When I saw the name of Warner Brothers' new website for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I was concerned. I worried that JoinDumbledoresArmy might be some sneaky plan by the Bush administration to draft our youngsters into fighting overseas. But after closer inspection, the site appears legit. It allows you to enroll alongside Harry, Ron, and Hermione to fight the Dark Arts and also to send messages to Dumbledore's Army that will appear on the website. The messages that have been left so far range from the heroic -- ("We must band together against the Dark Lord," says Larry R.) to the cryptic --("I'm of Brazil, yeah!!! LOL," says Eder F.) to the profound -- ("EEEEEEEEEEEE!" says Katie A.)
Once you enroll in the Army, you can download wallpapers, skins, banners, images, and buddy icons. I must admit, I did not enroll -- I fear a 26 year-old man signing up for "Dumbledore's Army" would surely put me on some sort of pedophile watch list -- but I did play the site's game: "Dark Arts Defense." The object of the game is to master spells. I won my school's spell-ing bee three years in a row, but alas, those skills did not translate. You have a wand, they give you symbols and you're supposed to trace them out in the air to defeat your opponent. There's a training course, but I got cocky and skipped right over it, which was a mistake. I must say, the game was a lot of fun, but playing it was quite a blow to my self-esteem. The current high score: 318,071. My score: 6.