Former Hogwarts Legacy Senior Producer Troy Leavitt has revealed he quit to help his family; and that it was nothing to do with WB Games or any biased articles about his beliefs.
As previously reported, the game had some controversy surrounding it. Both Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling and Leavitt had been branded as bigots by some.
For Rowling, this was due to her comments on taking issue with an article that used the term “people who menstruate“ to differentiate between women and male to female transgender women. In a post on her website, she described it as dehumanizing, demeaning, hostile, and alienating to women.
When Bloomberg reported Avalanche Software was working on the game before it was announced, their sources claimed developers felt “uncomfortable and sparked private discussions” when studio management did not address the controversy.
Meanwhile, Leavitt had previously run a YouTube channel that discussed politics and gaming. He had been branded as politically “far right” and a bigot by some journalists and news outlets due to the opinions expressed in these videos.
This included being critical of the mainstream media coverage of GamerGate, “social justice” political beliefs, feminism, the generalization of gamers as toxic, Anita Sarkeesian, the Me Too movement (believing some cases’ validity to be dubious, and calling it a “moral panic”), and left wing political beliefs.
In one video from 2018, Leavitt claimed that his employers WB Games were aware of his channel, and did not object to its content. “Not that they endorse anything that I’ve said of course,” Leavitt explains, “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.”
Recently anonymous employees speaking to Bloomberg claimed that players would be allowed to create transgender characters. A few days later, Leavitt announced he would be leaving Avalanche Software. He stated he had “nothing but good things to say about the game, the dev team, and WB Games,” and would be producing a video to discuss the matter further.
That video has now been published, titled “To My Friends at Avalanche” (an edited recording of a Zoom presentation). The title is sincerer, as Leavitt speaks as if he were talking to his colleagues at Avalanche.
Leavitt acknowledges that the timing of many news outlets discussing his YouTube channel and branding him a bigot or as hateful may have given the wrong impression of why he left. However, it seems those articles had nothing to do with it.
Leavitt shows his resignation letter, explaining a difficult situation with his family has seriously deteriorated, became “chronic,” and likely to be high maintenance for the foreseeable future.
The family matter in question began in January 2020, and Leavitt had told Avalanche HR in April 2020 that he planned to retire in August 2020. This would allow him to move to Nervada to help his family. As discussions continued, Avalanche proposed Leavitt could work remotely after he had moved. Leavitt had taken time off work from mid-August 2020 to mid-October 2020.
At the start of February 2021, things took “a sharp turn” with the family, and Leavitt told Avalanche’s management team of the situation, and was considering retirement again. Leavitt highlights how all of this occurred before the articles about his alleged beliefs were published.
Leavitt praises WB Games for aiding him in his transitions and dealings with family. He also states once again that WB Games reviewed his videos in 2018 (when he first joined Avalanche) and had no objections; everything fit within their social media policy, and they did not endorse it.
WB Games also did not object to the two videos Leavitt made while working at Avalanche. Leavitt emphasizes that WB Games did not pressure him into retirement after the articles were published. “Not in the least,” and they continued to support Leavitt.
Discussing the press articles themselves, Leavitt expresses how it is curious they were focused purely on a civil expression of his ideas and opinions he had expressed up to five years ago, that authors or outlets had deemed “wrong.” There was no instigating incident either, nor accusations of misconduct, criminal behavior, HR scandal, or even “mean tweets.”
Leavitt states the articles “sure feels like” cancel culture (publicizing an alleged opinion on act a person performed in order to cause harm to their quality of life; such as being alienated or fired). He also condemns the notion of it being “consequences” for his actions, as that would have required accurate reporting.
Leavitt then explains the difference between “Responsible Press” and “Propaganda Press.” In short, he states the articles against him felt like they prioritized a narrative over the facts, used vague labels to smear his name, used no supportive evidence for their claims, and was one sided- all propaganda techniques.
