Pottermore: First impressions of the new interactive Harry Potter site

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We all enjoyed the story of Harry Potter and his progressive battles against fosterage, puberty, and a noseless supervillain, but what readers—especially, but not limited to, younger ones—really loved about the series was the ability to immerse themselves in a world of everyday magic, of charm spells, enchanted clocks, and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. How many kids at one point or another pulled a Veruca Salt, demanding of their parents, “But mummy and daddy, I want an invitation to Hogwarts, now!” Forget Santa Claus, for a whole generation of children the real heartbreaking revelation was that we’re all Muggles and that’s all we’ll ever be.

While it won’t let you apparate or play Quidditch (there are leagues for that already), J.K. Rowling’s new interactive website Pottermore will at least let you experience some of the fun of living in the world of Harry Potter. It’s still in beta and doesn’t open to the general public until October, but Pottermore is rolling out early access to the one million fans who qualified for it, and we were lucky enough to get an account.

First things first, for those who were worried that this would be just the skeletal frame of a game used to sell audiobooks or ebooks or plush sorting hats or whatever: it’s not. Even though the site is currently limited to material relating to the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, there’s still more than enough to make your entire afternoon disappear like a temporus suckus spell. You begin your journey by going through various interactive tableaux representing scenes from the book: the arrival of the Hogwarts letters, platform 9 3/4, Diagon Alley. For the most part, there’s not terribly much to do with these at first, other than zooming in and clicking on objects to learn their history and grab some collectible items for your trunk. However, there is actually a decent amount of textual content—including character backgrounds and location histories—that was purportedly written by Rowling herself, and the author promises to reveal a number of other story lines she wrote that never managed to make it into the books themselves.

The real fun comes with the community elements. Once you’re sorted into a house—we got Ravenclaw because we’re smart and boring—you’ll be able to interact with your fellow housemates via a number of activities. Individuals can earn house points in the site-wide House Cup, and you can even engage in a wizard’s duel using your customized wand and the spells you have learned. If potions are more your thing, you can buy all the bezoars and flobberworm mucus you need at Diagon Alley and whip up a batch or two in your cauldron, but don’t overspend or else you’ll find your Gringotts vault empty. All these elements represent the kind of useless but still desperately desired reward system that can turn horribly, wonderfully addictive. It’s hard to tell at this point exactly how addictive when it’s nobody else but us chickens in here, but Pottermore seems especially designed to destroy work productivity the world over.

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  • Samuel

    I’ve never been so jealous in my whole life!!!!!!

    • Liz Lemon

      Agreed. I hope I get my early access soon.

      • Angel

        I send my email about 3 or 4 days when it was announced. And i never got a reply lol.

    • Meetali

      I was runnin around in d house like a maniac when d second email came……only to find 0ut it wasnt d welcome mail…..well….accio!

  • Pam

    Do you have an avatar that you design to represent yourself?

    • Runa

      No, your avatar is your pet that you choose. You’ll have different types of cats, owls, and toads to choose from.

  • O’Brien

    I am so ready to get in. I was lucky enough to get one of the early spots, and I am SO stoked, looking at the stills. It’s almost like getting another book!

  • Noodley

    I’m just waiting to hear that my beta account is good to go! Can’t wait!

  • Becks

    I got one of the early spots too, and I’m literally checking my email as often as I can manage, just waiting to get in!

  • Rachel

    Sounds amazing! Waiting on my Welcome E-mail! Cannot wait!!!!!!

  • Jason

    I got in earlier today. It’s amazing.

    • Kevin

      what day did you get the quill?

      • kaloalo

        i got my email yesterday morning and got the magic quill on day 2 but some of my friends who got it at the same time haven’t gotten their email yet =\

        i thought the sorting and ollivanders quizzes were really fun =)

  • kay

    Im constantly checking my email to see if I can get in yet! I’m so jealous!! Ahhh it sounds amazing!

  • Allie

    omg, I want my welcome email NAO!

  • Kevin

    Will you get the confirmation e-mail in the order of the day you got the quill? I didn’t get it until the sixth day so I’m wondering if it goes the first day, second day, and so forth

    • Christie

      Apparently it’s random, there have been a lot of people who got in today but found the quill on one of the later days. I got the quill on the first day and have yet to see a welcome e-mail!

      • Delilah

        I’m in the same boat as Christie, I found the quill on day 1 and I’ve yet to get my welcome email. My younger sister hasn’t got hers either and she registered on day 1 as well.

        I believe that it’s totally random when we get our emails, but I might be wrong too.

  • Liv

    I’m always in Ravenclaw, be proud. Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure!

  • Tabby

    Don’t say that! Ravenclaws aren’t smart and boring! They’ve got wits, logic, creativity and an eagerness to learn!

    • Michael

      “We got in Ravenclaw because we’re smart and boring.” Hahaha! That’s hilarious! …Oh, relax people, it’s just a joke. We all LOVE HP to death; we can joke about it.

      • Meg

        Hey, at least it’s not Hufflepuff.

      • Michael

        It’s true… for different reasons, Hufflepuff is tied with Slytherin for the worst one! Haha! She tried to set it up so that each house would have its share of positives and negatives, and to be fair, they do, essentially. But let’s face it, 99% of readers would want to be in Gryffindor!

  • Dave

    I want to go to there!

    • Michael

      Yes Liz Lemon aka. Tina Fey’s daughter!

    • Salma

      Jenny the pictures are all AMAZING!!! I can’t beeilve how big all the girls are getting and more beautiful like their Momma every day! I like the hats and scarves too, I bet Ashlynn would be all about one or two =)

  • Kiddo

    Yeah, Luna Lovegood is a Ravenclaw and she is faaaar from boring…

    • B

      Luna’s a Gryffindor……..

      • Jessica

        No, she’s in Ravenclaw, she just highly supports Gryffindor because her friends are in it.

  • Krisen

    omg i am so jealous that you already got your welcome email! i cannot wait for my email it is killing me!

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