Along with the books came the sites. While the books let the imagination rolling, the sites let one virtually delve into this woven imagination. The interactive platform garnered an alternative universe, where there was no Leavesdon studio, it was just Hogwarts castle and where destruction of any bridge was no result of careless construction, but the wrath of death eaters.
The websites were those threads that connected the harry potter fans globally to form a pretty chain. “Once the chapters of the book are done, a new chapter is opened – that of discussions,” says Nikitaa Rao, who confesses to have meddled with the broomstick to check if she can fly. “It was fun to read about Harry grabbing the snitch and the next minute log on to the site try it myself,” she says.
“Once a Harry Potter fan, forever a harry potter fan,” says Sandhya Ravikrishnan, who still finds it refreshing to read any of the Harry potter books during an off from work. “There are a few websites, which keep their data updated even now,” she says. “I visit them often, for old times sake,” she adds.
With more kids having an affinity to the clicks of mouse, rather than turn of pages, the websites seem to have become a predecessor to the books in a few cases. Sheeja, a mother of a ten-year-old says that though her child hasn’t read any book, he plays quidditch in the HP website. “He also has a username for himself and says he belongs to Slytherin,” she says with a confused look.
Take a look at the websites which had been a rage when the books came out, but continue to gain visitors in a dwindling number now.
Ode from the past
The big daddy of all Harry Potter websites would be the site created by Warner Bros themselves – The Harry potter official website. It is filled with a magical aura and sincerely depicts what the series stands for – the venture into the unknown. The page is your ticket to the wizarding world.
At one corner you have Sirius Black staring at you and on the other you have the Marauder’s map waiting for you to unfold it. You get conscious about your identity.You are a muggle and you are trespassing the wizard’s vineyard. Is it legal to click the icons? Are you being tracked? The mysterious cloud gains weight with the jazzy tone in the background.
The Marauder’s map is your key tip toe into the various classrooms, find out about the teacher, and involve yourself in the activities specific to the class. So you click your way to Divination class and find to your amaze, find that you get to tryout the tea leaf reading and crystal ball reading all by yourself. While in the tea leaf reading, you get to prophecise the future of any of your friends by filling in few questions about them, the crystal ball reading has you repeating the caressing moves done by Professor Trelawney. One wrong move and the frizzy hair maniacal professor pops out of the screen with a message – ‘Successs still lies in your future id you keep practicing and try again.’ No wonder, Hermoine was skeptical about her grim predictions.
The hallmark of the site are the set of games, which let you help Weasleys arrange their dining table, assist Hagrid with the hippogriff or take your time out and practise in the quidditch pitch – Chaser, beater, seeker or keeper – your call.
Oh and before your leave, do not forget to leave in a message in the message board. It would make a wonderful archive down the years. It can be a snippet about how you fell for Harry, how you loathe Malfoy or even about you sobbed your eyes off on Dobby’s death.
High – The games and the Marauder’s map let you believe you are one with the wizards
Low – Slightly dormant, it doesn’t let you update yourself with the present muggle wizard clashes and doesn’t let you shop for the wand and books. No Daily prophet. No wizard shop. Boo.
Into the author’s mind
Here is a family that awaits you. Get wizardened by a new name and let the hat sort your group. Enter your house rooms and join the discussions with your house mates. Let the slytherin in you conspire against Gryffindor and let the Ravenclaw in you engage in combined studies. It’s the facebook of the wizards.
While you continue your gossips, also get to know behind-the-scenes story from Rowling herself at pottermore.com. The site lets you look at Harry’s life through a magnifying glass, moment by moment.
The chapters are recreated as interactive illustrated moments accompanied by the ambience sound. The chapters are within the locked icons which appear at the top of the screen waiting for you to unlock them. The only way you can do that is by exploring the chapters one by one, which is an experience unlike any other.
In one of the first chapters where we are introduced to the Dursleys and Harry Potter’s place of stay, the screen shows Dumbledore marching towards the Little Whinging during the night. The links on the side of the screen are a boon to both the first timers, who want to know more about the charcaters and to the curious souls who would love to excavate the thought process behind christening the names of the street to what it is. Ask why the street was called the Little whinging ? You have an answer. Ask why Dursleys door number is four? You have an answer for that as well. J K Rowling says that’s she found number hour as ‘hard and unforgiving’ for some reason, which is why she slapped it on the Dursleys door. Enlightening much?
This interactive approach is a tantalising starter to the collection of books(ebooks and digital audio books) that are advertised in the Pottermore shop. Apart form the series, the collection includes Hogwarts Library books. Fancied reading Fantastic Beasts and where to find them, Quidditch through the ages or Tales of Beedle and the Bard? Pick them and you might just give Hermoine a tough competition!
However, you just can’t wriggle your head inside pottermore without registration, which the site says is to check whether one is magical. The funniest part about the registration process is that it asks for your guardian’s email address, just to give the Harry Potter feel to it. Kudos there.
And the next moment, you find yourself listed among the magical folks, right above Harry potter’s name. A jump of joy and few tears then are natural.
High – The interactive approach – be it with the other wizards or with the images on screen.
Low – The fuss about proving yourself magical. The username generated looks like one of Einstien’s equation.
Also check out HOL Virtual Hogwarts and Hogwarts medieval to get closest to experiencing Hogwarts.
Fetching Hogwarts to your home
If J K Rowling flips her hair, mugglenet would report it. When they say that they are the number #1 Harry Potter site, they mean it.
A myriad of options, the site seeps you into the wizarding world with the first click. With the recent updates about the Harry potter team, the discussions among fans and the contests for the muggles, the site is a quenching ground for all those Harry potter fans out there. With every click, it brings in a high-brow moment. While at one moment you find yourself ogling at the Hogwards castle at Leavesdon studio, the next moment you are rollicking at the parodies put up by the fans.
It’s mind boggling to note that there are around 6,239 people taking up OWL examinations as mentioned in the Mugglenet’s daily progress report. All you need to do is register as a candidate and give in the number to attend the examination before July 28. You will have to answer one difficult question, from what they call a test bank, each day over a course of two weeks. The questions might not necessarily be from the seven books, so it’s a test of real fanatism as the scope widens to Rowling’s interviews as well.
Sample this question from divinition – What type of wand wood has a reputation for performing best for seers and those skilled in Legilimency? Oh, don’t forget the anti-cheating spells.
The discussion forum is an avalanche of information and views. The members of the various groups which include named – The Quibbler, The three broomsticks, Alohomora forums – have the books analysed, critiqued and associated with the present world scenarios. So there are essays that talk about the resurrection of Harry Potter, compare the cult of Harry Potter with Lord of the Rings and podcasts which discuss Harry’s first kiss !
Let the discussion keep its pace, but why not fuel it with a butter beer and Treacle fudge, the recipes of which you can find in the site under ‘Fans’.
High – All you need to know about Harry in one platter
Low – The invasion of ads
Also, Check out the Leaky Cauldron.org for news and features.
The information in the article was previously published in The New Indian Express. Check out – http://epaper.newindianexpress.com/c/1441635