Pottermore: A Partisan Review

Contributed by Harrison Cole

As a self-proclaimed Potterphiliac, I was delighted to be granted access to the Beta version of Pottermore before its opening to the general public. For those who haven’t heard, Pottermore is an interactive website that provides fans with a new way to experience the world of Harry Potter. Users navigate the story of The Boy Who Lived by clicking through picturesque snapshots from each chapter of the series while interacting with fellow fans. The site is scattered with snippets of information, including exclusive content relating to the many characters and places within the wizarding world crafted by J.K. Rowling.

To my surprise, after first logging on I was frustrated with the interface of the site.  Users must begin with Chapter One of The Philosopher’s Stone and move through each of the seven books in chronological order. Within each chapter, content-unlocking discoveries must be made in order to advance. This might be a result of my computer and gaming ineptitude, but I would prefer to read the site at my leisure without spending ten minutes clicking around each page to locate hidden items. Although interesting to the Potter fanatic, the pages within Pottermore provide an excessive amount of detail. This site is not for the casual fan; I doubt there are many itching to peruse the 4,596 words devoted to the types of wood used in wandmaking.

The material unique to Pottermore includes Rowling’s inspiration for certain aspects of the story, and “Ghost Plots” or scenes and events that did not make the final cut of the published novels. The site also adds a personal touch for the fan, providing the opportunity to purchase a wand of their own and don the Sorting Hat to join one of the four houses of Hogwarts.  Pottermore is somewhat reminiscent of a role-playing video game; once sorted, users can earn points for their house by brewing potions, or test their wandwork by challenging others to duel. This competitive aspect should lure users with waning attention spans. Those that are expecting more of a Potter encyclopedia with freely accessible information should keep their expectations low.

Like I mentioned above, I love Harry Potter and as a result will probably end up reading Pottermore cover-to-cover, or whatever the internet equivalent of that may be…even the aforementioned section on wandmaking. But completing the Pottermore journey is a laborious task, and I surmise most people would prefer to enjoy the series without the excruciating additional detail. If I had any sense, I would broaden my horizons by moving on to a new book, but alas, I do not.

Harrison is a human male and a Certified Public Accountant in the state of New York. He lives in Manhattan’s Upper East Side with his collection of Harry Potter novels and memorabilia. You can follow him on Twitter @HarrisonsHuff, if you’re into that kind of thing.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Pottermore: A Partisan Review

  1. Susan

    I am and always have been a huge Harry Potter fan ever since Sorcere’s Stone was first released and then I introduced the books to my children, they are also fans. But I am sorry to say that I am so disappointed in Pottermore. It is slow, tedious and often boring, especially when compared to the original Harry Potter games that were released for Playstation. I know that this site was obviously intended to be more of a reading experience gaining sort of peek into the left out details and background of the books via the mind of author J.K.Rowling. But I would appreciate a site just for that and therefore not be disappointed in the lack luster of the interactive site.

  2. penelope schmidt

    dumb. go experience something new and stop holding onto these books.

  3. Jane

    I was also initially flummoxed by the navigation system.
    It took me ages to work it out, and I am a professional web site designer 🙂

    I am in Australia and find each page incredibly slow to load. This is common when accessing UK sites from Australia, but the loading times are extreme for pottermore.

    I have only progressed through book 1 so far, but feel sadly disappointed so far. It is not really “interactive”, unless interactive means a lot of random clicking.

    I have to say, after the lengthy development time and all the publicity, I was expecting MUCH more.

  4. Philippa

    I have been looking forward to the pottermore site for ages, having read all the books and watched the films – I even have all the audio books on my iPod and love listening to them to relax (Stephen fry is wonderful at the characterisation). But I’m sadly disappointed in the ease of use and navigation of pottermore – the bits I’ve managed to read so far have been great, but I’d prefer to be able to dip in and out of different parts of the book at leisure rather than be forced to follow a proscribed order in line with the books…..I know the books so well I’d enjoy being able to access what I wish rather than what the web designer thinks I should do next…..

  5. CiCiKat

    I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan and also confess to being disappointed. I love reading the background stories and the “ghost plots”, but I truly expected more activities. OK…so I’ve collected some jelly beans, books and whatnot, but there should be more to do than put imaginary chocolate frogs into my imaginary “trunk”. There should be more to do on each individual page. There should be an interactive “help” section – it took me two evenings to find out how to wave my wand. Right now, I’m stuck in chapter 4 of book 2 – can’t go any further and can’t seem to find out when more will be opened. I guess it’s fine for people who only want (yet another) social network so they can chat. Frankly, I think they could have done so much more with this.

  6. I’ve watched all the movies and I’ve been through all the books and I wish there were more books and movies. Why did it have to end?

  7. life source

    Totally amazing, since we can play with the popular character in The Harry Potter and you get to interact in the game. Of course good movies and books or bedtime stories.

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