Tuesday, September 16, 2014


When I was a kid, we had a computer. You’d turn it on, and the black and green screen would light up, waiting to be commanded with a MS-DOS prompt. The only thing my brothers and I would use it for was to play Snake, the classic game which everyone has played, and Gorilla, which was an early version of Worms (a game you can still get on the PSN and play on your brand new PS4), only instead of different weapons all you had was an exploding banana―and you had to enter coordinates to make the projectile land as close to your opponent as possible.
We moved on to bigger and better things later, such as Windows 3.1, and later, Windows 95. But all this amazing technology came with the alarming (to my mother, anyway) idea of better graphics and better games. I don’t know what kind of games other kids had, but we had some totally awesome math games (“tessellate; tessellate”), a Mother Goose game where you had to reunite items you found with the nursery rhyme they matched, a totally awesome spelling game that required you to navigate a dangerous arctic scene to collect the letters to a word (in the correct order!) followed by a quick spelling test.
But some of the coolest “games” we had were the interactive story books. We only had a couple of them: The Tortoise and the Hare and a few Arthur books (that I was really too old for). It was just like sitting down to read a regular book, except that no matter how you manhandled the pages of a book, the pictures wouldn’t move or make noises. Clicking on certain things in a Living Book made them move, or squeak, or run away. It was always fun to poke around at the pictures to see what would happen, and if you got bored doing that, the words of the story were on every page, and you could click every single one. Even though I already knew how to read and thought the stories were kind of silly, discovering all the silly things you could do was really fun.
The Pottermore logo, which I found on the wiki.
J.K. Rowling made sure that her Harry Potter website Pottermore would be fun for fans of all ages. The interactive scenes from the books have things to click on and hidden items to collect, but it doesn’t read you the entire book from start to finish. Instead, you are encouraged to read the book while you enjoy Pottermore. It reminds me of those Living Books from when I was a kid, but the interactive scenes aren’t all there is to Pottermore!
As you follow Harry through the story, you get to experience things as he experiences them. Not only does it mean that you get to watch Hagrid knock down the door of the Hut on the Rock, but it also means that you get to visit Ollivander’s, and take a quiz that gets you your own wand. It means that you get to open Chocolate Frog cards with Ron on the Hogwarts Express and nervously wait your turn to get sorted (another quiz).
After that, you can start to earn points for your house. This is done by finding items in teh interactive scenes, brewing potions (which, as a Ravenclaw, I am particularly good at), and duelling (which I am horrible at).
Pottermore is a fan experience, not a social network. Sure, you have a friends list and can add whomever you like to it. But you can’t post pictures or even choose your own screen name. Since many Harry Potter fans are children, Rowling made sure that Pottermore would be a safe and courteous place for everyone. When you sign up, you get to choose from a short list of Potterish screen names; no one on Pottermore is “RudeDude420,” instead we all have names like “QuillSnitch,” “WildMoonstone,” and “BronzeMahogany.” And while there are plenty of places to write comments, anyone who is rude or vulgar is immediately “asked to leave.”
The Ravenclaw crest
(which I also found on the wiki)
I get an email from the website periodically, whenever more scenes are added or a major event is about to take place. Today I got a reminder that the House Cup will soon be awarded. Hufflepuff is leading Ravenclaw by 200,000 points, so I need to get to brewing some potions and finding some items (and avoiding the duelling club, where I would only give away points to my opponents).
Pottermore is just fun (whether or not I can help win the House Cup). It’s a safe, enjoyable environment where I can have a good time with fellow fans. And it reminds me of the awesome games I played as a kid.
If you like Harry Potter, or interactive story books, or both, I highly recommend Pottermore. Come get sorted into Ravenclaw and help us take the House Cup!

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