It’s heartbreaking to recall the circumstances of Harry Potter’s creation. Unemployed, divorced, and overwhelmed with the task of trying to raise a daughter, J. K. Rowling decided to write a sprawling cock-and-bull fable about a magical boy who gets sent away to wizard school, and learns the power to save the world is in his hands.
“I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was,” Rowling recalled in a 2008 Harvard commencement address, “and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found determination to succeed in the one area where I truly belonged.”
Today, Warner Brothers announced it will release Harry Potter for Kinect this fall, a work that seems ages away from the originating spirit of Rowling’s work. The game is being developed by Eurocom, the studio that made the excellently cinematic Dead Space Extraction, which has the best self-mutilation scene of any videogame I’ve played. The studio also reanimated James Bond in last year’s 007 GoldenEye remake for Wii, which was disappointingly short on scenes of self-mutilation.
The announcement is a bizarre reminder of how hopelessly commodified a work of personal struggle can become once it’s migrated into the world of the best-seller. Harry Potter for Kinect takes this a step further with a simple facial scanning technique that allows players to affix a cartoonish rendering of their own faces onto characters in the game. What a strange thrill it must be to see one’s own body transubstantiated into the magical world of intellectual property. Contrary to every lesson of Rowling’s own bouts of uncertainty, Harry Potter for Kinect will offer players the chance to pretend they’re anything but themselves.
[via The Escapist]