“Hogwarts Legacy” is the game every “Harry Potter” fan has dreamed of, yet the game is surrounded by controversy.
The game has been receiving acclaim from critics and players alike, receiving a 9/10 on both IGN and Metacritic’s audience score. The most criticism the game has received in respect to gameplay is that it is mundane and relies heavily on creating “Harry Potter” fan service. The true source of controversy, however, stems from the game’s origins and plot.
J.K. Rowling, creator of the “Harry Potter” universe and writer of the book series, has been recorded making comments invalidating the identities of trans people, specifically trans women. This has caused many members of the LGBTQ+ community to detach themselves from the series, whose themes of found family they once found solace in.
By extension, many of those who do not support Rowling’s transphobic comments have become outspoken against purchases of the game, seeing it as an endorsement of her. While she does receive royalties for any licensed content created using the “Harry Potter” universe, the official “Hogwarts Legacy” website states that “J.K. Rowling was not involved in the creation of the game,” making the connection to her simply referential.
Rowling’s history is not the only source of outrage amidst the gaming community. Many people have reported themes of antisemitism through one of the races that plays a pivotal role in game: the goblins.
In the game, a goblin named Ranrok starts a rebellion to revolt against the wizarding world and obtains magical powers, something the wizard community has restricted access to in the past. This rebellion of an oppressed group, paired with the goblins large, hooked nose and their characterization as stingy bankers has led many to draw similarities between the goblins in “Hogwarts Legacy”, as well as “Harry Potter” as a whole, and the stereotypes of Jewish people that are perpetuated by antisemitism.
I do not think that goblins themselves are an antisemitic symbol. The only instance in which goblins and Jews were historically linked was a specific folklore creature called a knocker. They were the spirit of Jewish tin miners who caused mischief and stole tools and materials from miners, and its depiction was not inherently antisemitic.
The issues come with the depiction of goblins in the “Harry Potter” universe and, subsequently, “Hogwarts Legacy.” Their depiction very closely resembles the antisemitic propaganda propagated throughout the Nazi regime, which heavily dehumanized the Jewish population and equated them to evil creatures.
Down to specific characteristics like the hooked nose, stingy greed and control over the financial system, the parallels between antisemitic stereotypes and the characterization of the goblins in “Harry Potter” makes the game’s driving plot to stop their rebellion against an oppressive system concerning at the very least.
I don’t see myself playing “Hogwarts Legacy” anytime soon, but I ask anyone looking to pick up the game and experience the “Harry Potter” world like they’ve always dreamed to at least acknowledge the shortcomings of that story before doing so.