"It's not a question of whether this game has objectionable content - but of saying that supporting this game in some way validates the very, very dubious positions" of the author of Harry Potter, believes Will Overgard, a "streamer "broadcasting her video game games live to thousands of viewers under the pseudonym "VikingBlonde".
The 36-year-old former video game studio employee called on social media for his "friends and colleagues" to "not support" Hogwarts Legacy, whether by buying it or by creating streams or videos YouTube on the game. His video has since been viewed over two million times.
"The reason why I made a video initially was to say: + hey friends who don't know, here's a summary +" of why supporting the game is a bad idea, explains Will Overgard to the AFP.
JK Rowling is accused of having become one of the most influential opponents of the transgender rights movement in recent years, seeing it as an attack on women's rights.
The author of Harry Potter notably opposed last year a law of the Scottish Parliament aimed at facilitating the legal recognition of gender change, authorized from the age of 16.
In recent years, her image as a writer adored by generations of readers has been largely tarnished by these accusations of transphobia against her.
And since the promotional campaign for "Hogwarts Legacy" is in full swing, calls not to contribute to its fortune through the payment of game-related royalties have flourished online.
The recent announcement that a transgender character would be included in the game has not appeased the debates.
Within LGBT+ gaming communities, “there is a lot of internal discussion on the subject,” Cody Mejeur, professor of media studies at the University of Buffalo, New York, told AFP.
"It ranges from people who still love the Harry Potter franchise and who kind of hold their noses (...) to transgender people who have been very involved in these boycott calls", observes this specialist in LGBT + issues in games videos.
According to the professor, trans players are divided between supporters of a pure and simple boycott of the game and those who adopt a critical approach, based on limited interactions and discussions around the game.
"Sometimes this will mean buying the game later, second-hand, so that you don't contribute directly" to JK Rowling's income, notes Cody Mejeur.
Critics of the game have also extended to part of the specialized press.
Site TheGamer announced in late January that it would not cover the game's release in any form.
The decision was "easy" to make, writes Jade King, one of the site's senior editorial managers, "as JK Rowling continues to establish herself as the world's most influential transphobe."
In France, the Gamekult site took a similar position by announcing on Twitter that it refused to "give an echo to a brand whose economic and media weight benefits a woman erected as the figurehead of a hate movement".
Asked by AFP, Warner Bros.
Game, parent company of the Avalanche studio that developed the game, did not respond immediately.
According to Will Overgard, calls not to buy "Hogwarts Legacy" will however have little impact on sales of the game, which thanks to pre-sales is already at the top of the best-selling video games on the Steam platform.
"It has above all made it possible to raise the debate around" the subject, he says.
© 2023 AFP