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    Wednesday, March 3, 2021

    New Harry Potter Game to Allow Transgender Characters

    Transgender witches or wizards can reportedly enroll in the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in an upcoming video game set in the 1800s — a century before famed boy wizard Harry Potter ever received an owl informing him of the fictional school’s existence.

    In an attempt at an inclusive wizarding world in the gaming universe, the “Harry Potter"-themed video game, “Hogwarts Legacy,” will allow players to create transgender characters depending on how they customize their character’s voice, body type and gender placement in the school’s fabled dormitories, according to a Bloomberg report published Tuesday.

    Although this level of customization has grown more common in video games and is no longer unusual, it’s noteworthy for Hogwarts Legacy. Last summer Rowling made several comments that were widely viewed as demeaning toward transgender people and denounced by many, including Harry Potter film stars Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson.

    The comments also rattled some people working on the game, Bloomberg reported. As a result, some members of the Hogwarts Legacy development team have fought to make the game as inclusive as possible, pushing for the character customization and even for a transgender character to be added.

    There was resistance from management at first, the people familiar with the project said, but currently the character customization is included in the game. A Warner Bros. spokesperson declined to comment.

    Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment is a unit of AT&T Inc. and houses titles like Harry Potter: Wizards Unite and Mortal Kombat 1. The unit had attracted interest from several major companies last year and could have reaped $4 billion, according to a report from CNBC last June.

    But AT&T balked given the business’s growth potential, Bloomberg reported, and pulled the unit from a list of potential asset sales. 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 more than half a billion books, more than any individual author in history.

    Last month, Hogwarts Legacy faced more controversy after gaming journalist Liam Robertson revealed that Troy Leavitt, a senior producer at Salt Lake City-based Avalanche, made dozens of YouTube videos attacking feminism and “social justice.”

    He also expressed support for Gamergate, a loose community of gamers who harass journalists and game developers for voicing progressive views. ResetEra, one of the largest video game forums, enacted “a total ban on threads for promotional media” around Hogwarts Legacy in the wake of that discovery and Rowling’s comments. Leavitt didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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