Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired Game of Thrones Marketing Is Out for Blood—Mine

Hexbyte Tech News Wired Game of Thrones Marketing Is Out for Blood—Mine

Hexbyte Tech News Wired

Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired

This year’s South By Southwest features a Game of Thrones-themed blood drive.

Ismael Quintanilla/Getty Images

On the first Friday of SXSW, a warm, sunny afternoon in Austin, I walked up to a large hangar across from a half-built luxury condo. A line snaked down the block, all hopeful visitors to one of the festival’s many “experientials.” This one was meant to gin up excitement for Game of Thrones final season premiere, on April 14.

As a devoted watcher of the show, I couldn’t resist the invitation to the “immersive activation.” Especially because it had a novel twist that felt like catnip for the press: At the event, put on by HBO and the American Red Cross, guests could donate blood and then “walk in the steps of the characters who bled and relive their sacrifices as part of the experience.”

I recently rewatched the series in anticipation of the show’s final season, and I was reminded just how graphic the show really is. Streaming seven seasons straight into my cerebrum, what with all the throat-slitting and gut-stabbing, seriously affected me. I began to actively fear disembowelment.

Which is why I was so curious what it meant to “walk in the steps of the characters who bled and relive their sacrifices.” Could this be a version of immersive therapy that might drive my increasingly paranoid thoughts out of my head?

When I walked into the event, I signed a quick waiver and ultimately demurred on donating blood. I hadn’t eaten much that day, and it felt particularly dicey given my increased activity level and decreased energy consumption.

The scene was dark. Literally. The lights inside were dim, but a well-placed beam cast its glow down upon the Iron Throne. Flanking the stately chair was a grand 24-person choral ensemble performing an original 27-minute composition. Kingsguard soldiers stood sentry. A constant mist of smoke sat at eye level. A “red witch” glided between pews. It was quite the tableau.

A set of stairs led outside, where guests were immediately greeted (confronted?) by three arakh-wiedling Dothraki soldiers and a horse. They gamely posed for photos, acting as genteel as a bloodrider ever could. Wildlings milled around, mixing with Westerosi and other townspeople.

A slightly intimidating woman noticed me scribbling in my notebook. “Are you a scribe?” she asked. I responded in the affirmative. She noted that I must be wise; while I felt briefly flattered, I assured her I was not. She asked me my name, and offered her own. A healer named Rian. Not in need of healing (just yet), I excused myself to watch a sparring session between two swordsman, a stage conveniently set up next to the blacksmith tent, where a few tradesmen talked idly. One was a very good Gendry lookalike. I continued through the grounds, where I was approached by a wildling doing a pretty spot-on impression of Ygritte.

“Do you fight?” she asked.

I wasn’t sure if it was a provocation or information gathering. She had no knife or arrows. I figured I was safe from imminent death, though I looked around for Rian, in case of emergency.

“No,” I admitted. “I’ll leave that to the professionals.”

“But how will you survive against the wights?” she asked.

I thought about it, realizing I had no good answer but the truth: “I guess I’ll just die.”

“Then I guess I’ll just have to kill you twice.”

For a moment, I was stunned by the profundity of her response. Until I remembered that wildlings aren’t particularly metaphorical, and she simply meant that once killed, I would be reanimated into the army of the dead and she’d have to stab me with dragonstone or Valyrian steel to put me down for good.

As I stood around, lamenting my inability to fight and stewing in the heavy thought that I would most assuredly last about 10 minutes after landing in Westeros, a different wildling began shouting and scrapping with an armor-clad Westerosi. “Are you prepared to fight for us?” the wildling growled. “Do you stand with the living?” Another Westerosi broke it up, as a bunch of slack-jawed spectators like myself looked on, wondering just how real the experience would get.

The organizers clearly spared little expenses. They employed more than 80 actors and musicians, who drew from more than 100 pages of script and character backstories. There were original costumes and authentic props from the show. The event even had free food from Shake Shack and fancy juices with names like Thornless Rose.

It would be easy to decry this as late capitalism at its finest, but given the many “activations” and “popups” happening all over SXSW, this one was, as the saying goes, for a good cause. The campaign was on track to collect more than 15,000 pints of blood that first day.

Did it eradicate my fear of disembowelment? Well, it’s a strange irony: I spent some time in “Westeros” without having spilled a drop of blood. I left feeling somewhat guilty—and Googling where I could later donate a pint.


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Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8 Trailer: HBO Plays to Its Meme Base

Hexbyte Tech News Wired ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8 Trailer: HBO Plays to Its Meme Base

Hexbyte Tech News Wired

Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired

This is the face of someone fixin’ for a fight.

