When J.K. Rowling announced Pottermore–an interactive annotated guide to the Harry Potter series–last fall, I was skeptical. What could be the draw for anyone but the most dedicated fan? It’s fan service from the biggest fan of the series herself.
No one is as consumed with the Harry Potter series as the author herself. Rowling spent seventeen years working on the seven mega hit novels. As she reveals in Pottermore, she even created what she calls “ghost trails”–side plots for major characters that didn’t even come close to making the final edits of the books. Her universe is so well-planned and researched that she sometimes forgets these side stories are not common knowledge.Pottermore is where the world of Harry Potter will really come to life. The films added a visual, the games interaction, and the theme park physical presence, but Pottermore is opening up the universe beyond Harry’s experience. Ever wonder how Harry’s Aunt and Uncle grew to hate him so much? What about the real origin of Professor McGonagall’s distaste for Slytherin? Or a history of how Olivader’s Wand Shop knows exactly which wand a wizard needs?
These are not random little tidbits being thrown out to earn money. For one thing, Pottermore is a free website that anyone can join. No, these are fully developed ideas that Rowling very easily could have turned into additional books. She already did that with The Tales of Beedle the Bard and Quidditch Through the Ages. Pottermore is fan service of a unprecedented scope.
Pottermore is an interactive online community with gaming elements. It’s not quite an MMORPG as I predicted when it was first teased, but it’s close. You explore all the various settings of the novels chapter by chapter. You interact with objects to find additional information and stories from J.K. Rowling.However, once you get past Harry’s humble beginnings, you become a part of the story. You are the newest student at Hogwarts and you have to get ready for your first year. You buy your books and supplies, receive your wand, and get sorted into your house. You can earn points for your house through various tasks. Maybe you’ll excel at wizard dueling or potion making. Perhaps your eye will complete collections of items for bonuses. It’s up to you.
The only rule in Pottermore is that you have to follow the story in order. You can’t jump to the final chapter until you’ve explored the entire first novel. The locked features open in a specific order. Once content is unlocked, you can always go back and explore further.
I would not consider myself a big Harry Potter fan by any means. I read the books (to a point) and saw the films (all but the last three on TV or DVD). I am, however, having a good bit of fun exploring Pottermore. It’s a clever supplement and one that will only keep growing as they add on the rest of the series book by book.
So are you joining Pottermore? Sound off below.