Character creators are frequently criticized for lacking dark skin tones, or for lighting dark skin awkwardly and unrealistically. “Black skin is still a radical concept in video games,” Vice said in 2017 (opens in new tab), for instance. So it felt like waking up on Opposite Day to discover that Hogwarts Legacy is being criticized for its paleness limits.
With an air of self-awareness, a number of commenters have complained on Reddit that the lack of particularly pale skin has kept them from recreating themselves as Hogwarts students.
“I’m Nordic and pale to the point where people sometimes ask if I’m sick or something,” one poster said (opens in new tab). “A bit disappointed that I can’t recreate that.”
A modder wasted no time giving players what they want, producing a Hogwarts Legacy mod called “Paler and Darker Skins for Player Character (opens in new tab),” which has already been downloaded over 11,000 times. As the mod’s name suggests, it also adds darker skin tones, but the deficiency of pale tones was the complaint that led to its creation, and the primary driver of the mod’s success—it was originally just called “Paler Skins for Player Character,” and the darker tones were added later. The mod is currently the most popular Hogwarts Legacy mod on NexusMods.
The lightest skin tone in the default Hogwarts Legacy character creator is indeed somewhat tan compared to the palest humankind gets, at least as it’s rendered on the character creation screen (the characters look slightly different in-game, according to some of the commentary around the issue). The images below show the default paleness and darkness limits on the left, and the modded limits on the right:
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The NPCs populating Hogwarts Legacy are a much more diverse group than the teaching staff and student body from the original movies, at least as far as skin tones go. Like some other popular fantasy works, the Harry Potter series has been extensively criticized for excluding or stereotyping people of color (when it’s not Opposite Day, that is), and that was clearly on the minds of Hogwarts Legacy’s developers. In that context, it could be taken as unpleasantly ironic that there’s a day-one paleness mod, but the great majority of the comments I’ve seen express only a desire to see their own likeness in the game, or to create a Draco Malfoy-like character. (I’ll save my dismay for the inevitable mod that turns Hogwarts into a whites-only school.)
Hogwarts Legacy also includes a trans character, a first for the Harry Potter universe, but the choice has understandably not been seen as a win for representation, and has instead been interpreted as an ineffectual effort to parry the issue of Harry Potter creator JK Rowling’s years-long campaign against trans acceptance. Many have pledged not to buy Hogwarts Legacy due to the author’s political activity, and are encouraging others to boycott it, too, an issue I covered in depth earlier this week.