RIP HPWU

Two and half years ago, I started playing this Harry Potter game on my phone. It was called Harry Potter Wizards Unite (HPWU). It was sort of based on Pokemon Go, in that it also involved walking around in the world and encountering things which you could interact wiht using “Augmented Reality” (i.e., pictures that look like they are where you are by using your phone’s camera1. But in HPWU, instead of Pokemon, you are looking for “magical traces” of things that had been stolen by bad guys and you had to cast a spell on them to save the thing. You also had to go to specific locations to acquire resources (with most of the Pokestop and Poke Gym locations being used as inns, greenhouses, and fortresses in HPWU2 ), and instead of walking Pokemon eggs in an incubator to hatch them, you walked portmanteaus with a key in them to unlock them to access the portkey inside (which did not stop me from referring to it as “hatching a portkey” for the entire 2.5 years that I played the game).

On Monday at 12:01 am the game shut down forever. And I’m kind of sad about.

I mean, there were lots of annoying things about the game. There were often bugs and sometimes when they tried to fix the bugs, they created additional bugs. There were certain aspects of the game that required *a lot* of grinding through boring tasks to acquire a resource you needed or achieve an achievement badge or task required for an event. But there was lots of fun stuff too. It was fun to have this magical world to escape into during the pandemic. It was fun to have little challenges to work towards. The whole game had a story to it – and it was interesting to see how the story progressed. There were elements that only showed up occasionally (like werewolves that only came out around the full moon or doxies that only showed up around dawn – which was OK in the winter when dawn is late, but then I wouldn’t see them all summer because dawn happened long before I’d be up).

And I have a few good memories of the game too. Like this one time that Cath and I were out downtown playing an event where one of the tasks was to catch the Weasley car:

IMG_0465

I tapped on a trace and it was the car we were looking for there so I yelled “Car!” to let Cath know. And she instinctively jumped away from the street, thinking that a car was about to hit her!

And one time in the last few days of the games I went on the Knight Bus – which allowed you to do fortress battles with people from all over – and coincidentally ran into Cath! When you went on the KB there was no way to select where you’d end up and I’d never before managed to end up in a KB with a friend!

Ran into Cath on the Knight Bus

Also, I found that the game was helping me with my fear of spiders. There were horrible, ugly spiders that you had to battle in the game and battling them was acting like exposure therapy for me. When I first started playing the game, the spiders really freaked me out. But by the end of the game, I’m so not freaked out that I could actually take this screenshot and post it here:

Scary spider in HPWU

And I’ve even found that I’m less panicked when I see a real spider or a photo of a real spider than I used to be. I wonder how long this will last now that the game is over?

They announced the game would be ending on Jan 31 a few months ago and it was nice that they gave us the ending of the story in that time and that we had a chance to accomplish some of the remaining achievements that we hadn’t yet finished. There were some achievements that weren’t achievable – like “complete the third auror lesson plan” but there were only ever 2 lesson plans completed – which is like a knife in the heart of a completionist like myself. But such is life.

It’s been almost a week since the game ended and I’m slowly losing the habit of wanting to open up the game. I moved the app off my main homescreen of my phone, but I didn’t have the heart to delete it yet. But I’ll go to tap it and remember that it’s no longer there.

  1. Though in both games I usually leave the camera off and just have a cartoon background instead. []
  2. The Pokestops and gyms, in turn, were originally based on locations from another game called Ingress. []

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  • Aww, I’m so glad you thought to grab a screenshot of the one time we magically ran into each other on the Knight Bus!

    I had a dream last night that I was playing HPWU. I don’t miss the grind and the bugs, but it was so nice to have contact with that world every day.

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