After months of secretly loathing the Potter community because I didn’t get an early acceptance letter, I finally had a chance this week to try out Pottermore, an interactive web experience that is meant to give a more in-depth look into the characters they know and love. Me being an insane Harry Potter geek, the fan girl excitement got the best of me and I went into this with my expectations way too high.
Before I go off on a rant about what I didn’t like, let’s examine the good stuff. This site looks really nice. One reason it’s taken so long for this site to launch is the focus on getting the artwork just right, and it definitely shows. I particularly love the work they’ve done on each of the house crests, especially on my house (Go Slytherin!) Every chapter lets the player explore the artwork, looking for collectable and clues to unlock the next page, a bit like the old Where’s Waldo books, but so much prettier.
My best experience so far has been the new story content. In each chapter there are hidden items that unlock information and backstories on magical objects, places, and people. Some of the content is more common sense stuff that you should have caught onto when reading the books. But there are a few backstories on some characters, particularly Professor Quirrel and Professor McGonagall, that give an interesting new point of view. I’m quite interested to see what J.K. Rowling will give us regarding some of the other characters later in the series.
Sadly, with the good comes the bad. While Pottermore is off to a good start, this site REALLY needs some work. As soon as I start the game, I find out that instead of making my own screen name, I have to choose from a pre- approved list. I have way too many names and passwords to remember as it is, why are you making my life more complicated?! Then there’s the issue of communication with other players. The common rooms were one of the biggest disappointments for me. There are no house chat rooms, only a message board which is mostly spammed with random people begging for friends. There’s also no way to personally message your friends. If you don’t know the people on your friend list in real life, good luck trying to contact them.
The one thing that’s kept me from being able to fully enjoy Pottermore is the mini games. The games, particularly potion making and spell casting, handle terribly. The controls in potion making are so shaky that the slightest slip up sends your ingredients flying across the screen. And as for spell casting, if you’re not incredibly fast at typing, you’re gonna have a hard time winning duels.
While I’m excited that Pottermore is finally open to the public, all the careless little mistakes make me think maybe this project was a bit rushed. Pottermore has the potential to be just as huge as the Harry Potter books, perhaps even more so because it’s interactive, but the creators really need to take their time and do things right or they risk pissing off us loyal fans. But not to worry, they’ve got plenty time to perfect things, because right now the site only contains material for the first book, The Philosopher’s Stone. So, for all you die hard Harry Potter fans, the wait is far from over, it’s only just begun! Way to get our hopes up, Ms. Rowling.