Society & Culture
#52 - Game of Thrones Fans
This week, Arya ready for our look at fans of Game of Thrones / A Song of Ice and Fire! We are! And you definitely don’t learn Dothraki to enjoy it! Plus, we have a special guest from the award-winning A Podcast of Ice and Fire, Amin!
Next week, we’ll be keeping the fantasy setting (sort of) to talk about one of the most popular RPG series in Japan; we’ll be talking about fans of the Tales series of video games!
If you want to learn more about Amin, you should definitely check out the aforementioned A Podcast of Ice and Fire; they even provided us with some slides from their panel at San Diego Comic Con (which we brought up in this week’s episode)!
Introduction, Origins, and History:
Game of Thrones is an American fantasy drama television adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” epic fantasy novels. For the purposes of the fandom, we’ll be referring to both of them interchangeably.
A Game of Thrones, the first volume in the series, was written in 1991 and published in 1996. Since then, four other volumes have been released, with a total of seven volumes planned. The series follows the adventures of a wide cast of different characters of the continents of Westeros and Essos. Though there are many different perspectives, the books and TV show follow three main plot lines: an epic war among several families for control of Westeros; the rising threat of the supernatural Others to the north; and “the ambition of Daenerys Targaryen, the deposed king’s exiled daughter, to assume the Iron Throne” (Wikipedia - A Song of Ice and Fire).
The books have sold over 60 million copies worldwide, has been translated into 47 different languages, have been adapted into comics, card games, board games, and video games (and the television show, of course). The television show (which first aired in 2011) has won 38 Emmies, is the most pirated TV series every year since 2012, and an unnamed episode was downloaded over 4 million times (roughly equal to broadcast viewers) (Wikipedia - Game of Thrones).
While no doubt fans of the series existed when the books were initially being released, fandom started buzzing closer to the announcement of the cast of the TV show (early 2011).
The fandom is most active now. Almost definitely now. Game of Thrones has never been as popular as it is today, according to Google Trends data.
More than any other fandom we’ve observed to date, the data is highly periodic (i.e. it spikes whenever a new season is released) and each spike, for the most part, is higher than the last. If you look at the chart, there is a very clear upward trend in interest.
Size of Fandom:
Using some of the data we have on hand, it is possible to get a few different estimates:
Regardless of how you estimate, there are a lot of fans.
Based on data from A Time Capsule of Ice and Fire, there are some interesting demographics results of the over 4 000 surveyed Game of Thrones fans:
Some other unique results:
Other sources, such as Nielson, put the percentage of women at a much more even 42% (Wired - YES, WOMEN REALLY DO LIKE GAME OF THRONES (WE HAVE PROOF)).
Around the world:
As the books have been translated into 47 different languages, it should be no surprise that the books and show are popular around the world. The top ten countries (by search volume) for the Game of Thrones TV show are: Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Czechia, Ireland, Australia, Greece.
(The United Kingdom is 15th in the list, Canada at 18th, and United States at 32nd)
- Sexposition: the use of sexual scenes to provide information about backstory and character motivations
- Ser Twenty of House Goodmen or Ser Ten of House Goodmen: characters jokingly created by fans, after Ramsay said he only needed “twenty good men” to infiltrate Stannis’ camp
- The Purple Wedding: the wedding between King Joffery Barathon and Margaery Tyrell, name chosen by fans because purple is a royal color
- Pink Letter: letter sent to Jon from Ramsay, so named because it had a pinkish hue
- Cleganebowl: name given to the ultimate fight, fans believe is coming, between Sandor Clegane and Gregor Clegane
— Fanlore - Game of Thrones
A Song of Ice and Fire (and related fandoms) has over 28 000 fanfics on Archive of our Own.
Some other fun fanfic facts (try saying that 5 times fast!):
- Top 3 characters: Sansa Stark (over 12474), Jon Snow (over 9390), and Arya Stark (over 6574)
- Top 3 crossovers: Harry Potter (267), Supernatural (67), The Avengers (64)… but the vast majority of fic is just within the Game of Thrones unverse
- Top 3 pairings: Jon Snow / Sansa Stark (3273), Jaime Lannister / Brienne of Tarth (2723), Arya Stark / Gendry Waters (2287)
Have fans tried to make up supplemental material and pass it off as “real” Game of Thrones work?
Why is the popular baby name that came out of Game of Thrones “Khaleesi” and not “Daenerys”?
As rated by fans, what is the most delicious recipe in a Feast of Ice and Fire?
G is in. Neck-and-neck with Doctor Who.
Amin is in. Try it out! Show is good, books are better.
Z is in.
T is out. Will check out some of the graphic novels though.
International Rescue Committee
The IRC is a charity to help refugees who are displaced, to help them recover.
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster.
— Rescue,org - Who we are
What’s the tie-in to Game of Thrones? Well, many members of the cast are longtime supporters of the IRC: in particular, Lana Headey (Cersei Lannister) and Maisie Williams (Arya Stark).
This week’s famous last words around next week’s fandom, (Fandom name)!
What is it that ties the games together, exactly? (And as such, makes a fandom)
The popularity of Tales of Phantasia in North America grew out of its inability to get it released in North America.
As a series of JRPGs and a fandom around that… how many fan games (e.g. RPG Maker) are there? Which one is most beloved by fans?
Has this fandom gone to other mediums: Books, Manga, Artwork (other adaptations)?
We are everywhere! Most notably though, we like to hang out in a few places on social media:
thenickscast, so if you can’t find us, go on your social network and search for that!
How did you read this far without asking this question?!
Fanthropological is an anthropological (ish) podcast where we bring the fan’s-eye view to you! Each week, we take a look at a different fandom, dig up interesting background, trivia, and history, and try to get to why it is that people are a fan. We also try to highlight good causes related to that fandom, and find interesting things that fans have created to share those to the world. Each episode is about an hour. Ish.
We are the Nickscast! Three products of late-80s / early-90s pop culture who love exploring fandom and everything geek … who also happen to have been best buddies since high school, and all happen to be named Nick. Yes, we are super creative. Dare we say, the most creative.
We are Nick Green, Nick Terwoord, and Nick Zacharewicz: We started the Nickscast as a labour of love, and as a place to entertain and to discuss our love of fans and fandom, and all that is shiny and interesting in that realm. It’s what lead us to start our first podcast, our satellite podcasts, Fanthropological, and so much more.
We want to help others learn more about different fandoms, and to create empathy with other fans: We dream of a world where other fans aren’t “those Weird-o’s”, but just folks with different tastes. A world where fandom is full of discourse and analysis, and there are plenty of tools and resources to help. Fans building communities to do good in the world. Because everyone’s a fan.
Special thanks to Amin for taking the time to meet with us! It was great having him on the show to share his experiences and expertise! We really appreciate when we have mega-fans on the show, and especially fellow podcasters!
It is Free