Let’s Talk About Bullying People For Playing Hogwarts Legacy

The big news in the wake of Hogwarts Legacy’s launch is that a cisgender white girl cried about it. Nothing should surprise me with the Harry Potter game, but I will admit this is a bold new direction. Trans people and their allies are now bullies for explaining why they don’t support the game. Victim Cosplay is back in fashion.

This sentiment has been growing for a while now. Streamers and players who consider themselves good people are upset that, after supporting Hogwarts Legacy, not everyone agrees with them. This lack of agreement upsets them, and so if you are behind this sinister campaign, you must be a dirty rotten bully. I know the creator of this world uses her income and platform to help legislate lives out of existence, but also, some people really liked her books ten years ago. That’s what it comes down to.

This came to a head with the channel Girlfriend Reviews, which touts itself as a wholesome place that, much like a certain mainstream gaming outlet, only considers whether a game is ‘fun to play or not’. A short clip of the game paused where the Boyfriend and Girlfriend complain about comments, leading to the Girlfriend leaving, has become a figurehead for how trans people have morphed, overnight, from the world’s victim to the world’s bully.

Was this person bullied? Did they actually even cry? Neither of these things have any real proof behind them, and yet this is one of the main news stories from the launch. The titular Girlfriend suggests to her boyfriend that they take a break, then leaves. The clip doing the rounds does not show her crying, and the fact the Boyfriend elects to stay on stream and finish the combat area suggests she was not in the extreme emotional anguish others have tried to paint this as.

There’s also no chat in the clip being circulated, meaning we don’t know if the team are upset by people asking reasonable questions about their decision to support the game that they do not want to answer, or whether there are more extreme messages lined with threats and insults. Having gone back and read the chat on their Twitch channel, it seems to be the former, and the vast majority of the chat are springing to their defence. Even if you account for deleted comments, the chat is clearly responding to fairly mild criticism rather than vulgar abuse.

Ultimately, they were accused of supporting bigotry by supporting JK Rowling. But then when even explaining reasons against supporting the game is ‘bullying’, what does it even matter? The clip also includes a defence from the streamers of Roman Polanski and Michael Jackson, and complains that they have “a target on their back for being allies” so should have credit in the bank. They also call trans people the “alt-left”, which feels like a mask off moment to me, but hey, they’re allies, right?

This is the end point of the shallowness of the #BeKind movement. On the face of it, ‘Be Kind’ is good advice. But respectability politics and a fear of confrontation have twisted its meaning to become ‘bury your head in the sand’. On one side, you have people being kind and sweet and joyful, who just want to play a game! Yay! Positivity! On the other, you have a much smaller, already marginalised group, pointing out that buying, streaming, or praising the game gives money, a further platform, and a longer future to JK Rowling, who is on the record saying she feels empowered that people support her beliefs because they keep buying her products.

The first side, who just wants everything to be fun, are upset that the second side is pointing out the reality of the situation. Unable to deal with the difficult emotions that come with wanting to support something morally compromised, they call the other side bullies for pointing it out. You made me feel bad, therefore you’re bad. It’s the logic of children. Meanwhile, the other side are regularly piled on with hate, slurs, death threats, and all kinds of harassment – not by the original Be Kind side, but by a third side of trolls who spend their entire existence online attempting to make life miserable for anyone who is a minority, whom they deem to be ‘woke’, or just whoever they feel like going after.

Has this been reported as news anywhere? The rampant bullying that trans people receive every day, that is amplified whenever they speak on this game, no matter how much they qualify and offset their opinion? We have grown used to it. We know trolls harass people and we know trans people receive some of the worst bullying around just for existing. That’s not news. One cisgender streamer becoming mildly upset at confronting the fact not everyone supports her decision to just play the game is news, apparently. Trans people are just expected to deal with the suffering. When it happens in the smallest ways to cis people, it’s suddenly gone too far.

Are there trans people who talk in extremes about this game? Absolutely. But for every example you can hit back with of exactly that happening, we can respond ten-fold with what happens to us. This is not a ‘two wrongs make a right’ situation. This is a ‘one wrong makes the news and one much larger and more vitriolic wrong is ignored because it only happens to trans people’.

Everyone is getting bullied over this game. I’m sure some people who are playing the game are dealing with comments that are nasty. I’m also sure that people who are playing it are equating reasonable objections and a lack of unanimous support as nastiness in place of any actual harassment. And I’m damn sure, more than anything else, that trans people are dealing with the most nastiness, day in and day out, both because of this game and just because they’re trying to live their lives. Write a news story about that, then we’ll talk.

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