A screenshot from the Hogwarts Legacy Purchase Simulator

‘Hogwarts Legacy Purchase Simulator’ Skewers the ‘But the Developers’ Argument

The headlines speak for themselves

Do you find yourself in a moral quandary, torn between not giving your money to transphobes and anti-Semites or “supporting the developers” (who have already been paid)? Now there’s a great new tool to help you decide—the Hogwarts Legacy Purchase Simulator!

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Created by Liana, a 29-year-old trans woman, Hogwarts Legacy Purchase Simulator exists as a satirical tool exposing just how ridiculous the “think of the developers,” “its just a game bro,” and “gamers are being persecuted by mean trans people” takes really are.

What happens in ‘Hogwarts Legacy Purchase Simulator’?

The Simulator‘s game begins with Warner Brothers CEO David Zaslav addressing the player, asking them to buy the game because “the developers worked really hard and deserve their reward.” People have take this excuse for buying the game in the face of Rowling’s bigotry and run with it, despite the fact that game developers are paid an agreed-upon amount prior to a game’s release. That amount isn’t impacted by sales.

Zaslav is then countered by a woman named Ashley, reminding you that the game is directly associated with Rowling (reminder: she receives royalties from it) and that Rowling uses her Harry Potter-derived wealth and fame to campaign directly against trans rights.

From here, you get to start making decisions about whether you’re going to buy a copy of the game or not. Even if you do, it turns out that one just isn’t enough. Continuing to harp on the fate of the workers and attempting to distance the game from Rowling (again, profiting off the sales), Zaslav tries to get you to buy more and more copies. Other familiar figures from the discourse show up, too, including Hasan Abi, Asmongold, a clearly fictional character known as Blair Milky, and even J. K. Rowling herself. They either berate or reward you for your game-purchasing choices.

Depending on whether or not you succumb to the increasingly absurd arguments to buy the game (which sadly reflect the very real statements made by many involved), Zaslav eventually challenges you to buy as many copies as you can in ten seconds. All for the sake of the workers, of course. Meanwhile, refusal to buy multiple copies leads to the player being berated by Hasan Abi and Blaire Milky for making the trans community look bad. Blaire Milky incorrectly explains the death of the author. Finally, Rowling herself appears at the end of the game to congratulate you for “defending sex-based rights” if you buy enough copies, or berate you for “silencing women” if you don’t.

Why it’s such brilliant commentary

What makes this game particularly effective is the intrusion of the real world into the game, from headlines covering transphobic incidents and legislation, to tweets from the figures being satirized. Every time you buy a new copy of Hogwarts Legacy, another headline appears to the left, either detailing another loss of legal rights of protections from trans people or J. K. Rowling’s explicit support and connection to the movement. Tweets from Rowling insert themselves into the dialogue box, reminding or informing the player of the explicitly transphobic statements she’s made. And the time she said that the revenue she received from Harry Potter and her other properties more than makes up for the loss of respect and readers over her transphobia.

Obviously, an individual sale, even of multiple items, isn’t directly responsible for Rowling’s wealth and power, or the things she chooses to do with them. This is something the game actually acknowledges if you get the berated by Rowling ending, which reveals how little difference the boycott attempt has made in terms of sales and revenue. But just because you won’t single-handedly bring down a powerful bigot by refusing to buy their work doesn’t mean you have to personally help enrich them, either. Public dissent, even small in the grand scale, does help to shift the dialogue towards a less violent place.

Making Harry Potter less commercially and socially viable does mean that companies’ attention will move to other, less controversial and higher-revenue projects. This process has to start somewhere. It’s not going to go from zero to success overnight.

However, this isn’t actually the point being made by Liana, or a lot of other trans commenters who’ve been dragged in to the Harry Potter discourse. The game has a “talk to the creator” postscript (which even includes a fun little dating simulator), where Liana answers frequently asked questions about the game and her reasons for creating it. She begins by saying she hadn’t planned on making the game and had been generally avoiding Hogwarts Legacy content. Like a lot of trans people, she was tired and simply dreading the uptick in transphobia every new Potter– and Rowling-based incident brings. Liana goes on to explain that it was the trans people-oppressing gamers’ rhetoric that pushed her into action.

“The thing is,” Liana says in the game, “seeing so many people cry about how they’re being oppressed because a few trans people are asking them to maybe please not play a game is very annoying. Many of us who were trying to ignore the game got tired of it and started talking about it too, because it was unavoidable anyway. So we might as well.”

This idea that gamers are being oppressed when asked not to play an anti-Semitic game that will further enrich a powerful transphobe has become increasingly popular after some popular streamers faced generally mild pushback for playing the game. One result is that members of the gaming community, like Asmongold, have responded by going to bat for the game and encouraging other people to buy and play it. If not for the controversy, they likely wouldn’t have. This kind of reactionary fragility, where individuals take criticism of an action or desire as an attack on their self-image as a good person, leads to members of the dominant group reframing themselves as the victims, under attack by the vicious minority. Active bigots are ready and waiting to exploit this, as they now have an excuse to side with the “want to feel like good people” crowd and do the thing they wanted to do anyway.

Liana’s game systematically dismantles the idea that trans people and their allies are in some way harming or oppressing gamers who want to play Hogwarts Legacy. By pairing the reaction of public figures with the (sometimes justifiably angry) requests that they not buy or stream a game with a transphobic creator, the Hogwarts Legacy Purchase Simulator shows just how ridiculous this “oppressing gamers” talking point really is. Juxtaposing it with headlines that display the spread of transphobia, the loss of legal rights and protections, and the rise of anti-trans legislation provides a much-needed sense of perspective. It’s also a reminder of which community is actively being harmed right now—and what real harm verses hurt feelings actually looks like.

It’s one of the best take-downs of privileged whining I’ve seen in some time. Not bad for a self proclaimed shit post, put together in less time than I took to write this article.

(Featured image: Nalaria via itch.io)


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Author
Siobhan Ball
Siobhan Ball (she/her) is a contributing writer covering news, queer stuff, politics and Star Wars. A former historian and archivist, she made her first forays into journalism by writing a number of queer history articles c. 2016 and things spiralled from there. When she's not working she's still writing, with several novels and a book on Irish myth on the go, as well as developing her skills as a jeweller.