I am getting distracted. Before you know it, I'll start raving about Ron/Hermione and how Steve Kloves is obviously a Harry/Hermione shipper and, well. Moving on.
So Harry Potter was not yet available in e-book form and J. K. Rowling had all this extra story material lying around. Earlier this year, Rowling and Sony announced they were joining forces to create Pottermore. I wasn't quite sure what Pottermore was really going to end up being, but they were doing a competition for beta spots and I'd be dammed if I didn't get one. It's Harry Potter, after all.
I got my spot on the fourth day of the competition and then I waited for my welcome email to arrive. And waited and waited and waited. They were purposely rolling out the invitations slowly as to avoid crashing the site. My email finally arrived on Saturday morning.
|I admit, I was a little disappointed by how it looked. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I think I wanted it to sparkle.|
|Like this. I've been seeing this message A LOT.|
Somewhere along the line, I read a blog post online where the author compared Pottermore to Facebook games and it really is the same kind of principle. It's basically a hidden image game with a potions component that's similar to waiting for your crops to grow in Farmville. I admit, I thought it was cool when my cauldron exploded from being overheated, but that was due more to really, really poorly written instructions rather than my own incompetence. I relied prettily heavily on the Exploring Pottermore tumblr to make sure I didn't miss anything. The creator behind that tumblr also links to some handy-dandy youtube videos that walks you through the potions.
You can also practice casting spells, but the dueling portion has been removed for the time being, which leads finding stuff and making potions the only way you can collect points for your house. Speaking of which, the Sorting Hat ceremony was pretty damn cool. It asks you seven questions (supposedly, they are different for most users) and based on your answers, you get placed in your house. Now, if you're familiar with the basic tenets of each house, there are some questions that are easy to skew if you want a particular house. For example, one question asked me if I wanted to create a potion that would give the user wisdom, power, love, or glory. However, my very last question showed me a signpost and asked me to pick between left or right. I agonized over this choice. Left or right. In the end, I went with right because I'm right-handed and, therefore, left-brained. My theory was that most people would pick the direction associated with their handness and then the computer would associate that with the appropriate hemisphere of the brain. I may have overthought this a bit, but that's how you know I ended up in the right house.
|It's just what I wanted!|
On the meh side of things, you are pretty limited by what you can explore and collect. The potion ingredients regenerate so you can collect them continually for free, but other than that, once you've picked up that chocolate frog card or book, there's no reason to re-visit a chapter. The graphics are Mary GrandPre's illustrations brought to life. The Whomping Willow in Chapter 13 is amazing. The chapters are divided up into two or three moments, so it's not like you're reading the book as you make your way through Pottermore. Instead, in each moment, you can zoom in three times and the possibility exists for different items or animations at each zoom level. Oddly, there is no sound or music. This might just be a function of the beta release and it's definitely the biggest complaint I've seen so far.
There is additional new material that J.K. Rowling has contributed to the site, most notably a detailed biography of Professor McGonagall. I also enjoyed reading about the Wand lore trivia. You do get chosen by a wand at Ollivander's and I liked seeing what my wand said about me. The wand selection was another set of questions and I think my wand fits me rather well.
|I can't help it, though, I giggle at the description.|