The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Gaming

It is hard to find a child, teen, or adult who has not at least heard the name Harry Potter. Not only have the books and movies contributed to the successfully popular series, but also the array of video games and supplementary texts related to the Harry Potter ‘world’, the Pottermore website, and the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida. I think in terms of Harry Potter, transmedia has done a tremendous justice to the books, the movies, and the fans, especially through the creation of the interactive computer games (Murray 51), specifically the PC version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

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What might be considered blasphemous to some die-hard Harry fans, I actually watched all the movies before I even opened one of the books. The books obviously had much more information, characters, and details that the movies did not include. When I was growing up, my sister and I loved playing the third Harry Potter movie based computer game, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. This game was interesting because not only was it closely tied to the movie with its reference to movie images and character appearances, but it also tied in elements of the book as well as original elements by the makers of the game.

Buckbeak's Flight Challenge in 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban' PC game. This is a scene from both the movies and books. The gamer tries to get a certain score by flying Buckbeak through the rings  with the use of the keyboard arrow keys and spacebar. The area the gamer flies Buckbeak is around the Hogwarts castle so they are able to see areas that are original to the game.

Movie Accurate-Buckbeak’s Flight Challenge in ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ PC game. This is a scene from both the movies and books. The gamer tries to get a certain score by flying Buckbeak through the rings with the use of the keyboard arrow keys and spacebar. The area the gamer flies Buckbeak is around the Hogwarts castle so they are able to see areas that are original to the game.

Movie scene of Buckbeak's Flight. Approximately 2 minute long scene.

Movie scene of Buckbeak’s Flight. Approximately 2 minutes long.

Book Accurate-Peeves is a character in the book but not in the movies. In the games, Harry needs to duel Peeves in order to get past him. The duels, however, are not events that happen in the books.

Book Accurate-Peeves is a character in the book but not in the movies. In the games, Harry needs to duel Peeves in order to get past him. The duels, however, are not events that happen in the books.

Game Only-The Bean Bonus Room is a room that the player can go once they have successfully completed a spell challenge. Beans are used as currency in the game world for the characters to buy things like chocolate frogs and trading cards. These beans and the bean bonus room is not something in the books or movies.

Game Only-The Bean Bonus Room is a room that the player can go once they have successfully completed a spell challenge. Beans are used as currency in the game world for the characters to buy things like chocolate frogs and trading cards. These beans and the bean bonus room is not something in the books or movies.

For someone such as me who had not yet read the books, the games provided a way to still know some of these characters and elements that had not been included in the movie, such as the character, Peeves (pictured above), whom is relevant in the books and not even alluded to within the movies.

What I think is the most amazing quality of this game, and computer/video games in general, is the interactive and exploring capability. In the movies, the audience is not able to see many of the rooms, hallways, and nooks and crannies that are mentioned and that are interesting details of the stories. With the interactive game, I am able to explore Harry’s school, Hogwarts, and see rooms in great detail that were only skimmed over during the movie. In addition, I am also able to explore areas not even mentioned in the movie, but rather specific to the book or even areas found solely in the computer game. I can take part in activities that were just mere scenes or clips of a scene such as the “Buckbeak’s flight” challenge (see “Buckbeak” image above for reference). I can also interact with characters based on dialogue I choose which adds a more personal component to the whole engagement (Murray 38).

I think computer games are a great way for fans to really immerse themselves into the world of their fandom. The games can provide insight, exploration, and even new information that one could not obtain from the original text. The Harry Potter game acted as transmedia storytelling for me especially because I had not yet read the books. Even if one had read the books, I think they would still enjoy the gaming experience because of the aspect of exploration and participation, as opposed to being an outside observer (Murray 48), that interactive games provide.

References:

EA Games, and Warner Brothers. Harry Potter and the Prison of Azkaban. Computer software. Vers. PC. N.p., 2004.

Murray, Janet H. Hamlet on the Holodeck. New York City: The Free Press, A Division of Simon and Schuster Inc., 1997. PDF.

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