Danny Rehr
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How Hogwarts Legacy Scaled the Harry Pot ...

How Hogwarts Legacy Scaled the Harry Potter Universe

Feb 12, 2023

Photo by Cederic Vandenberghe on Unsplash.

(For those who plan to play the video game, but have not yet, there will be no spoilers in this blog post. Feel free to read on.)

I'm a big fan of author, J.K. Rowling's, Harry Potter stories. The related video game, Hogwarts Legacy, has been worth following. What I've learned since its release has been mesmerizing like the canon, but in a different way. The game has seemed an acquisition that scaled beautifully to Harry Potter enthusiasts old and new.

According to the game's website, "J.K. Rowling was not involved in the creation of the game...This is not a new story from J.K. Rowling, however we have collaborated closely with her team on all aspects of the game to ensure it remains in line with the magical experiences fans expect." [1] There is definitely an authenticity to the game's setting and world.

The Strategy of Hogwarts Legacy

Image freely downloaded from the pre-release 'Wallpapers' pack from hogwartslegacy.com, via Avalanche Software and Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.

How might the game's developers invite not just gamers, but staunch Harry Potter addicts to cherish the experience, both discover and use the magic, and remain faithful to Rowling's books and vision?

What has been the source of such wonder is the storytelling.

Past Harry Potter readers and movie watchers will instantly recognize the domain, immerse themselves in the wizarding world setting, and believe that this is all part of what they've known all along.

New fans will experience it all anew, just without the supplemental Harry Potter story itself. So far as I've experienced the game via YouTube (courtesy of the inimitable Brad Colburn's, theradbrad channel), there aren't any Harry Potter spoilers. Fans of the game who haven't read the stories will find the books and movies fodder for more entertainment.

And what is that entertainment? It's the familiar activities: breaking rules, mischief, flying, casting spells, searching the castle, using magical objects, spotting magical creatures, learning magic, roaming the magical world, meeting other Hogwarts students and more, and uncovering secrets.

Activity-System Map for Hogwarts Legacy

Readers and podcast listeners of my Mapping Strategy blog post will recognize the form of an activity-system map. For a refresher and for new audience members, I explained.

From Michael E. Porter's 1996 Harvard Business Review, "What Is Strategy?," article:

Activity-system maps can be useful for examining and strengthening strategic fit. A set of basic questions should guide the process. First, is each activity consistent with the overall positioning - the varieties produced, [and] the needs served...?... Second, are there ways to strengthen how activities and groups of activities reinforce one another? Finally, could changes in one activity eliminate the need to perform others? [2]

My activity-system map for Hogwarts Legacy looks very much the same as a would-be mapping of the Harry Potter books (as a series). The goals would be different, and the strategies to get there may be slightly altered, but the imaginative activities in which Rowling would have readers participate would be very much the same. That's because the Harry Potter series was the startup, if you will. The video game is the acquisition and perpetuation of the product.

And if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

What's Been Scaled?

Avalanche Software didn't simply add another chapter. Nor did they tell a prequel story, which has been made cliché in Hollywood over the past 15-20 years. What the game makers did was tell another story in that same universe. In doing so, they established a free-standing product with a life of its own based on the familiar.

To do that, they

  • Filled in gaps unnecessary to the original tale and made them necessary.

  • Afforded visibility and interaction to where the original series bounded the imagination.

  • Provided decisions with weighted outcomes to players (much like Harry Potter, himself, experienced).

  • Expanded upon the story's territory and made it accessible.

  • Added extensive detail to the environment that really matters to Harry Potter devotees and new entrants.

All in all, what's been scaled is the magical education of the player.

A Personal Note

This blog post is dedicated to my late aunt, Betsy. She was an absolute Harry Potter fanatic. And even though she was not a video game player, she would have so loved this video game.

I've been watching the YouTube videos since the game's early release. At every moment, observing every detail and feeling the excitement of the Harry Potter universe, I cannot help myself. This would have been so wonderful to Betsy. I miss you, Betsy.

[1] “Frequently Asked Questions.” Hogwarts Legacy, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., https://www.hogwartslegacy.com. Accessed 11 Feb. 2023.

[2] Porter, Michael E. "What Is Strategy?". Harvard Business Review, 1996, https://hbr.org/1996/11/what-is-strategy. Accessed 16 Aug 2022.

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