Like any industry, video games have evolved with the times. One area with visible change is representation. As the cultural zeitgeist and political spectrum have shifted, more and more developers have attempted to push diversity in their releases. Unfortunately, these attempts have yielded mixed results, sometimes negatively impacting both the game and the cause.
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Hogwarts Legacy shines in that sense. This Harry Potter title has a tremendous amount of variety, some of which stems from its different social groups. What’s more, is that its push for representation feels organic. Rather than strive for diversity to check a box, the developers use said diversity to enrich the world and strengthen the gameplay. That’s a feat that far too many games fail to achieve. The result is a much richer mixture all around. That’s why Hogwarts Legacy is such a success for representation and gaming in general.
6 Character Creation
Players Can Make Their Wizards Look Just Like Them
This should be the most obvious example. Rather than place fans in the shoes of an established protagonist, it lets them build their own burgeoning witches or wizards. Hogwarts Legacy begins with a varied character creation tool. The player can customize the hero’s gender and appearance. In that, they can pick from a plethora of skin tones and facial features. The game even lets them adjust the vocal pitch. Granted, the process isn’t as robust as other character-creation tools. Many of the models seem to stem from the same template.
However, this demonstrates how commonplace the mechanic is becoming among western RPGs. That is no bad thing. When done well, as is mostly the case here, it can strengthen immersion exponentially. Players can literally see themselves in their favorite gaming worlds.
5 It’s A Global School
Hogwarts Has Students And Staff From Across The Globe
It’s plain to see that the adventure hosts a diverse cast of characters. The hero’s classmates hail from all corners of the world and countless walks of life. Their diversity lies not just in their appearance, but also in their experience. Natsai Onai, for instance, is an exchange student from Uganda. Ominis Gaunt is blind, and thus, uses his wand to navigate. It’s not just the kids, though.
The teachers and other adults also have varied origins. Professor Shah seems to come from India or the Middle East while Madam Kogawa is a graduate of a Japanese magic school. These are just a few examples and demonstrate the expansive reach of Hogwarts. The game mirrors the worldwide phenomenon of the books and movies in that sense.
4 Not Just Humans
Diversity Extends To Other Species, Too
Hogwarts and the surrounding highlands are home to numerous mystical creatures. Not only are several of these sentient beings, but they all have their own places within the Wizarding World. The most common examples are house elves and goblins, whom players regularly encounter on their journeys. They’ve firmly integrated into human society. On the other hand, centaurs guard the Forbidden Forest. Their tribal mindset and past ordeals have given them a deep mistrust of wizards. Such dynamics are unique to J.K. Rowling’s world.
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The developers make ample use of that world. Among the benefits of fantasy is the wealth of fictional races and creatures. Intelligent life could come from literally any source. Audiences naturally want to learn the extent of that philosophy. As a result, representation aids in world-building.
3 An Original Cast
New Faces Means New Chances For Diversity
Although Hogwarts Legacy takes place in the Harry Potter world, it contains a completely new cast of characters. Because of that, the developers can design said characters however they see fit. This freedom is an opportunity for representation through addition rather than replacement.
A number of modern adaptations prioritize representation over faithfulness. They deliberately change the races or sexes of established characters. The goal is to modernize the story, but the decision usually causes controversy. Loyalists are angry at the changes, as the creators seem to disregard the property for their own purposes. At the same time, it cheats and tokenizes the people whom it’s supposed to represent. Rather than craft a new figure for these groups to rally behind, the creators toss them a used character to fill a diversity quota. The franchise has already earned ire for that with Hermione in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Thankfully, Hogwarts Legacy sidesteps that issue.
Again, it is filled with fresh faces. This yields several benefits. First, it lets the developers fulfill their representation goals. Second, people of all races and sexes truly have a presence in the setting. Third, purists aren’t up in arms about trampling the source material for brownie points. Everyone wins.
2 It’s A Team Effort
Everyone Gets A Time To Shine
The game doesn’t relegate its diverse cast to being extras in the background. Most characters have roles to play at some point in the story, with those roles stemming from their unique experiences. For instance, Amit helps the player decipher the goblins’ plans by studying their language. In addition, Poppy aids in infiltrating the poachers’ illegal dragon-fighting ring, drawing on expertise from her parents’ history in the terrible trade. Their exploits don’t end there.
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Many of the stars also sport extensive side quests. Natty takes a personal interest in pursuing the poachers. After all, their unscrupulous actions resulted in her father’s death in their native land. Meanwhile, Ominis accompanies players in pursuit of dark magic. However, he cautions them against it after unwilling firsthand experience from his pureblood family. These storylines derive substance from diversity. In doing so, the game cements these guys as living, breathing inhabitants of the Wizarding World rather than token inclusions.
1 The Story
Racial Division And Classism As Central Themes
The most complex stride in representation is the main narrative. Hogwarts Legacy essentially concerns a race war. The malicious Ranrok seeks a source of ancient magic. He and his fellow goblins plan to use that magic to rise above the oppressive humans.
This premise raises intriguing questions about the wizards’ treatment of other sentient species. They treat even the most intelligent creatures as second-class citizens. House elves, for instance, serve as slaves. The conflict sees offensives from both sides, and individuals may alienate their peers depending on which stance they take. It’s here that Hogwarts Legacy channels the same social themes as other challenging IPs like The Witcher, Star Trek, and X-Men. It authentically portrays humans’ prejudice toward the unfamiliar. The problem is that it doesn’t go far enough.
By the end, the tale forgets these questions in lieu of tying everything in a neat, little bow. Ranrok boils down to a standard villain who wants to destroy everything, with his arguments seeing no meaningful resolution. That said, exploring these issues in the first place gives the narrative some surprising weight. What’s more impressive is that it doesn’t compromise the property, lore, or appeal. It’s actually an engaging expansion of Voldemort’s “pure blood” themes in the mainline series. Representation lies at the heart of such concepts, and Hogwarts Legacy has that in spades.
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Legacy
- February 10, 2023