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Harry Potter video game developers ‘uncomfortable’ in the wake of JK Rowling’s views on trans people

Nick Duffy June 29, 2020
JK Rowling leaves Harry Potter video game developers 'uncomfortable'

Staff working on the game are said to be unhappy about the author's interventions on trans issues (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Developers working on a Harry Potter video game have voiced discomfort with author JK Rowling and her beliefs about trans people.

According to Bloomberg, a long-rumoured but unannounced open world Harry Potter game is in development at Warner Bros’ Avalanche Software for next-gen consoles.

However, the Utah-based team working on the project has been rattled by the author’s repeated interventions over transgender issues, which have also been condemned by the stars of the Harry Potter movie franchise.

Harry Potter game developers are uncomfortable and anxious.

Bloomberg reports that there have been private discussions between game developers voicing anxiety and discomfort with Rowling’s beliefs, but that the studio’s management has not addressed her views.

It’s unclear when the project, the announcement of which has been pushed back due to COVID-19, will be officially unveiled.

It is yet to be seen whether the author’s views will have a financial impact on her lucrative Harry Potter empire – though the latest film set in the Wizarding World universe, 2018’s poorly-reviewed Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, set the record for the lowest US box office opening for a Harry Potter movie before Rowling’s beliefs on trans issues even became public knowledge.

The open world Harry Potter game is yet to be officially announced
The open world video game is yet to be officially announced (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Thousands of LGBT+ Harry Potter fans have voiced their disappointment with their author, and many have vowed to stop buying products associated with her.

Felicia Grady, of Harry Potter fansite MuggleNet told Bloomberg: “Based on what I’ve seen from fans, I do believe that Rowling’s comments have had some effect on the level of excitement they have for the Harry Potter RPG or other upcoming content,.

“We’ve seen comments from fans who no longer wish to support Rowling or the brand financially.”

People are breaking ties with JK Rowling and her literary empire.

Mugglenet and the Leaky Cauldron fan forum have both made their support for trans people clear, while the fan-run Harry Potter Alliance also disavowed the author.

Last week, four transgender authors quit The Blair Partnership, the writing agency that represents JK Rowling, after it rejected a request to hold inclusion training for staff on trans issues.

The agency then claimed publicly that the four writers had “decided to leave because we did not meet their demands to be re-educated to their point of view”.

Meanwhile, unhappy staff at publishing house Hachette UK have been ordered to continue work on new JK Rowling children’s book The Ickabog under the alleged threat of further action if they refuse.

The publishing house said that while it would usually allow employees to not work on a book “whose content they find upsetting for personal reasons”, it would not do so in the case of Rowling’s work because “we draw a distinction between that and refusing to work on a book because they disagree with an author’s views outside their writing, which runs contrary to our belief in free speech”.

More: anti-trans, Avalanche Software, Harry Potter, Harry Potter video game, JK Rowling, transphobia, video game, warner bros

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