Surprise, sadness, anger, stress… Game of Thrones and the adventures of its characters in Westeros inspire many different feelings in us (Spoiler Alert Seasons 1-6).
All along the six seasons we have lived epic moments that have been etched into our memory. Who does not remember the bloody Red Wedding? Has anyone forgotten the explosion of the Sept of Baelor?
On the Internet we find thousands of fan reviews of the best moments of the series but it is impossible to know how they really make us feel. Until now.
Thanks to Neuromarketing, we have got scientific results about the impact that certain scenes have had on viewers.
Would you like to know which scene has soared up joy meters, or instead, when have we suffered as much as the characters?
We will tell you all about this in our post!
Neuromarketing: Measuring emotions
Emotions have always been really difficult to measure. We humans try to express with words what we feel at each moment but inner feelings are very difficult to convey, especially those that happen unconsciously but which determine our perception of our experience.
How do we do it?
We use the best existing medical technology, such as neural receptor helmet, a perspiration detector and a pulse meter or goggles, which track information about what our eyes are looking at and marking.
When the viewer is equipped with this technology, we show a control video, unrelated to the experiment in order to, subsequently, impact her with some of the scenes from the last six seasons of Game of Thrones.
The neural receptor registers the reactions of our brain to the impacts that we perceive, producing a chart of emotions that we can quantify. For this experiment we have had 14 participants who are followers of the series and we have shown them some of the best moments of the series.
Why can’t we stop watching Game of Thrones?
The human being is attracted by strong emotions and, Game of Thrones gives them all, the easy trigger of its creator with his characters, the constant inner fight of characters between good and evil and thrilling special effects have brought Game of Thrones to a mass success.
Its seventh and last season has broadcasted in the US with 10,1 million viewers and its first episode ‘Dragonstone’ has become the most tweeted in history with 2,4 millions of tags.
With all this, this fictional series by HBO have become a worldwide referent that leaves no one unmoved and keeps us at the edge of our seats in each of its episodes.
We enjoy suffering
Seeing our favourite characters go through the most terrible hardships keeps us glued to our screens. Next, we will show you how we react in front of different moments of the TV series. How do we feel seeing Ned Stark’s death? Which thrilled us most, the Red Wedding or the Purple Wedding?
- Valence definition icon: We feel a positive or negative sensation.
- Average impact: Level of impact that the viewer shows.
- Average Attention: Attention that the viewer pays to the scene.
Shireen Baratheon: The Red Priestess meets new friends
The death by fire of Shireen Baratheon at the hands of the Red Priestess is one of the toughest moments of the fifth season. His father Stannis watches her walk towards the stake and we keep on hopping that someone will stop it from happening but the little Shireen will burn, out of scene, in a matter of minutes.
How have we lived it?
All through the sequence we have perceived oscillations in the levels of average impact and the attention mean of the user.
The moment the Red Priestess lights the stake, average impact shoots up.
In this second picture we can see the face of the father, Stannis Baratheon, and hear Shireen’s screams in the background. Now again, attention and impact raised.
The Purple Wedding: cheers to the king
When a character has risen unanimous opinions of reject, this is Joffrey Baratheon. We took part of his wedding in King’s Landing and saw how he was poisoned in front of all his guests mid-feast.
How did we live it?
All through the sequence the interest was stable and high but when the child king starts to cough viewers attention raised exponentially.
The highest peak comes when Joffrey is laid to the floor, already dead, by his mother Cersei. This moment showed not only the highest impact but also an emotion of rejection in viewers.
Hodor: The door
Hold…Hold…Hold the door, that’s how we came to know the origin of Hodor and sow his sacrifice by holding the door till his death to save the live of the seer Bran Stark.
How did we live it?
All through the scene we have been paying attention and we have kept aware of everything that was going on in Hodor’s vision. But the
Daenerys in Astapor or how to abolish slavery in two simple steps
The Queen of Dragons toke Slaver Bay and got her army in a masterstroke with one of our favourite dragons in scene, literally burning to ashes the slaver regime. Dracarys!
How did we live it?
Of all scenes this is the one that has most positively moved us, we like Daenerys and we love dragons, and during all this sequence our positive emotion values were higher than in any other of the scenes shown.
As we can see on the chart, the highest peak of attention comes when the Queen allows Drogon to attack and burns the Unsullied’s slaver. Let’s declare our love of dragons!
Ned Stark’s beheading
The day when our beloved Ned lost everything he had above the shoulders at the hands of the executioner, we viewers payed attention to each of his words, but our attention highly raised the moment Joffrey failed to show mercy as he had sworn and decides to have his head.
And, of course, the moment when Ned is executed left the highest level of impact, as well as the highest valences for dislike and attention.
The Red Wedding: Dangerous Feasts
The tune of the Rains of Castamere opened the bloodiest feast scene that we have ever seen on TV.
A vast majority of the Starks, direwolf included, fell into the treason at the Twins at the hands of the Freys and the Lannisters.
How did we live it?
The first death, that of Talisa Maegyr, wife of Robb Stark, left a great impact and sets our attention with a high level of dislike.
Conclusions of the research
After analysing the samples of multiple subjects and the metrics by scenes we can conclude the following:
- The purple wedding is the video that has caused a higher emotional impact, rising our mean activation nearly to the top and it is also the one which has caused the highest number of emotional hits.
- Daenerys in Astapor is the scene that has triggered the most positive feelings and the one which has spawned the highest affinity and impact.
- The Red Wedding is the scene with the highest average attention index but not reaching such impact level as other scenes like purple wedding
- Shireen Baratheon is the one that has caused the least impact to the spectators but it has had a high level of negative activation. The death takes place out of camera reducing emotional hits.
- Ned Stark, the death of the Stark’s household leader has had the same impact as the Red Wedding and it has also activated more positively the average valence.
In the light of the metrics:
- We can conclude that, affinity or rejection towards characters, such as Joffrey, condition our perception and the emotions that their fate causes in us. For instance, when Daenerys takes Astapor, participants have a positive perception although a deadly conflict is being shown.
- We have seen that sound and image play a central role in perception. Scenes showing death on screen have a greater impact than those where death is not visible but it can be heard or sensed, as it happens with Shireen Baratheon’s, which is heard, and Hodor’s, which is sensed.
Game of Thrones is a TV series that leaves no one unmoved, which is proven by the emotional activity that we experience in each of the episodes. Do you want to know more details of our experiment? You can access the complete Case Study here.
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