Resetera, one of the internet’s largest video game forums, banned all promotional material for Avalanche Studios’ upcoming “Hogwarts Legacy” following reports that one of the game’s lead designers previously created YouTube videos praising Gamergate.
Freelance journalist Liam Robertson tweeted screenshots of Avalanche Studios lead designer Troy Leavitt’s YouTube account on February 19 that showcased videos with titles such as “The Injustice of Social Justice,” “In Praise of Cultural Appropriation,” and “In Defense of John Lasseter,” a former Pixar executive who left the company in 2018 following sexual misconduct allegations. Leavitt’s comments on social media, combined with “Harry Potter” creator J.K. Rowling’s anti-trans comments on social media, incentivized Resetera to ban all promotinal material regarding the upcoming video game.
“This is the first time we’ve done something like this, and we consider this a very exceptional case,” Hecht, a Resetera administrator, said in a Tuesday statement on the forum. “It’s not just one bigoted game designer that made the difference here. JK Rowling’s singular reach and influence, how closely that influence is tied to the Harry Potter IP, and what she chooses to do with that power, is a unique problem on top of this latest controversy.”
A representative for Warner Bros. Games declined to comment. Avalanche Studios and Leavitt did not return requests for comment.
Leavitt’s YouTube account, which has been inactive since 2018, primarily featured video blogs where the game designer criticized various social justice movements and expressed support for the Gamergate controversy, an online harassment campaign against several female game designers, feminist media critics, and so-called “social justice warriors” that began in 2014. Leavitt referred to the #MeToo movement as a “moral panic” in his video defending Lasseter and claimed that society gives preferential treatment to LGBTQ and disabled individuals, women, and persons of color in a video titled “Social Justice Ten Commandments.”
“Some of you have expressed that due to my commentary on some game industry controversies and my sympathies for the Gamergate movement that I might have a difficult time, should I ever want to return to professional game development,” Leavitt said in a 2018 YouTube video. “I am to say that even though I disclosed my YouTube channel to WB Games, it didn’t appear to be an issue for them — not that they endorse anything I’ve said, of course, but at least they seem more concerned with making good games than with pushing some kind of a social justice agenda, so there is hope.”
“Hogwarts Legacy,” which is scheduled to release on PC and the PlayStation and Xbox consoles in 2022, previously caused a stir in the gaming press due to Rowling’s association with the “Harry Potter” brand. Shortly after the game’s announcement, the FAQ on the “Hogwarts Legacy” website was updated to note that Rowling was not “directly associated” in the creation of the game or its story.