Avalanche Software/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

The new 'Harry Potter' video game will include transgender characters (take that, J. K. Rowling)

In a tacit rejection of J. K. Rowling’s transphobia, developers working on the highly anticipated Harry Potter video game, Hogwarts Legacy, fought to include character customization options that allow for transgender avatars, according to Bloomberg. Players will be able to pair a masculine or feminine voice with any body type. When it’s time to be sorted into houses, they’ll be asked to choose whether they are a “witch or a wizard” to decide their dormitory placement.

This amount of control over a player’s avatar is common among contemporary video games, but it’s noteworthy in the context of the transphobic views espoused by Harry Potter author Rowling in recent years. In December 2019, she drew ire for defending a woman who was fired for posting transphobic comments on social media. In June, Rowling aired her support for TERF, or trans-exclusionary radical feminist, ideas in a series of tweets. She then doubled-down on her problematic views with a sprawling 3,600-word blog post.

Stars of the Harry Potter films, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, apologized to fans who felt betrayed by the author’s prejudice. According to Bloomberg, developers working on Hogwarts Legacy were similarly shaken by Rowling’s problematic views. In protest, some have lobbied to make the immersive, open-world RPG as inclusive as possible. There was initial pushback from management, but the current version of the game incorporates character customization.

Hogwarts Legacy, slated for release in 2022, offers players the chance to experience attending the wizarding school in the late 1800s. Their character is a student who “holds the key to an ancient secret that threatens to tear the wizarding world apart,” according to Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

I’m showing my age, but I remember playing the 2001 Sorcerer’s Stone game on my family’s PC. And I’m revealing I’m not a contemporary gamer, but comparatively, the trailer for Hogwarts Legacy looks so visually stunning and immersive that playing it would probably feel like almost, sort of, really having magical powers. I wonder if you’ll be able to play this game in VR? If so, there’s no reason for anyone to ever visit the Wizarding World theme park ever again.