Pottermore Brings a Whole New Dimension to the World of Harry Potter

I have a confession to make; I am a huge Harry Potter fan. This may not be too surprising if you know I’m a pretty big nerd. What may be more surprising is I just got into it within the last two years, so I had some catching up to do. But once I read all of the books and saw all of the movies, I wanted more. I started reading interviews with JK Rowling and other websites and came to find that the Harry Potter World is a very well thought out and immersive one with endless depth to the characters. Fans (myself included) wanted a resource where we could tap into that world.

Pottermore gives us that.

So what is Pottermore? From the website:

Pottermore is an exciting new website from J.K. Rowling that can be enjoyed alongside the Harry Potter books. You can explore the stories like never before and discover exclusive new writing from the author.

The site went into private beta on July 31st (Harry’s birthday) and will launch to the public at the end of the month.

Pottermore Homepage

Luckily, Yours Truly managed to get into the private beta and play around with what they have so far. Here’s what I’ve found.

Learn About the Wizarding World

The premise of the site is that you’re experiencing each chapter by clicking through, reading about some important people, places, and things, collecting items, and more.

Hogwarts Express

Each chapter is broken up into sections and each section has 3 depths to it; so double-clicking on one of the sections will take you one layer “deeper.” Moving your mouse to different items will reveal information about that particular item. As you go through each chapter, everything you do is done in real time relative to the chapter; so things you know happen in Book 4 might not apply at that moment if your in Book 1.

Some of this information you will already know, like Dumbledore is the headmaster at Hogwarts. Some of the information will be brand new from JK Rowling’s notes and archive. An example is a story about how the Vernon and Petunia Dursley met, and how JK came up with their names.

New Information from JK Rowling

At the moment, only Book 1, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, is available to go through. I’m guessing this is so people in the beta don’t experience every book before it’s open to the public. There are also concerns about overloading the server.

Become a Student at Hogwarts

As you move through the chapters in Book 1, you will get to experience everything that Harry first experienced, including shopping in Diagon Ally, choosing a wand (or having the wand choose you), and getting sorted into a Hogwarts house (I was very excited when I was sorted into Gryffindor).

Diagon Ally

You also get to learn spells, brew potions, and (eventually) compete in Wizarding Duals with other users.

Wizarding Duals have been undergoing maintenance since I got on the site in late August, so I haven’t been able to try that part out yet.

These sections are pretty well done as there’s more to it than just clicking the right areas of the screen.

Spell Casting

You actually have to learn how to cast spells and brew potions properly and demonstrate a certain level of skill. I like this because it gives the site more of an RPG-esq feel: you get to pick something to become good at.

These are also the things that you gain house points for; successfully brew a potion or win a dual to earn points for your house, edging you closer to winning the House Cup!

Friends, Your Profile, and Other Social Aspects

On top of the site being a game and library of Harry Potter information, Pottermore is also a social network. You have a profile, collect items, friend people, and more.

The Gateway

From the homepage (once you login), you’ll see a progress map with each book, each chapter, where you are, and where you friends are. Each avatar on the map is derived from that person’s house colors and the pet that they chose. When you friend someone you can see their progress, their activities, and the items they collect. You can also send them gifts and challenge them to duals.

You can also visit the Great Hall to see how each House is doing in the competition for the House Cup, see recent Hogwarts activity, and read about the school, the headmaster, and the founders. The same goes for your House’s Common Room. You can see recent house activity, see who’s earning your house the most points, and more.

The Great Hall

As far as your profile goes, you’re able to see your House, your wand, your notifications (delivered via owl), your trunk, and your favorite people, places, and things.

Your trunk includes anything you’ve collected throughout each chapter; items you can use for spells, gifts, and even chocolate frog cards. While it does have your “school” books in it, I do wish you could read from them, even if it’s just a small blurb.

Your Trunk

Your favorites are pretty much your bookmarks on the site. You can favorite anything you read or even entire chapters to easily access them later. I think this was a really nice touch since there is sure to be a ton of new information that will be released.

Safety First

One interesting feature of the site is that you don’t get to choose your username- the site gives you a few options to choose from. This is due to the fact that they expect a lot of younger kids (not 26 year old men) to use the site and they wanted to keep their users safe. Nicely done!

Conclusion

Obviously, the site is incredibly in-depth and I’ve just scratched the surface, but I did cover what I thought were the important parts. I’m really excited to see what else unfolds on the site. While it does have some kinks to work out (more than once I’ve gone to the site and it was down because of too much traffic), overall they did a really great job in combining this website into a social network, game, and wealth of information for any Harry Potter fan. It’s an interesting extension of the book series, and an example of ways authors can broaden their horizons into the world of web apps. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, this site is a must.


Summary

Pottermore is an exciting new website from J.K. Rowling that can be enjoyed alongside the Harry Potter books. You can explore the stories like never before and discover exclusive new writing from the author.

  • Pottermore  | 
  • free  | 
  • JK Rowling & Warner Bros.
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  • Vladan

    Pretty suprised to see review for Pottermore here – as the fellow Harry Potter fan, I agree with you, the review is nicely done.

    • Joe Casabona

      Glad you like it! I’m excited to see what they have in store for the other books!

  • http://tumblr.mrtwentyfour.com Mr.Twenty Four

    This has to be one of the best interactive sites I’ve seen in a long time. For the fact that they’ve been so determined to carry on the legacy of the movies, better yet, the books! I find this inspiring as also a Harry Potter fan myself. I would personally relate them an 11. Yes, I said 11!

  • http://pottermorefieldguide.com/ John

    Very nice review of Pottermore
    Is the lack of music bothering anyone ?

    i think it will be really great if there is some magical musical score in the site

    • Joe Casabona

      I personally don’t mind the lack of music since I’m usually listening to my own, but I can definitely see a score (maybe the ones from the movies) adding to the experience!

  • http://www.boulstream.com steakalive

    I’m fond of Harry Potter! thank you for this review, its awesome!

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