the tragedy convinced him to kick a drug habit he himself had developed in his 20s.
Sheeran says he has been dealing with depression “throughout [his] life” and felt the feelings resurface last year.
A parent to two young girls, Sheeran was worried his thoughts were “selfish” and as a father he “felt really embarrassed about it”.
The 32-year-old credits his wife with encouraging him to seek help.
“The help isn’t a button that is pressed, where you’re automatically OK. It is something that will always be there and just has to be managed.”
‘Winnie The Pooh’ horror film to not be shown in Hong Kong or Macau
Many believe it relates to a string of protests against Xi Jinping
The new ‘Winnie the Pooh’ horror film has officially hit cinemas – but if you live in Hong Kong or Macau, sorry, unfortunately you won’t get a chance to see it.
Cinemas in these regions have refused to show the movie and, while the exact reason remains unclear, many believe it relates to a string of protests against Xi Jinping.
References to the original, family-friendly version of Winnie the Pooh have been used to protest against the Chinese president in recent years.
Censors in China have since clamped down on references to AA Milne’s character, and the 2018 Christopher Robin film was banned in the country.
Hong Kong authorities have denied the film had been censored, but the director told Reuters: “The cinemas agreed to show it, then all independently came to the same decision overnight. It [isn’t] a coincidence.”
The film has been shown in over 4,000 cinemas worldwide.
But perhaps it’s for the best it was banned in Hong Kong and Macau – the horror flick has received a score of just four per cent on film rating site Rotten Tomatoes.
It depicts Pooh bear, known for being kind and honest, as a vengeful axe wielding half-man, half-bear.
Three men plead guilty to rapper XXXTentacion death
The rapper was shot and killed in Florida in June 2018
The three men accused of killing 20-year-old rapper XXXTentacion during a 2018 ambush robbery have been found guilty.
A Florida jury convicted Michael Boatwright, Dedrick Williams and Trayvon Newsome on Monday after deliberating for more than a week.
All three were charged with first-degree murder in connection to the death of the controversial rapper.
Another man, Robert Allen, pleaded guilty last year to second-degree murder.
The three face a possible sentence of life behind bars.
The rapper was shot and killed in Florida in June 2018 while visiting a motorcycle shop.
He was leaving when he was approached by two armed masked men who “demanded property” from him.
At least one of the men shot him during a 45-second struggle and the suspects then grabbed a bag full of $50,000 in cash that the rapper had just withdrawn.
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