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Rowling reinvents Hogwarts online

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By Claire Hassan, Written for Nexus

Alex Wolfe was tired as she prepared to turn off her computer and go to bed. As she began to log out of her email, however, something caught the sophmore’s eye. One new message had just appeared in her inbox. Curiously, she looked to the subject line and suddenly her exhaustion vanished.

“I saw the word Pottermore, and I think I screamed,” remembers Wolfe, “then my sister ran in and we both started jumping up and down. We were freaking out, and I was like ‘Finally!’”

Harry Potter fans across the globe are eager for the public release of Pottermore.com, a unique online reading experience where fans can rediscover the magical world of Harry Potter. Author J.K. Rowling created and designed the website to provide the “digital generation” with a new way to experience the books through interesting new facts, character back stories, and even a Hogwarts simulation in which readers can experience their own version of Harry’s story by becoming Hogwarts students. While Rowling has said that registration to the public will begin around the end of October and continue in phases throughout the rest of the year, early access to the site was granted to a few lucky fans in early August, through a process that sparked the excitement of “Potter heads” around the world, including those at Grady. These lucky fans were able to experience J.K. Rowling’s latest work of genius before it opened to the rest of the “Muggle” population.

Over a seven-day period, excited applicants answered clues to find the “Magic Quill,” which finally led to the registration page, where only a limited number of fans could register each day. Grady alumnus and devout Potter fan Emma Powers was one of these lucky few. On the third day of early registration, Powers set her alarm for 5 a.m. so that she could be one of the first to apply.

“It was like Christmas, waking up and seeing the clue, and trying to figure it out,” says Powers, who not only made an account for herself, but also for a few of her closest friends and fellow Potter lovers. After registering, applicants were told they would receive an email that would give them access to the site. Day after day, eager fans waited for the email.

“Immediately after I applied, I was checking my email all the time really apprehensively, thinking ‘any day now,’” Wolfe said, “but I gave up after a week or two.” After weeks of anticipation, however, the long-awaited message finally arrived in her inbox. Around early September, Grady students and other applicants in the Atlanta area began receiving emails.

“I think I probably squealed,” said Powers, one of the first Grady Potter heads to gain access to the site, “I don’t quite remember [what I did]. I was just so excited!” The email message provided a link where new members could log on and begin to explore the world of Pottermore.

The website itself is made up of chapters from the books that each hold different activities based on information from the books and on newly provided information from Rowling. Some of the most popular parts so far are the personalized wands and, of course, the sorting. For both of these, members fill out a detailed quiz and then are assigned a personalized wand and house.

“There are lots of questions, and they’re all very good questions. They aren’t obvious,” Powers said. “You take other sorting quizzes [on fan websites online] and it’s like ‘What’s your favorite color? Red, green, yellow, or blue?’ and you’re like, ‘Come on! I’m not a Slytherin because I like green!” Powers was sorted into the Slytherin house and is very satisfied with her placement. “I’ve always secretly believed I was a Slytherin, even when my friends said I was a Ravenclaw. But the sorting hat knew.”

Another unique part of Pottermore is the graphics. Each “moment” intricately illustrates a place or scene from straight out of the books. Some of them even move and have interactive qualities.

“I think one of my favorite parts of the whole experience is just realizing that Harry Potter isn’t over, that there is this whole new world to explore,” Wolfe says. As Rowling says in her Pottermore announcement video, Pottermore is a gift to her fans, “an opportunity to say thank you, because no author could ask for a more wonderful, diverse, and loyal readership.”

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Rowling reinvents Hogwarts online