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Hogwarts Legacy lead designer criticised for reactionary YouTube videos

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Last year, Hogwarts Legacy developer Avalanche distanced the Harry Potter RPG from series creator JK Rowling and her transphobic commentary. It's going to be harder to separate the game from lead designer Troy Leavitt, however, after it was discovered the industry veteran had a side-gig as a pro-Gamergate YouTuber.

On Friday, a series of tweets from Did You Know Gaming contributor Liam Robertson gained traction highlighting a snapshot of Leavitt's YouTube channel. While it's been inactive since March 2018, the channel has quietly acquired over 2 million views largely through videos lashing out at feminism and social justice.

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In follow-up tweets, Robertson claims that he's not trying to "cancel" Leavitt. None of this information is particularly private, but he felt it important to share to help people make more informed choices over whether to support Hogwarts Legacy. The replies also summarise a video Leavitt made in defence of John Lasseter, dismissing the sexual assault allegations against the former Pixar boss—who left his position in 2017 in response to the scandal—and the wider #MeToo movement as a "moral panic", while noting that Lasseter was "personally nice" to him during development of the Cars 2 licensed game.

At just under 26,000 subscribers, Leavitt's channel isn't overwhelmingly popular. But it also isn't hidden, with the designer still linking to it in his Twitter bio. In a 2018 video titled "Bushnell did nothing wrong", he explains that publisher WB Games was not only aware of, but completely unfussed by his video output when he was hired at Avalanche.

"I’m happy to say that, even though I disclosed my YouTube channel to WB Games, it didn’t appear to be an issue for them," said Leavitt. "Not that they endorse anything that 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."

For many, Hogwarts Legacy was already tainted. Despite an official FAQ insisting that the story was crafted without input from Rowling, whose sharp turn into transphobia has shattered many long-time Potter fans' love of the series, WB Games declined to comment when Kotaku asked whether the author will be paid royalties. 

PC Gamer has reached out to WB Games for comment.

Natalie Clayton

20 years ago, Nat played Jet Set Radio Future for the first time—and she's not stopped thinking about games since. Joining PC Gamer in 2020, she comes from three years of freelance reporting at Rock Paper Shotgun, Waypoint, VG247 and more. Embedded in the European indie scene and having herself developed critically acclaimed small games like Can Androids Pray, Nat is always looking for a new curiosity to scream about—whether it's the next best indie darling, or simply someone modding a Scotmid into Black Mesa. She's also played for a competitive Splatoon team, and unofficially appears in Apex Legends under the pseudonym Horizon.