If you’re a human being in this culture, and you (by hook or by crook) have access to HBO, you probably are enamored with and deeply immersed in season six of Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones is like a JRR Tolkein series cross-pollinated with The Wire. It’s a gutty, gritty historically-based fiction full of intrigue and real-politique, mixed with faeries, giants and dragons. It is a world in which blood magic and zombies exist, but a world in which the ultimate power is still massive wealth. It’s an exploration of how the Koch Brothers would go about battling Godzilla. It is the most fully realized version of a made-for-adults epic fantasy series ever conceived. Also, there are boobs.
We have OCD-sadist-genius George RR Martin to thank for the book series the show is based on, known as A Song of Ice and Fire. Unfortunately, George has expanded his beloved universe over five plus books and nearly two million words. Meanwhile, the HBO show, lorded over by GoT fanboys David Beinoff and D.B. Weiss, must parse this impossibly detailed world into a series of one-hour television episodes. Beinoff and Weiss cheat regularly to accomplish this, by deleting storylines, merging characters, and just straight up inventing their own plotlines. Until recently, a menagerie of message boards and subreddits have attempted to make sense out of all of this. That is, until the arrival of Alt Shift X — who, from what I can tell, is an Australian neurobiology grad student who has found his true calling in detailed graphic explanations of R-rated fantasy fiction.
Alt Shift X indulges in every insane, tinfoil-hatted GoT fan theory, and gives it a full, rigorous, text-based investigation. Here’s one of the more ludicrous ones:
Are you not entertained? Clearly you are — as this channel has become such a mandatory supplemental for GoT viewers that its Patreon has guaranteed the mysterious owner a full-time income — a life free of concern for things unrelated to GoT. But, the question remains, who is Alt Shift X?
Well, it appears that the command alt + shift + x is a hotkey (shortcut command) in Tableau that “Places Selected Field On Rows Shelf.” And what is Tableau?
Tableau is groundbreaking data visualisation software created by Tableau Software. Tableau connects easily to nearly any data source, be it corporate Data Warehouse, Microsoft Excel or web-based data. Tableau allows for instantaneous insight by transforming data into visually appealing, interactive visualisations called dashboards.
So, Tableau parses mountains of data and turns it into visually interesting, digestible graphics. And this is exactly what the YouTuber Alt Shift X, does. He parses the un-parseable, summarizes the vast reaches of Martin-text, the noble family trees, ancient Westerosi legends and devolutionary side character parades into something that we can understand and care about. He is the Game of Thrones Tableau, personified. The Maester of Maesters, with a chain link forged out of Ice and Fire.