The outlets in question include Gamerant, Kotaku, Fanbyte, Screenrant, PCGamer, VG24/7, The Metro, Cog Connected, GameSpot, PSU, DailyDot, Pink News, CBR, Stevivor, DBLTAP, Somag, SVG, VGC, NME, Happy, GamesIndustry.biz, Input, CGM, Indiewire, Gameworld, and BoingBoing. Leavitt notes only Polygon had done some fact-checking, while the others had echoed each other’s work.
Leavitt criticizes how the articles also portrayed him as the Lead Developer; while his LinkedIn profile states he was only a Lead Designer until March 2019. He was then a Senior Producer until he left Avalanche.
Editor’s Note: Niche Gamer is also guilty of this. We have now edited our prior articles [1, 2] covering this story, along with an Editor’s Note of the correction.
Leavitt proposes the cause of this confusion (aside from non-existent fact checking), was a singular tweet by a freelance journalist. This is seemingly where the originator of the attention on Leavitt came from.
The articles also attempted to brand Leavitt as alt-right, anti-feminist, misogynistic, racist, a bigot, and more. Leavitt condemns these “broad smearing labels,” as the contents in his videos does not expressing those ideals.
The articles themselves had merely alluded to the video’s content, and Leavitt proposes they had not been watched by the authors, as some of his work would disprove those labels; such as The Joy of Wrong, Games lead the Way, Shapiro’s Excluded Middle, and more.
Leavitt had discussed equity feminism positively, and condemned misandrist feminism. He also states he recommended other YouTube channels who he felt were “doing a much better job than, say, Feminist Frequency was.”
Leavitt states his appreciation of those who defended him on YouTube, both large and small. He also praises the small channels, as their work is out of passion, and closer to what a general sentiment might be. He also praises those who watched his works to analyze and dissect.
While Leavitt states he would expect outlets to publish retractions, corrections and apologies for their work, he imagines Propaganda Press will instead double down, blame Leavitt or others, misdirect, and malign him those who supported him.
Regarding Rowling’s comments, Leavitt explains there are points he agrees and disagrees with, and her explanations were well throughout and calm. As such, she deserved conversation, not cancellation.
Leavitt explains he is now “comfortably retired,” and does not need to work again. While family comes first, he may enter indie development several years in the future. He may also return to videos, and is continuing to work on the next book in his Hymn of Shadows epic fantasy series.
Leavitt semi-jokingly challenges his former colleagues at Avalanche Studios to release Hogwarts Legacy before his next book. He also praises the studio as the best to work on the game, thanks to “world-class talent,” prior work on Disney Infinity showing they can handle major IPs, and how the developers are focused on “really good gameplay and what is right for the player without trying to push any other agendas into the game.”
He asks fans to not be disheartened by his leaving, nor the articles that have or “may continue” to come out. “I think there’s a certain aspect of our press that is motivated to try and harm the game.”
Some of the aforementioned outlets had previously been involved in GameJournoPros [1, 2] a Google Groups mailing list where gaming journalist had seemingly colluded on how to cover certain stories, censored stories critical of their own members, blacklisting, and blackballing.
This lead to the failure to disclose whether game developer Zoe Quinn had (as her ex boyfriend claimed) slept with journalists who later gave positive coverage to her game (dubbed The Quinnspiracy in its early days).
After this was discussed at large, those outlets seemingly colluded to produce editorials condemning gamers overall (“Gamers are Dead” [1, 2]); specifically the older generation of gamers in favor of a younger audience less likely to hold “outdated” ideals. 19 articles came out across August 29th, 2014, to September 1st, 2014.
While the GameJournoPros list was not known at the time, many felt this was an act of collusion. Combined with the Quinn controversy, and respect for gaming journalism at a then all time low (praising terrible games while condemning those only guilty of fan-service), the GamerGate consumer revolt was born.
Some of these outlets are still accused by some on social media of being “woke.” This includes having a hard left political bias, revulsion at fan-service and Japanese developed games utilizing an anime art-style, and condemnation of right-wing and even non-left wing beliefs as bigoted or hateful.
Hogwarts Legacy launches 2022 for Windows PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.
Image: Hogwarts Legacy via Twitter.