Game of Thrones Research Project

From Fanlore
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Fan Survey
Title: Game of Thrones Research Project
Date(s): October 2016 -
Fandom(s): Game of Thrones
External Links: Game of Thrones Research Project
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

The Game of Thrones Research Project was described as an "international audience research project," however in 2021 it would come to light that it was a for-profit project, as three of the researches would go on to publish their results in a for-profit book in 2021. The project was hosted at a website called (the domain has been bought by a porn blogger) and launched in October 2016. The original about page, which described the project and its plans, is available on the Wayback Machine.[1] Outside of "preliminary results" from 2017 and a few vague out of context snippets from their Twitter[2] it has not produced any full, public results as of 2021. The Project was independent of HBO and of George R. R. Martin and was conducted by "a group of over 40 university researchers from all over the world." The Game of Thrones Project included a survey that took around 20 minutes to complete, and is no longer available to fill out.


Over the past 25 years, many commentators have sensed that 'fantasy' has changed beyond recognition. In book form, it has blossomed extravagantly. From 'the new weird' of the 1990s, to the increasing mixing of SF and fantasy, published fantasy has expanded and got ever more complex. And then of course there are 'wild cards' like Fifty Shades of Grey … In film, we have seen of course the huge expansions in technical capacity to make 'worlds' look real. We could each choose our own favourites and key examples, but surely The Lord of the Rings, Avatar,and The Hunger Games have transformed the public face of fantasy. In TV, series like The Vampire Diaries, Outlander, Supernatural, and True Blood, and many more. Fantasy has steadily become more present, and more varied.

What is going on? What do all these things mean to audiences and fans? The truth is, we don't yet know. Now, with Game of Thrones a new set of dimensions has been added. Not just that the book series is huge – and unfinished. More, perhaps, that this is such a doom-filled series, where the moment you form an affection for a character, s/he is likely to suffer horribly, and die. And all the time, hanging over everything is the coming Winter, the threat from the North, the White Walkers … and worse … All set in a world that is not ours, yet in a hundred ways reminds many people of ours. [3]

Project Aims

The Game of Thrones Research Project had a number of aims:

  • To capture the range of responses that people have to the series, overall – why and how it matters to people to follow the story, and see how it unfolds, but also to understand why and how some people have been upset by particular elements.
  • To see how, for different people, this series finds its place among other modern fantasy stories.
  • To understand how people are bonding with the very different kinds of characters that Game of Thrones offers.
  • To find out how people relate to the big controversies that have accompanied Game of Thrones.
  • To have a go at thinking how this 'fantasy' world of Westeros and beyond is seen to relate to our world.


All results for the Game of Thrones Research Project appear to either be non-existent or perhaps lost online to time altogether. While there was an official Tumblr and Facebook page for the project, neither pages have been active since 2017. There are some articles online that imply that some results were gathered, but all links to such websites are defunct. For example, on the official Facebook page, the last post on Sept 8, 2017 links to an article that claims there would be a list of "preliminary results." However, the link sends one to a website that has since stopped doing business as of 2018, causing the link to lead to a 404 page. The official website itself,, is also inactive, seeing about one blog post per year, and none of them are in reference to the project or its results. Cstonline has an article about a conference in which professor Martin Barker spoke about the project. In this article it was referenced to as the "Game of Thrones audience project." Interestingly, the future-tense of the article suggested Barker was only proposing his project, not covering any actual results. The researchers involved in the Game of Thrones Research Project intend to publish some of the key results from the project in the online journal of audience and reception studies, Participations ("devoted to developing the broad field of study of cultural and media audiences", but the participations journal website has since had it's domain suspended.

Despite seemingly intending to publish these results online or in an easily accessible journal, (even promising to "post an overall summary of results back to this website" which never happened) and claiming that the project was "non-profit," three of the searchers would go on to publish a book with the results for between 80 to 120 euros or 107-120 USD in March 17 2021, titled "Watching Game of Thrones: How Audiences Engage with Dark Television." The names on the title are Martin Barker, Feona Attwood, and Clarissa Smith, who were all included in the list of the 40 researchers. It was published directly out of Manchester University Press.[4][5]


  1. ^ ABOUT THIS RESEARCH, Mar 26, 2017 (Accessed 11/13/2021)
  2. ^ GoT Research Project, Twitter. (Accessed 11/13/2021)
  3. ^ About
  4. ^ Watching Game of Thrones: How Audiences Engage with Dark Television Hardcover – March 17, 2021, Amazon. Circa March 2021. (Accessed 11/13/2021)
  5. ^ Watching Game of Thrones How audiences engage with dark television, manchesteruniversitypress. Circa March 2021. (Accessed 11/13/2021)