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Sorrel’s Side Quests: We need to talk about 'Hogwarts Legacy'

There’s been a lot of debate about video game boycotts over the last couple of years. In the wake of horrific allegations of workplace abuse at studios like Activision Blizzard, prospective players have rightly wondered whether or not it’s even ethical to buy certain games. It’s a difficult conversation. Many of the victims of abuse are people who directly work on these games, and there’s often a bit of push-and-pull when it comes to the fact that supporting these victims by enjoying their art is also supporting the companies that put them in fraught and dangerous positions.

This is not the case for “Hogwarts Legacy.” The upcoming “Harry Potter” prequel is being developed by Avalanche Software, a studio with no known history of overworking employees, sexual harassment, racial discrimination or any of the other myriad problems facing the games industry. In fact, aside from publishing almost exclusively terrible licensed games, Avalanche Software has an uncommonly clean history.

So why are calls for a boycott surrounding “Hogwarts Legacy” in the run-up to its release? The cause is simple (and obvious to anyone who’s been keeping track of “Harry Potter” over the last few years.) It’s J.K. Rowling. Let’s not mince words– J.K. Rowling is a transphobe of an especially malignant type. She has, in the past, implied that autistic individuals are not fit to define their own gender identity. She has repeatedly directed harassment towards specific transgender women like India Willoughby. She is a vocal critic of Scotland’s proposed gender identity reforms. Most disturbingly to me, she recently helped finance a rape crisis center that explicitly refuses entry to transgender women, stating that trans women were “well-served” in the area due to the presence of one other crisis center (apparently, this is too little for cis women and just enough for trans women).

Two facts demand to be understood here: J.K. Rowling is a particularly influential transphobe and J.K. Rowling stands to make an awful lot of money off of “Hogwarts Legacy.” As the joint owner of the “Harry Potter” brand, Rowling will almost certainly make royalties from the game’s sales. There is no separating these facts. They are inextricably linked. Supporting “Hogwarts Legacy” is supporting Rowling.

I am not here to demand a boycott of “Hogwarts Legacy.” I will not be playing it and this is the only thing I’ll be writing on the topic. In addition to my own issues with Rowling as a trans woman, I also think the game looks a little awful and Avalanche Software’s development history is not especially promising. Why would I compromise my own beliefs for a game made by the developers of “Meet the Robinsons” on GameCube? I only want to define what’s happening here. It is not possible to divorce “Hogwarts Legacy” from J.K. Rowling. While she is not on the game’s creative staff, she does co-own the property and any financial success from that game is financial success for that individual.

I also recognize that J.K. Rowling is rich enough to eat diamond rings without noticing a dent in her net worth. Your $60 will probably not have a significant impact on her livelihood. I’m not going to pass any moral judgment on anyone who does or does not choose to play a certain video game. If you’re that desperate to see what’s next from the developers of “Hannah Montana: Spotlight World Tour,” then go ahead and play “Hogwarts Legacy.”

Sorrel Kerr-Jung is a sophomore studying virtual reality game development at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Sorrel by tweeting her at @sorrelkj.

Sorrel Kerr-Jung

Opinion Writer

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