One can question his methods, one can boggle at his antics, but the YouTube subscriber Borg Cube that is PewDiePie and his bro universe are not without marketing savvy. So, it is anything but coincidental that the release of the long awaited season five of HBO’s Game of Thrones has coincided with an epic PewDiePie miniseries of let’s plays through TellTale Games’ Game of Thrones episodic graphic adventure – in Game of Thrans – Episode 3.
For those new to the Telltale Games idiom, Game of Thrones, (as with previously covered Tales from the Borderlands) is a modern day representation of the playable comic book that Tom Hanks’ Josh Baskin adventures through in the beginning of 1988’s Big. It’s as if the entire graphic adventure is a cinematic cut-scene from a more action oriented game, giving the user a prettier, slower-paced narrative story in which certain choices affect the outcomes of the adventure. The spaces in between the beats of decision-making are made to be enjoyed passively, as if watching an episode of the television show.
This type of episodic graphic adventure plays well into the let’s play genre as it allows the let’s play MC to sit back and comment on the developing plotline and characters, rather than try to juggle frenetic button-mashing and paddle toggling with entertaining an audience. In the words of YouTube commenter Nic Cage’s Fab Mouth,
“Thanks, for entertaining me everyday Pewds, I enjoy watching these videos, because I’m too lazy to download/buy it and play it myself. I feel like watching a movie. Besides, you make the same choices I would make. Keep up the good work.”
A movie is an apt comparison to this 108 minute epic playthrough in which PewDiePie plays the avatars of Gared Tuttle, a Knight’s Watch recruit under the tutelage of he-who-knows-nothing Jon Snow, himself, Asher Forrester, a banished lad on the run in Essos, trying to find his way to the Khaleesi, Mira Forrester, handmaiden to Margaery Tyrell, and Rodrik Forrester, the eldest of the Forrester children and whipping boy of Roose Bolton’s mercenaries.
Viewers of the HBO series are keenly attuned to the whereabouts of Drogon, the Khaleesi’s rogue dragon child. PewDiePie’s adventure begins with Asher’s run in with Drogon during an attempt to flee pursuing mercenaries. Guiding his friend’s out of harms way, by using Drogon to distract the soldiers, Pew orchestrates an escape from the dragon’s lair, pitting foe against foe and using the resulting commotion to slip the vice and head toward the Khaleesi, who is heard to be in pitched battle with the Yunkai nation.
As a reward for his daring escape, PEW, takes a well deserved ‘afk’ (a foray into the real world of humans) and returns with what might be described as a modern nod to a Japanese Okina mask attached to his head. Having the wisdom of the Noh at his beck and call, Pew dispenses a kernel of ancient, syllogistic wisdom:
“There are only good asses, unless they’re granny asses. Which means that grannies are bad asses.”
If man is mortal, and Pew is a man, then PEW is mortal… Logic may dictate that conclusion, but I suspect otherwise. The man is channeling the avatar of an ancient godhead to an uncountable mass of zealots and bro-natics. And let’s not forget that he’s doing this in a non-native language.
This is why, perhaps, PEW can be forgiven for clearly never having watched the actual GoT television series. While piloting Mira Forrester and handmaidening to attendant Lady Margaery Tyrell, PEW is astonished by the fact that some gruesome event takes place (Geoffrey’s poisoning) at the denouement of Margaery’s wedding.
Again, near the end of the episode, upon hearing that he has gained an audience with the Khaleesi, PEW wonders “Is it like Jabba [The Hutt]?” PEW is then astonished to see a petite beatific blonde standing in the throne room awaiting him.
PEW’s point of view regarding the minutia of the GoT plotlines could be encapsulated by a jokester in the Khaleesi’s entourage who proclaims:
“I wouldn’t know a dragon tooth from a basilisk’s dick”
Nor does that make any difference, if the nearly 700,000 same-day views of Game of Thrans’ third installment are any indication of the let’s play’s success. For the bro-nation, having a PEW perspective on the game, even if it’s that of a naive babe-in-the-Westeros Woods, is what brings clarity to the game’s narrative. PEW makes this clear when, at the end of the play through, he compares his progress to that of the (more GoT knowledgeable) game’s player base. After noting that his key decisions were mirrored by 60+% of the game’s players, he rejoices.
For it is not game or genre or storyline expertise that makes Pew so compelling to his followers. It’s the unbridled id of watching him spin a player avatar pointlessly in circles, watching PEW’s ADD agony while a maimed man slowly walks to his designated waypoint, or watching him do a butt-massaging hand-dance to the epic GoT score. These are the granules of vicarious enjoyment that his viewers crave. Not so much a voice to guide them through the darkness as a confused guffaw to help them to realize that they are not alone.