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Hogwarts Legacy developer leaves the game following controversial YouTube videos

By Tim Augustin - on 8 Mar 2021, 3:00pm

Hogwarts Legacy developer leaves the game following controversial YouTube videos

Image: WB Games

Harry Potter and controversy - what’s new?

Hogwarts Legacy’s lead designer Troy Leavitt has departed the game’s development after controversy surrounding his YouTube channel, where he defended the Gamergate movement and, among other things, dismissed complaints of sexual misconduct against high-ranking media executives. 

Leavitt made the announcement via a series of tweets, stating that he was resigning for reasons that he will explain in a, “forthcoming video.” He also said that he had, “nothing but good things to say about the game, the dev team, and WB Games,” suggesting that this was an amicable decision. 

Leavitt acted as lead designer on Hogwarts Legacy, an open-world RPG developed by Avalanche Software set within the Harry Potter universe. The controversy surrounding Leavitt hit a fever pitch when his four-year-old YouTube channel was found to contain criticism against social justice activism and defended figures like Pixar’s co-founder John Lasseter and Atari’s co-founder Nolan Bushnell, who had been accused of sexual harassment. He also defended Gamergate, an online harassment campaign that has targeted progressive, feminist figures (mostly women) in the games industry by making threats against their wellbeing and doxing them. 

After these videos from Leavitt’s YouTube channel resurfaced, the popular online forum ResetEra decided to ban all threads about Hogwarts Legacy, with an administrator stating, “This is a uniquely awful situation where both the creator of the IP and a senior producer on the game have unrepentant bigoted views [...] There will be no threads for trailers or official announcements, no hype threads, no fluff pieces about its features.”

After that, Bloomberg put out a report revealing that Hogwarts Legacy will allow players to create transgender characters via its character creation options. This also came after a series of transphobic tweets from Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, which earlier led WB Games to clarify that Rowling was not involved in the game’s production. Bloomberg reporter Jason Schreier stated that the game’s developers were, “sad and frustrated,” by the controversy surrounding the game, and that management had resisted efforts to make the character creator trans-inclusive at first. 

Even if the game turns out to be phenomenal, it seems like Hogwarts Legacy will forever live under the dark shadows of controversy that have tainted so much of the Harry Potter franchise - including the movies. The game was originally set to launch in 2021, but has since been delayed to 2022. 

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