Pottermore. (I should note, this is vaguely about my reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.)
Yes, I could hardly leave out my exploration of JK’s epic series without considering the full media juggernaut (don’t worry, I intend to discuss the movies).
Right now, I’m focusing on the website. Holy integrated marketing Batman! I think the people who thought this up use flash buzz words, wear whatever the modern day Don Draper would rock, and carry on the tradition of shit-faced by noon on Friday (at least that’s the way it used to go down at my dad’s job). It is very well done.
Let’s start with what it is: smash together Facebook (because there’s a social aspect plus some FarmVille qualities) and those old-school “point and click” adventures plus a few of those “Find your inner animal/mythical creature/sex goddess” quizzes, and you’ve got an idea of what it is. You can either interact with illustrations of the story, or play some mini-games.
The illustrations are very interesting to me. They include a brief quote from the book (and lots of links where you can jump over to buying the book) plus additional information Rowling wrote about the books. Sometimes the information is pretty interesting (like what she wrote about the Pureblood movement), but more often than not I’m amazed at how detailed this universe is in her head. One thing you realize reading her talking about the books is that she really did write what she knew, in a way. She drew a lot of inspiration from real life.
I also suspect the people involved in directing the design of the illustrations knew their psychology. All the faces are very vague, something which I imagine was done on purpose. When you read a book, you picture the characters a certain way (although in Prisoners of Azkaban there’s a very kabuki-ish illustration of Snape). These illustrations don’t interfere with your mental picture. The include things to find and places of interaction (generally a small animation triggered by a mouse-over). On the bottom there’s a progress bar, telling you if you’ve missed any objects or animation. And yes, like the goddamn mammal I am I want to make sure that bar is full! Thank goodness for the comments, as the often note where things are tucked away.
As far as the other aspects of the game, I’ve done the two quizzes (wand and sorting, Ravenclaw in case you were curious, although you can shape your answers to get sorted into a desired house, like Slytherin). I haven’t done many of mini-games. I made a potion once, and it was annoying, requiring you to do tasks in a specific time range and incorporating an incubation period (three minutes of nothing). The duels seem likewise annoying and are based tapping letters on the keyboard at specified times. It’s kind of “meh” for me.
I do have one overwhelming impression of Pottermore, gleaned form the videos where J. K. Rowling takes a minute to speak to us about sorting to her houses. I’m listening to her words and thinking to myself, “Goddamn is this woman tired of these books, and she still has four more to go for Pottermore.” It in fact reminds me of what the raven actually said: Nevermore. Hanging out with my sister’s kids, they were fantasizing about Rowling revisiting the universe, and I told them it’s not going to happen. She wrote seven books and helped make eight movies. She adopted a new pen name. She’s moved on.
Part of me wonders what will end up happening with Pottermore. It seems to me that people may become impatient, given the time it’s been out and the fact that only the first three books are done. I don’t know how much it supplements or enhances the reading experience. I like it because I like playing stupid games. Will I finish the series and then come back for the other four books? Probably, because it’s a free game in ways, and I do find some of Rowling’s exclusive material to be interesting. Or I’ll forget about it.
As far as finishing the series, I liked the third book more than the second, and the fourth movie (The Goblet of Fire) is my favorite movie, so it might be my favorite book too. I’m looking forward to it. Rowling’s comedic violence reminds me a lot of Dickens.