Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pottering On

For years readers around the world have dreamt of going to Hogwarts and taking part in the adventures of Harry Potter. It’s a world drenched in mystery and magic that has engrossed millions of fans, thanks to the masterful storytelling of author JK Rowling. Seven books, soon to be eight movies and a theme park later, it looked to be the end of the boy wizard’s adventures. Then Rowling announced Pottermore – an interactive online experience where readers can travel through the books themselves.

After teasing fans last week with promise of a new Harry Potter project, speculation was rife and eyes around the world watched the clock tick down to the announcement – after all, who can resist a good mystery? (Rowling is a master at this, something I’ve written about before). Finally, Pottermore was presented to the world, explained as an “online reading experience unlike any other” – a hybrid of social-networking and gaming, packed with encyclopaedic content… and a new glimmers of magic.

Sisomo will bring the online world to life through a combination of visual effects, detailed imagery and sound. Take a look at Rowling’s short announcement video to get a grasp of just how magical this online universe is shaping up to be. Also note the continuing use of mystery – Pottermore doesn’t open until October, but a lucky few will get a sneak peak by “following the owl…”

What I like about this project is how intimately Rowling is connecting fans with the wizarding world she imagined. On signing up, readers receive their own wands, are sorted into their own Hogwarts house and have their own homepage to return to after virtually venturing into this magical universe. Rowling has also hinted that users themselves will be able to shape what happens on their journey through the books, enabling them to truly make Harry Potter their own.

The author herself will be on active on the site, emptying new content into the corners of this online world. So far over 18,000 words of inside knowledge have made it to the site, and Rowling has promised she will be writing even more for Potter-thirsty fans.

Platforms like this have the potential to reshape the way we think about books, as entire imagined – and magical – worlds are no longer bound to printed pages, or just the glowing screens of e-readers. In true story-telling style it’s AND, AND, AND...

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