There can be no doubt, HBO’s Game of Thrones is an international phenomenon. The show has captured the collective imagination and, after three successful seasons, it does not seem to be losing its grip. Like many past sensations (Beatlemania, “Who Shot JR?”and Titanic) the show has sparked some of its’ own sensations. Licensed products and forum-based websites aside, two populations have grown out of the Game of Thrones phenom; the vigilant “spoiler evaders” and the diligent “torrent-wielding pirates.”
Once upon a time, it was simple to warn readers. “Spoiler Alert” at the top of any information that could be deemed as a spoiler sufficed. This is no longer the case. The militancy and aggression with which the “spoiler evaders” approach the matter has forced media outlets to either evolve and get creative or devolve and start omitting vital information by proudly announcing, “no spoilers here.” Some websites have gone so far as to obfuscate spoiler text, giving the readers the option to click on the block, thereby granting them access to said spoilers. Seems like a lot of effort to avoid information that frankly, in the case of season 4, was written 14 years ago. However, the “spoiler evaders” have a large stake in Game of Thrones and the media has a large stake in the viewers.
The fervent desperation of the “spoiler evaders” has even had an effect on friendships. On Facebook, members have gone so far as to announce that they will either block or even “unfriend” anyone who so much as hints at the events on the newest episode. Fans are taking this show seriously! It begs the question though, if fans love the story so much, why have they not read the books yet? If they had, there would be no concern for spoilers, no need to plug their ears while screaming “la, la, la, la.” There would be no need to threaten their friendships. Answers vary from, “I’m not really a reader” to “Well, it’s too late now.” Ah well, sorry George R.R. Martin, though many fans who have read the books say they are even better than the show, many folks will never know.
Like the “spoiler evaders”, the “torrent-wielding pirates” are dedicated to Game of Thrones. The only real difference is that they are not as visible and vocal; it comes with the job. Despite this, their victories are no more hidden than the “spoiler evaders'” battles. The latest episode has proven this to be true.
A record-breaking 193.418 people downloaded Game of Thrones Season 4, episode 2, off of a single torrent. In total, 1.5 million fans downloaded the episode on the day it aired. Those are impressive numbers. Especially when you consider that all of those people were basically “stealing the show.” Seems like a rather bold maneuver. However, HBO has taken a progressive stance on the matter. From their point of view, the more viewers, legal or otherwise, the greater the ultimate revenue. The cost of battling the “torrent-wielding pirates” would be too great; HBO does not have access to the Lannister coffers, after all.
When the dust settles and the fervor has quieted to a whisper, it seems clear who the victors will be; the game changers. The triumphant “spoiler evaders” and the victorious “torrent-wielding pirates” shall stand together, two families wedded as one, winners in The Game of Thrones.
By Stacy Lamy