Just as Harry Potter fans waited (what felt like) an eternity for each book and movie installment, the wait is finally over for the latest Potter treat: Pottermore, an online experience developed by the author J.K. Rowling, which allows fans to follow Harry’s adventures in the books through this virtual world. Registration for site begins this month, but a group of diehard fans was granted early access to the site as beta testers (including yours truly!).
So if you’ve got a Potter fan in your home who wants to sign up, what can you expect?
Firstly, the game is free and operates on a computer with Internet access, so you don’t need to buy any software or device to use it. Second, J.K. Rowling pointedly said in her video introduction to Pottermore that it’s designed to be a safe online experience that’s really about the books—it’s not a social networking or role-playing game. In fact, when you register, a benign, gender-neutral user name is generated for you, so there’s no risk of accidentally surfacing personal information to other users. You can be friends with other users, but you have to accept their friend request first, and there’s no chatroom space. The site does have Facebook integration if you want to find your Facebook friends who are on Pottermore, or if you want to ‘Like’ a page in Pottermore. Users can also leave comments on pages under their user names.
Once you get into Pottermore, you follow Harry’s journey from the beginning (just like he did!). For now, fans can only travel through the scenes of the first book; scenes from subsequent books will be released at later dates. Younger kids may find this experience a little slow or unexciting, but for older kids who are longtime fans or who are exploring the books for the first time, this online companion is an exciting way to put yourself in Harry’s shoes and get extra tidbits of information on things like the history of the Hogwarts Express, or what type of wood your wand is made of says about you. The fun and games part comes in when you buy your Hogwarts supplies (with wizard money given to you by Pottermore), answer an intriguing questionnaire to sort you into your Hogwarts house, brew potions and cast spells. (You can read up on more FAQs on the Pottermore Insider blog).
Do you have a Harry Potter fan in your house who wants to sign up for Pottermore?