Harry Potter fans have been waiting on pins and needles for the opening of Pottermore, the online world created by author Jo Rowling, since its announcement early this summer. It won't be available to the public until some time in October but groups of beta testers have been lucky enough to explore the wizarding world early. I gained admission just yesterday.
So, the big question is, is Pottermore worth the wait?
I'm not good at waiting. If there's something I'm interested in, I want to know all about it and I want to know it NOW. Sure, on the outside, I might appear calm but on the inside I'm having a Veruca Salt tantrum.
You can imagine what it was like waiting for my invite after I had secured a beta tester spot. I've loved the Rowling's wizarding world for almost half my life and now I'd get a chance to play in it? GIVE IT TO ME NOW. As the weeks went by and I heard of more and more groups being let behind the metaphorical velvet rope, I was becoming disappointed. I may or may not have tried to enter early more than a half dozen times just in case I had somehow been granted permission but hadn't received the email.
Then, yesterday, the note appeared in my inbox. FINALLY! I'd get to see what all the hype was about. Except, for most of the day, this was all I saw.
I'm guessing the amount of beta testers on the site had overwhelmed Pottermore's servers. When I did make it on, it was slow to respond, making performing tasks like spells and brewing potions difficult if not impossible.
It will be worth the wait, trust me. I feel silly admitting this, but getting a wand and being sorted was extremely satisfying. There are thousands of possible wand combinations with some more rare than others. As with house sorting, your specific one will be based on your answers to a series of questions. My result was a little troubling: 11 inch, surprisingly swishy wand made of yew and a phoenix feather. Sound familiar? I was even a little nervous when it came to house sorting especially after receiving that wand. I think I even held my breath when I hit the final submit button. Thankfully, I ended up in Gryffindor.
The visuals are gorgeous and the site is reminiscent of Jo Rowling's one from years ago with a number of hidden details waiting to be found. I don't want to spoil the experience for anyone, but if you want to see more of the site before it opens, Google around for Pottermore images.
You roughly follow Harry's adventures through the years solving puzzles, performing tasks, and collecting objects. The purpose of some items is much more obvious than others (for example, what am I supposed to do with the salt and pepper shakers?). I would imagine most of the experience will be a little too straightforward and basic for gamers but the challenges aren't really the point of the whole online world. Instead, the objective is to interact in a universe we only previously could passively experience.
The lone aspect of Pottermore that doesn't seem to work well is the social media side. You are almost completely unable to personalize it despite being encouraged to socialize. You cannot pick your name, only choose from five choices. I only remember four of my possibilities: Stone Leviosa, Queen Spirit, Bludger Wolf and Jinx Seer. You also can't indicate your gender or age nor write a summary about yourself on your page. I would guess the measures were put in place to protect any minors on the site from potential predators. It's really only the name thing that I found annoying. Queen Spirit? Yeuck. I went with Jinx.
I can't wait for all the kinks to be worked out and the site is fully functional. I don't care that one of the supposed purposes of Pottermore is to sell Harry Potter related products. It's going to be really fun to explore. In fact, I think the users that have to wait instead of beta tesingt the site are better off because they didn't have to experience the quirks.
I hope to see you all there in October!