Sunday, November 3, 2013

Hogwarts Letters

Hellooo everyone...

Lately, I have been looking at how the site limits its players. I went through the set-up account process and the initial stages of character play to give you all a look at how the game can be constricting to its players.

So, there is always the sell your soul section of every account setup process and is no different. The basic name, birthday, gender, email, etc. and then choose a password process still exists for Harry Potter I guess. The usual go to your email to confirm your account information then click on the link to begin remains. And this is where things become interesting. When the new Hogwarts student enters the game there are three initial tasks to accomplish: 1) collect your money from Gringotts Wizarding Bank, buy a pet and a wand, and finally he or she needs to be Sorted into their respective Houses.

Getting the money from the bank is fairly straight forward. The next part (buying the pet) is one of the few opportunities that allows the player to personalize their player identity. When the student chooses a pet that pet's picture becomes their avatar. I chose a cat so I have a cat with luxurious white fur as my avatar. This is about the only personalization available to the students in the game.

In the Harry Potter books, the students went to Ollivander's to buy their wands and true to the books the students of do as well. Similarly, the wands choose the students. The student is given seven questions to click through and answer to their best ability. The questions are not always the same for every player ( I have created two accounts and the questions were different both times). Most of the questions are of the to-which-do-you-most-closely-identify-with type. One question that I encountered was about eye color (there were eight color options). At the end of the questions the student verifies that the answers are correct and is awarded a wand with a brief description of its attributes (length, wood type, and core composition).

The final step in the player entrance process is to be Sorted. Sorting is similar to the wand choosing process in that it also asks seven questions. This time the questions seem to be more in-this-scenario-which-would-you-prefer type category. These questions also change from player to player. At the end of the quiz, the student is placed into a House which become his or her family on the site. From there the student is free to wander about and learn about the wonderful world of Harry Potter.

Hope this helps those of you who don't play understand some of the restrictions placed upon the students from the start. This game does not allow a lot of room for students to create an identity or communicate with others but it does create an interesting platform for those ingenious enough to look deeper.

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