Pottermore, A New Online Experience
Release Date: October 2011
by Matthew F. Hibben
In the digital online age of entertainment we are seeing the shift of media more and more into social networks and MMO's. This type of entertainment offers users an experience that is able to change, grow, and even evolve to fit the needs of the audience partaking in its content. So what happens when you take the fastest growing format of entertainment and mix it with one of the most successful franchises in film and books? You get Pottermore. Pottermore is a new online experience brought to us by J.K. Rowling, based on the Harry Potter series. This week's Game Tech article explores the Beta version of Pottermore.
What is Pottermore?
Pottermore is at its core an online reading experience, but it is also more than this. Imagine taking a social network, an author's unpublished notes, mixing that with the interactive nature of an MMO, and that is what Pottermore brings to the table. Rowling takes the user into the world of Harry Potter, beyond simply publishing the notes, and possibly opening a new genre of interactive literature.
Let's take step back for a moment and examine at a very primal level what Pottermore is. Pottermore at its fundamental level is a publication of Rowling's previously unreleased material based on the Potter universe. Now Rowling could have simply published this in a traditional hard copy format and made yet another small fortune. For those that are unaware of Rowling's success and net worth, she is a Billionaire, and for an author that is unheard of. Instead of selling this material she is giving it away for free, as well as providing it in an interactive manner. This could very well be the birth of a new way of thinking about literature distribution.
The Beta version of Pottermore allows the user to explore in an interactive manner the first Harry Potter book. Users explore from chapter to chapter each event that took place. People exploring Pottermore will take from this experience things that go beyond the book, by experiencing dynamic events like being sorted into a house, producing potions, learning spells, and engaging in duels. The dynamic qualities of Pottermore provide the magic of the gaming experience that fans of the books will love. It is an experience that can be built upon where new activities and events can be added into the world of Pottermore as it is created.
Beyond the Beta
Now I want to talk about Pottermore in the context of a Beta. For those that may be unaware of what "Beta" means, Beta is a developer's term signifying a project that is still being developed. Pottermore Beta is missing a few things that I am sure will be added later, including some things like full fledged wizard dueling. I was able to get into the Beta during the first day of the launch and this feature had been disabled. Wizard dueling and potions making seem to be the only persistent activities that players can engage in. I am absolutely convinced this will expand greatly once Pottermore goes live in October. Things like dueling, Quidditch, expanded potions making are all things I'm sure are in the works. Keep in mind also that this is just the first book, and with each new book added to Pottermore new events and activities will be sure to follow.
I will certainly be interested to see what Pottermore evolves into, but for fans of Harry Potter I am sure that Pottermore will be a welcome delight.