A number of months ago, J.K. Rowling caused a bit of a media frenzy indicating she had an announcement to make. Many thought it would be new Harry Potter books, a prospect equally loved and loathed by fans.
However, the announcement was the advent of Pottermore, an online interactive Harry Potter experience that would expand the Potter world, with new material from Rowling herself, and the opportunity for fans to help expand the Harry Potter universe. Those that managed to “follow the owl” have been given early access to Pottermore, which opens for general public registration in October. I was lucky enough to follow said owl and find a pre-registration quill, and I went online with 999 999 others today….
To start with, I was not overly impressed. First of all, when registering, one cannot choose their own username. You get a selection of options from which to choose. I am at peace with that now, as I am quite happy to be PhoenixThorn82. Those already aboard, feel free to add me.
The basic structure of Pottermore is that you can examine each book in great detail. It is divided into the book chapters, with animated imaged of key moments to those chapters. In these images are hidden items to collect, such as Chocolate Frog cards, and miscellaneous knickknacks. There is detailed information on each object, location, and character, and if these have a quill, it indicates new material from J.K. Rowling.
I initially was a little bored with it. It seemed a little juvenile, in a point-and-click sense, with a lack of music or sound being a regular complaint in the comments sections. The redeeming feature early on though is the new material from Rowling. This includes more in-depth character backgrounds and some explanation for why some elements were included. This was all that really initially sparked with me. Having read Christopher Tolkien’s twelve book series The History of Middle Earth, in which the author publishes earlier drafts ans unpublished related works of his father, clearly, I have a passion for exploring how intricate these fictional worlds can be.
My early disappointment though was ill-founded. The fun starts with Chapter 5, where we visit Diagon Alley. Here, I have opened my own account with Gringott’s, bought an owl and materials for the school year, and a wand chose me at Ollivander’s (after I was asked seven simple questions. For the record I have a 12.5 inch Elder wood wand with a Phoenix feather core, which has an unyielding rating on flexibility. Not to be confused with THE elder wand, but the closeness of the match is pretty cool. Also, the wealth of information on each of these wand features is incredible, especially the numerous wood options for its construction.
Subsequently, it is little surprise that as we enter Hogwarts itself, we get sorted into houses. I was apparently an unequivocal Ravenclaw, and as this test is Rowling sanctioned, I will accept it over all other Sorting Hat quizzes I have filled out previously online. Even more fun, I have read that some people “confused” the Sorting Hat, so they were given the choice of two houses (fitting, given Harry himself made a choice between Gryffindor and Slytherin). I am now excited to actually be competing for the House Cup, which, last I looked, had Ravenclaw in a narrow lead over Slytherin.
I am only just now scraping the surface of performing spells and making potions, but with each ensuing chapter, more levels and depth to Pottermore are being revealed. I am getting the feeling that this may indeed replace Facebook games as my number one time killer of choice….
J.K. Rowling’s original Pottermore announcement [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5DOKOt7ZF4]