It turns out that joining an online course for Hogwarts is a lot more exciting in theory than it is in practice. The creators of Hogwarts is Here didn't account for the idea's popularity, and merely enrolling took me over an hour as the server kept giving me 503 messages. This LARP (live action role playing) site allows players to enroll as themselves, a new character, or an existing character in the book, and then complete all the Hogwarts coursework, including 3-foot-of-parchment essays.
But after one hour of refreshing, I was firmly in Ravenclaw and ready to take my first class: Potions. I downloaded the first lesson as well as the necessary book: Magical Drafts and Potions.
Unlike the JK Rowling-created Pottermore, which is a visually stunning game that brings to life aspects of Hogwarts, Hogwarts is Here is more like University of Phoenix for Harry Potter lovers. You can immerse yourself as deeply as you wish in that Potterian world until the real world around you melts away and you realize that you just spent more time writing an essay on potion ingredients than you spent on your actual work.
For those who can't get enough of Harry Potter, it's a brilliant way to feel close to Hogwarts. Even for those of us who are mere Harry Potter lovers but not super-fans, it's a fun way to spend a few hours pretending. But the brilliance of the site made me realize how many other stories I wish I could slip inside and live the life of the characters.
Image: Marco Becerra via Flickr
Here are a few more LARP sites I'd love to see created:Lord of the Rings Shiretown
Set up your Hobbit hole and settle down in the Shire where you'll have to interact with your Hobbit neighbours, attend Shire-wide events like Bilbo's birthday party, and live out the life of a Hobbit in real time.From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Museum Living
Hide your clothes in your instrument case, fill your pockets with pennies, and settle down in the museum of your choice. Play the game by learning everything you can about a mystery lurking in the museum. Interact with other runaways by hanging out in the bathroom.Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great Camp Experience
Join Sheila and the rest of the gang in Tarrytown for the summer, though make sure you bring your slam book! Activities include churning out a newspaper on a virtual mimeograph machine and swimming lessons from the comfort of your living room.Hunger Games Death Match
Accept your tesserae and put your name in the Reaping. If your character is chosen, you will train hard to get ready for the Games. If you character isn't chosen, you will cheer on the tribute from your District. Either way, the game circles around year after year, and if you die on screen, you lose your account and need to sign up again.Quimby Home Life
Enjoy a mundane, middle-class existence in the Quimby household. Daily tasks include remembering to feed Picky-Picky, crayoning with Ramona, and helping Beezus fix her perm. Extra points can be gained by convincing Mr. Quimby to stop smoking.
Which books do you wish you could enter with a LARP?
Now excuse me, my potions homework awaits.
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