Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pottermore Update... Beta Tester Edition (May contain spoilers!)

*** Note to readers: While I tried not to give too much info away, fans who want to go into the Pottermore experience totally fresh may want to avert your eyes to this post! ***

With about a month to go until Harry Potter fans everywhere can play around and explore til their little hearts desire on J.K. Rowlings Pottermore website, I have had the pleasure of testing out the site early. Like many other advanced access fans, I eagerly (and somewhat nervously) awaited the arrival of my email granting me entry into the site. Every time I tried to sign on hoping that maybe I had just missed the email, frantically checking my spam folders and cursing the gods thinking I may not actually get early access, I kept noticing how bogged down the site was. But with one million people being allowed to play around on the site and (as I learned later), the involvement one could spend on Pottermore, it's not that hard to see why this was occurring. When I finally did get into the site, what awaited me was pretty insane.

Let me just say this: a TON of work had to of gone into making Pottermore what it is so far. It's very involved; from the "moments" fans get to interact with, to the games, duels, potions-making contests, house-sorting, wand-choosing, school-shopping, pet-purchasing, information-included segments (I could go on)... It's an understatement to say that Pottermore could easily eat away an entire evening just going through a few chapters. I was a little confused by the premise of the site itself. I had wondered if it was a place to physically read the books but I'd say Pottermore is more of a companion resource for the books. It's meant to be a place fans can go after reading a chapter in any of the HP books and experience the chapter in an interactive way. A simple summary is provided at the bottom of the "moment," and information on characters and places in a given chapter are accessible via a sidebar on the screen. Someone looking for more detailed information as to what happened in a chapter would be better off physically reading their copy of the book.

Users can zoom in and out on a moment to find items hidden within the layers. Collect Chocolate Frog Cards and other items to add to your trunk, earn points for your House (once you've been sorted that is), and find new tidbits of information provided by Rowling about things not included in the HP books. Ever wondered how Mr. and Mrs. Dursley met? Curious as to the back story of Minerva McGonnagall? These questions and more are answered on Pottermore and can be saved to read later on. Users can link Pottermore up with their facebook accounts to find friends who have accounts and share with other friends and family. There are various interfaces that users can switch between while exploring the site.

All in all, Pottermore can be as involved (or not) as you want it to be. Someone wishing to rush through each book can ignore all the extra information in order to get to the good parts. Or, someone can spend a ton of time going through each chapter, reading and exploring everything before moving on. One nice feature that I really like is the "Favorites" option (which I kind of mentioned above), that allows users to add information to to a place where they can access it later on. When I was rushing to get sorted into my house, the last thing on my mind was reading up on Rowling's background info on the Dursley's so I added it to my favorites to devour later.

It will be interesting to see what changes have been made once Pottermore "hits the shelves" for the general public. But even without any, I can honestly say that this is a pretty special "gift" from J.K. Rowling :)

Snape Approves!!

Snape approves