Video courtesy of GXC Studios, Inc.
You may not be aware of it, but the Harry Potter fandom community does some fairly nifty stuff. Apparently, people like JK Rowling’s franchise enough to put on puppet shows, start rock bands, and write fan-fiction of Professor Severus Snape… well, let’s just say there’s a reason I’m not linking to Snape’s fanfiction here.
Sufficed to say, I consider myself a fan of our bespectacled hero and his ragtag crew of hooligans. When my city transformed downtown into Diagon Alley for the midnight release of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”, I was one of over 50,000 in attendance, decked out in House colors. So you can imagine my excitement two weeks ago when I learned about Muggle Quidditch 2.0, a Harry Potter themed alternate reality game. There’s a lot of creative energy out there in the community that could be harnessed for a great game.
Since our last article, the game mechanics of the non-magical version of Quidditch have been revealed. Contrary to my expectations, the ARG’s version of Quidditch will not require players to actually run around cradling broomsticks between their legs. Instead, GoCrossCampus.com is hosting a virtual game of strategy, highly reminiscent of Risk, where the four Hogwarts Houses battle for supremacy. Once a day, individual players log on to charge their energy that can be used to move or attack rival territories. Since this process takes less than a minute a day, the game is ideal for keeping its casual players engaged, while creating opportunities for more committed players to create elaborate strategies or negotiate with other Houses.
There’s just one catch: the game won’t start until 15,000 people register to play. Matthew Brimer, Chief Marketing Engineer at GXC Studios, Inc., informed me that “things are pretty hectic around here what with Ludo out of commission and the Ministry breathing down our neck to get this game going with the numbers they’re expecting. We’re just doing the best we can to cooperate with the MQ 2.0 effort and do our part as Ludo’s partner.” In order to achieve these numbers, members of the Chamber of Secrets forums (the official forums of MuggleNet.com) are reaching out to Harry Potter fan communities far and wide to get the word out. The Wizard Rock groups The Gryffindor Common Room Rejects and The House of Black have agreed to create demos to help the cause.
Since one of the main selling points of Muggle Quidditch 2.0 is the opportunity to support your Hogwarts House, GoCrossCampus’s decision to sort players randomly is surprising. While this can be chalked up to a rather capricious Sorting Hat, the decision to set a mandatory player base is harder to rationalize. The strategy has been successfully utilized in the past, but the move is a risky one. When 42 Entertainment launched its campaign for the Dark Knight by removing a pixel for every email sent to the website, a massive fan outpouring revealed the image within hours.
Muggle Quidditch 2.0 has not been put on hold for the recruiting period: numerous clues have been hidden in maps at the GoCrossCampus website, existing websites have updated, and players were charged with drafting a speech for Minister of Magic Kingsley Shacklebolt. However, by waiting to provide an outlet for casual participants, the game may see high attrition rates from registrants before it reaches 15,000.