Helen Sloan/HBO

It’s here, it’s here! It’s finally here! The trailer for the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones dropped this morning and hoo boy is it a doozy. So many fights, so many stare-downs, so much talk of death!

Opening on a terrified-looking Arya Stark, the whole 100-second clip is a dark-hued montage setting up the final battle between the living and the dead Beyond the Wall. There are dragons, swords, Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow leading an army together like they’re not related, and even a brief shot of Grey Worm and Missandei kissing. (Glad those two are still going strong.) Then, what we’ve all been waiting for: a giant army staring down the White Walkers and their army of wights. Technically all we see is the hoof of a reanimated horse, but close enough.

Pretty exciting, huh? Yes, and HBO knows it. Rather than just post the trailer on YouTube and letting fans devour it like crazed zombies, the cable network put it on Twitter with a very specific request: “Describe your emotions in a single GIF.” Yes, HBO know the fanbase is fueled by memes, and this one plays right into their hands. As soon as the trailer went up, the mentions were full of images from The Office, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Titanic, and so on. The base responded in kind.

Watch the trailer below, and feel free to drop HBO a GIF, if you are so moved. Game of Thrones is back April 14 for its final season.


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Hexbyte Tech News Wired New ‘Game of Thrones’ Images Show … Umm, the Furs Are Great

Hexbyte Tech News Wired New ‘Game of Thrones’ Images Show … Umm, the Furs Are Great

Hexbyte Tech News Wired

The eighth and final season of Game of Thrones will be bigger, badder, and hairier than ever. No, we’re not talking about the saga—we’re talking about the furs! Because that’s literally all HBO sees fit (ha!) to show us. Earlier today, the studio released a collection of brooding character stills, notable mainly for the fabulous fashions. (Maybe that’s where they’re concealing all the plot twists—in the majestic folds of Brienne of Tarth’s capacious overcoat.) It’s been an incremental PR rollout, like water dribbling off an icicle, but at least we now know what our incestuous heroes and pretenders to the throne are hiding in their Westerosi winter wardrobes. Let’s unpack.

Angela Watercutter, Senior Editor: Whoohoo! New Game of Thrones images! Today is a blessed day. Much like Winterfell itself, it’s cold and grey here in New York and if there’s one thing that will warm my cold, dead heart, it’s some new images of the surviving members of the GoT cast—and boy, HBO really delivered on that. I mean, lookit! There’s Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) looking stoic AF. Oh, and Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) looking all kinds of confident. Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) also appears as though she’s ready to pummel some lands—and also maybe constipated? Everyone else is in some sort of furrowed-brow state (except Sam Tarly/John Bradley, who, I think we can all agree now, is probably going to be the only one to survive this mess). So, I guess the theme of the final season of Game of Thrones is “Be Worried”?

Whatever, these are character shots, and as such they reveal next to nothing about what to expect in Season 8 of Game of Thrones, except for maybe some inkling of who is still living when it starts. But let’s get past that bit of disappointment and get to what really matters. Friends, can we talk about these outfits? What are they wearing?

Emily Dreyfuss, Senior Writer: Having read all the books and watched every episode of this show, I have to admit that I still can’t remember what’s happening at this point of HBO’s Game of Thrones. [Eds. Note: Same.] Things are off the rails, yes? But the fashion gives me hope. I’m particularly excited about Arya’s modestly fur-lined wool-woven half cape.

Arya is my favorite blood-thirsty tween, but what I adore about this outfit is how little fur she’s sporting in comparison to her garish relatives and enemies. Arya wants to murder humans, not innocent animals—though, of course, if she has to kill what appears to be a squirrel to line her cape for warmth, she’ll do it. There’s just the slightest hint of femininity in the diamond stitching of that cape—which she has sewn on with leather straps. Plus, she’s obviously wrapped head-to-toe in leather—a dead animal product styled to keep her warm, protect her from stab wounds, and send the message that she’s a gender-role-nonconforming warrior at the same time. Arya’s practical in every way.

Arya’s outfit contrasts with her mortal enemy Cersei, whose decked out to look the part of the warrior, with her ornate epaulettes and perfectly placed lapel chains. Her outfit tells you that she’s very willing to orchestrate mass murder, but wouldn’t want to partake in anything as close-up as one-on-one combat. It might tousle her crown.

She also seems to have the sliiiiightest of grins on her face. Or am I imagining that? Is it a grimace?

Watercutter: Emily, you’re not dreaming. Jason, what’s your take here?

Jason Kehe, Senior Associate Editor: Poor Samwell—that looks like recycled polyester. Maybe he’s joined a high school biker gang? I think we’re supposed to believe he’s cool now.

