In case you were wondering, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling isn’t finished innovating in digital storytelling with Pottermore. At E3 yesterday, Sony announced an interactive storybook/game called “Book of Spells,” first in a series of interactive storybooks called “Wonderbook,” with all-new content written by Rowling. The game turns Sony’s PS Move motion-sensitive wand into a Hogwart’s-style magic wand, used for performing spells from a Hogwarts spellbook.
The trailer is a bit misleading, showing a kid opening a book and it animating and magically transporting him into a wizard’s castle. The video from CNet of the E3 demo is a bit more accurate—the game uses a webcam-style camera to capture an image of a placeholder book object, the Move controller, and the person playing the game, then superimposes computer-game images over them.
The gamer’s TV thus becomes a sort of technological “Mirror of Esired,” showing the user performing all these feats of magic while in the real world he’s just waving some bits of plastic around. For all of that, it really would have seemed like magic (in the Clarkian sense) just a few short years ago—and is still pretty darned impressive now.
When you think about it, it’s really a quite natural fit for imitating a Harry Potter spellbook, and a really good choice to lead off a line of interactive virtual pop-up books. The tomes in the Harry Potter novels were magically “interactive,” with moving photographs and other magical effects. The Harry Potter fan in me would find this practically irresistible.
I also find it interesting that this seems touted as more of an interactive book you experience than a game you try to “win”. It’s a way to explore the history of some of the spells used in the Harry Potter books, and to learn more about the universe—an interactive version of the sorts of supplemental guides and reference books that have always been attractive to publish alongside books of any popular series. I wonder if we’ll see more interactive tie-ins like this?