Watch Parties, Cosplay, and More: ‘Game of Thrones’ and Fan Engagement

April 14, 2019 marked a day I’d been looking forward to for nearly 2 years, the premiere of the final season of Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones has helped create a rich and engaging fantasy world that is actually understood by the mainstream media, making my obsession with George R. R. Martin’s books, television show, and characters more accessible to my less than nerdy family.

Aside from my absurdly high levels of excitement and anticipation for the premiere, one of the things I was most looking forward to was the watch party hosted by two of my best friends, Michael and Hayley. There were fourteen of us packed into their living room, with a potluck table of snacks, a bucket of drinks, and hype in quantities to spare.




THE PARTY

In retrospect, it is both amusing and fascinating to look at how we creatively engaged with Game of Thrones for the party. There were fun t-shirts, a hand-stitched Daenerys and baby Drogon, a bowl of “Little Theons” (laugh when you get the joke) on the potluck table, lemon cookies, and thematically named beer (an “obsidian” stout and what I affectionately referred to as “Not Blonde Enough” coffee blonde ale).

Source: Tumblr

Because I am extra, I insisted on wearing my cosplay replica of Oathkeeper the entire night while dressed as “Modern AU Brienne of Tarth.” I swooped my freshly trimmed bob back while wearing my Brienne baseball tee, an unbuttoned plaid shirt, and Chuck Taylor high tops.

There was only one rule at the party–NO TALKING DURING THE SHOW. After we sang along with the theme song and oooooh’d and ahhhhh’d at the new opening sequence, there was utter silence, save for laughter at jokes and gasps at surprising moments. As soon as we finished, we all began talking at once and checking our Game of Thrones fantasy league stats. The after party consisted of cosplay discussion and planning, finishing off the snacks, and restarting the episode so we could comment while watching and laughing at our own crack theories (Bran is an astral projection).

While munching on a plate of party snacks, I looked around the room at my friends. One thing that I observed was that I was in a room full of people who have engaged with Game of Thrones on several different creative levels. I was seated among artists who have created good art because they have been inspired by good art.

THE PLAYERS

Michael and Hayley worked together to create this incredible season 4 Cersei for Hayley. Michael is an absolute wizard with a sewing machine and Hayley has a real eye for detail, finding accessories and adding the little things that make their cosplays stand out in a crowd. She created the detail work on the shoulders for the Cersei dress, assembling the chainmail portion while we played D&D one night.

Whitney has created this incredible Daenerys cosplay. If she hadn’t told me, I’d never have known this was her first attempt at making a dress all on her own. I am so impressed with her skill!

Final Thoughts

Needless to say, I am blessed with an abundance of creative friends. This experience made me think deeply how Martin’s work has affected us, but also how it affected me. It’s not an understatement to say that Brienne of Tarth, as well as Gwendoline Christie’s note-perfect portrayal of the character fundamentally changed how I view myself. With Michael’s help, I’ve now got a game plan for a canon Brienne cosplay, which I hope to successfully execute by July.

Because I have been so inspired by Game of Thrones, I am trying things I would never have had the courage to try on my own. That is what the best art does–inspires the person engaged with the art to change, to consider their own skills, to try something new, to collaborate with friends, to create.

How do you engage creatively with the art you enjoy? Are you a cosplayer? Do you create fanart or fan fiction? Filk? Game of Thrones is but one example of how good art has produced creativity in my own life. Leave a comment and share with us here!

Game of Thrones airs on Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.




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