Dreyfuss: LOL, Jason! No, he’s not cool, he’s enlightened! He’s done all the learning he could do at the citadel and now he doesn’t care about anything as silly as fashion or coolness.

Kehe: Generous of you, Emily. Also, I can’t stop staring at Daenerys’ ice-queen-pop-idol coat. Very Frozen. Is that polar bear? White fox? Ermine?! Perfectly fitted, with those flare-out sleeves. (I don’t know the official terms, or what an ermine actually is.) My question is, does she know the truth of Jon Snow’s identity here? What’s her face telling us? Either way, no amount of fur will warm up the frigid chemistry between these two, I’m convinced.

Dreyfuss: Jon Snow (Kit Harington) looks like he just realized Daenerys is his sister … five minutes after they slept together. Now he’s like, “Can this wolf-fur coat hide my shame?” And Daenerys is all, “Brother, your queasiness is very unattractive.”

Is the red thread of Daenerys’ coat a slight nod to the Red God?

Watercutter: Emily, I think you could be right there—yet that would be an actual possible plot detail, so dunno.

To answer Jon’s question, though, I’m not sure if furs can hide shame—and something about that pelt says Stride of Pride to me. If anything, I’d say their faces, and accompanying threads, are giving off an air of “We’re taking the Iron Throne and beating the Lannisters at their incest game while we’re at it.” That’s just me, though.

Speaking of (good) Lannisters, can we talk about Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) for a second?

Dreyfuss: Yes, please! What is going on with his neckerchief?

Watercutter: Right? It … kinda looks like a dickey? And, hey, I got nothing against a good dickey, but it’s friggin’ cold in Winterfell (or wherever he is, someplace frigid). You’re going to need to protect your neck, man. If not from the cold, at least from, I dunno, everyone who probably wants to slash your throat.

Dreyfuss: And the material is hard to identify. It looks like … plastic globules painted blue? Give my man a proper fur-lined neck, please, costume department.

Watercutter: And yet, Cersei has on some kind of medieval shoulder pads. Is she a linebacker now? Is she joining the cast of Alita: Battle Angel to play Motorball? I’m confused. That said, the look is cute. A little less Rhythm Nation than her previous ‘fits, but I’m OK with that.

Dreyfuss: She’s all about the lewk. That’s her whole schtick: projecting strength while not actually being able to defend her throne or her family. She always looks fierce as hell as she’s totally dropping the ball.

Whereas Jon Snow and Danerys continue to look fierce and actually be fierce—bedecked in various furs. It’s interesting to note who is wearing fur and who isn’t—none of the Lannisters, and also not Varys or Davos. What are you trying to tell us, promotional photos?!

Oh, you just want us to remember this show exists? And is coming back to television on April 14? And every character is hot and powerful? But also very cold? Message received.


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Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired The ‘Game of Thrones’ Final Season Is Shaping Up to Be a Beautiful Mess

Hexbyte Tech News Wired The ‘Game of Thrones’ Final Season Is Shaping Up to Be a Beautiful Mess

Hexbyte Tech News Wired

Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired

The show’s eighth and final season lands on HBO early next year. It will feature an epic battle for the soul of Westeros (so to speak). It will cost some $15 million per episode. It will also, inevitably, disappoint someone.

Helen Sloan/HBO

Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired

The show’s eighth and final season lands on HBO early next year. It will feature an epic battle for the soul of Westeros (so to speak). It will cost some $15 million per episode. It will also, inevitably, disappoint someone.

Helen Sloan/HBO

When it comes to Game of Thrones opinions, there’s really only one I trust: WIRED alum Laura Hudson’s. Back when we worked in the same office I used to secretly marvel at her dog-eared and tattered copies of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire books like they were the Dead Sea Scrolls. That’s why it was so disheartening when, at the end of the show’s last season, she pointed out something many of us had been avoiding for a while: Game of Thrones was failing its fans. “It’s happened,” she wrote, “and all that hope and emotional investment has been reduced to a series of bullet points and cartoons, an empty dragon breathing blue fire with all the CGI fury of a broken promise with too much momentum behind it to do anything else.” Despite the fact that I screamed “What??!” at my TV no fewer than five times during that finale, it was heartbreaking how true her words felt.

The show’s eighth and final season lands on HBO early next year. It will, as promised from the beginning, feature an epic battle for the soul of Westeros (so to speak). It will, reportedly, cost some $15 million per episode. It will also, naturally, bear the brunt of having to conclude one of the most sprawling and ambitious television shows in history.

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