5 Ways the New Harry Potter Thing Will be Immediately Ruined
This past weekend, J.K. Rowling announced the creation of Pottermore, a new online Harry Potter community for fans of Harry Potter novels or online communities (but not both). Features of the site will include the ability for users to choose their own "magical" username, and a quiz that promises to sort each user into the appropriate Hogwarts' House.
Oh great. The wiener house.Beyond that, how extensive this community experience will be is still unclear. A feature list has been provided (see below), but it's pretty light on details, especially on the community features. So a single chatroom with "magicy" fonts isn't outside the realm of possibility. Then imagine 10,000 kids and 70,000 sexual predators simultaneously typing in exclamation points shaped like lightning bolts and you should have a pretty clear idea of what to expect. Horribly punctuated shrieking is just one reflection of the problem inherent with all online communities -- the online community itself. A fanbase is a wonderful thing to have when it's out "there" somewhere. Really anywhere but "here." But Rowling might be in for a shock once the real world starts to get involved with her perfect little clockwork universe when she realizes a universal truth: The real world is full of jerks. Because those jerks love reading about themselves, and because I'm desperate to please, I've summarized a list of ways these fellows will jerk up, down, and all around in this Pottermore thing when it eventually comes online later this summer.
#5: Bitching, Oh How They Will BitchAs mentioned above, the feature list for Pottermore looks a little weak thus far. The main user experience is centered around "Moments" which appear to be images of famous Harry Potter locations, featuring links to material written by Rowling that sheds more light on parts of the HP universe. If that all sounds a little disappointing, that's because it's basically the same feature set as Microsoft Encarta 93. Beyond the remedial multimedia experience, there will supposedly be a few interactive portions of the site, though it's still thin gruel. There will be a place for little wizards and witches to submit their own comments, drawings and content, and otherwise interact with the community. Users are also promised the ability to make potions, get in duels and participate in anything else which can be reasonably coded in Flash in a couple hours. Basically, don't look for any gameplay deeper or more complex than what you could find on the side of a Happy Meal that's already been filled in. This is the first big project Rowling has announced since she finished the series, and for it to be a Web 0.4 dumping ground for her to shovel all the notes and trimmings not good enough for her novels is a little insulting.* Expect a heavy portion of the "community experience" to be varying rephrasings of "this sux0rz." *Although as a word-shoveler myself, I will admit to a certain professional envy. I doubt I could attract much interest in a website built around the text file I keep full of unusable Scrooge McDuck incest jokes.
#4: GriefingIf you've got the same neuro-chemical imbalances I do, you'll have flagged the potential for dueling as the most interesting thing in the announced feature list. At least unless it's implemented as a kind of clumsy version of Pong where you bounce "hexes" back and forth with your "wands," which now that I'm nearly done this sentence, feels like it probably will be. But if there is real, player vs. player dueling enabled, a whole realm of emergent-gameplay opportunities open up that can be used to wreck everything for everyone. We already know how this will play out -- wrecking a community isn't a new hobby, not since the Vikings invented player-killing in the eighth century. Here's a summary of existing
#3: Gold FarmingWe know it will be free for users to join the site and peruse most of the content, but whether additional content will be available for money is still unclear. We also don't know whether there will be an in-game economy with Galleons and Knuts and Wizard-Shekels, though at this point, Pottermore doesn't look like a full-fledged MMORPG, so it seems unlikely. Not that the nonexistence of an economy will stop people from exploiting it. Indeed, it could be easier; they won't have to have a legion of Chinese laborers in a warehouse butchering Mandrakes for gold around the clock. And a currency's nonexistence won't prevent it from being sold to at least some of the users whom, lest we forget, will often be eight-years old.
"I just don't understand how an eight-year-old could even qualify for taking out a second lien on a house. I ... You'd better cry! You're in a lot of trouble mister."
#2: Unwanted AdviceThe thing about fans is that they have opinions, like what's wrong with everything you do, and how to do it better. As an example, "stop sucking so much," is one of the most popular bits of advice I get when I receive feedback on my work and clothes from friends and family. So it's an absolute guarantee that Pottermore will be littered with people screaming at Rowling, trying to improve upon flaws they perceive in the HP universe. Claiming Dumbledore didn't actually die, explaining why Snape is actually Harry's dad, why Hedwig shouldn't have died you cruel bitch. As one example, Rowling has promised that new material will be online explaining why the insane rules behind Quidditch are actually completely logical, following the large number of fans who have come up to her to argue about some of the problems they've observed with the Golden Snitch.
Can you spot them all?For the record,
#1: WitchcraftBack when the first few Harry Potter books were released, there were many people who were concerned whether it was appropriate to be promoting dark magic in books that were aimed at children.
"Stay still you little shits."This kind of moral outrage might seem a bit quaint now, in a world where people are awarded their own television shows after leaking sex tapes, but at the time, some people took it very seriously. And we're about to prove them right. Whether it gets taken over by actual Satanists, or just 4chan kids pretending to be Satanists, whatever community features are available on Pottermore will be immediately corrupted to draw pentagrams, hexagrams and sexagrams. Pictures of slaughtered animals texture mapped to robes? You bet. Druidic slurs about Rowling's heritage? Good golly, yes. (Again by me, if no one else. Have to make use of that Druidism minor any time I get a chance.) Faustian bargains with gullible eight-year-olds? This will definitely happen, and the soulless children who result will terrify parents, educators and exorcists for years to come.
"Honey, do you feel anything when you hug Andrew? I'm getting nothing here. It's like he's less of a person."___________
Check out more from Bucholz in How To Accidentally Throw A Furry Orgy Using Craigslist and A Da Vinci Code Sequel Review (By Someone Who Skimmed It).