Even before the official announcement, speculation swirled around key aspects of The Hogwarts Legacy, the Harry Potter RPG. Specifically, how the game would handle character creation.
It may sound strange that a character creator would be the center of attention, but there are good reasons for that. In the Harry Potter books, each character goes through the sorting process, instantly reflecting something about themselves. So with Hogwarts Legacy, a role-playing game where you can bring your wizarding fantasy to life, it’s important that players can create a character that reflects the way they intend to play.
Another source of interest is the statements of the author of the books, JK Rowling. On Twitter and in essays, the writer spoke out against transgender rights, arguing for example against allowing transgender women to use women’s bathrooms, writing in one essay (opens in a new tab) that “When you open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels like a woman … then you open the door to all men who want to come inside.”
Hogwarts Legacy developer confirmed game FAQ (opens in a new tab) that “JK Rowling is not involved in the development of the game”, but also did not distance herself from the writer, going on to say “as the creator of the wizarding world and one of the world’s greatest storytellers, her extraordinary writing output is the basis of all projects in the Wizarding World. [W]We’ve worked closely with her team on all aspects of the game to ensure it stays true to the magical experience fans have come to expect.”
That’s why when today’s Hogwarts Legacy stream opened with the developer saying they’d be showing off the game’s character creator, it was so interesting: how would the game treat sex and gender? Would this reflect JK Rowling’s stated beliefs?
Most of the Hogwarts Legacy character creators are as expected. You can choose from ready-made character configurations, change facial features, skin and hair color, hairstyle, and even choose a pair of glasses for your character. The full round rim speaks to its Harry Potter-like quality, but I may have to pick up the semi-circular crescent bezels myself.
In the last panel of the character creator, you can choose between “Voice One” and “Voice Two”, with one sounding more masculine and the other more feminine, and then once you’ve made your selection, you can change the tone of your choice, too.
The final choice is whether you will be placed in a witches’ or wizards’ dormitory in your house’s dormitory. There is no reference to gender in the entire creation process. You seem to have complete freedom to create a female-sounding male character that has a bed in any dorm without compromising the game’s tools.
After much speculation about how Avalanche Studios’ developers would handle this thorny topic, it seems the team has threaded the needle well by allowing players to create avatars that represent and reflect the characters they want to play. Let’s hope that same sensibility persists throughout the game in terms of how you address other characters and how they address you.
For Harry Potter fans whose relationship with the books has been questioned by JK Rowling’s statements, this is an important step towards transforming Hogwarts Legacy into a welcoming play space.