Apparently it hasn’t been enough of a gut-wrenching experience to watch beloved characters get disemboweled on the popular fantasy series Game of Thrones, so HBO created an entire traveling exhibit as a firsthand interactive reminder of all the pain the show has caused during the past season.
Simply titled, Game of Thrones: Experience the Realm, the entire presentation is a hands-on walkthrough that integrates comic-con vacationers within several unique visual elements from the show which can later be shared across the vast unending vacuum of social media. After all, there’s nothing like showing your grandma what you might look like as a decrepit ice zombie.
The Game of Thrones Experience is nothing new however as it’s been a staple of the monster-sized SDCC festivities for the past few years now, but I had never partook in the fun. In its infinite wisdom, HBO makes the experience accessible even to those whom didn’t win the random lottery of being bestowed the honor to try and purchase a ticket for San Diego Comic-Con. I remember the good ol’ days when winning a lottery meant receiving something of monetary value, not winning the chance to pay for it. Alas, I digress…
Fortunately, many other entertainment players are seeing the potential of the outside crowds by offering alternative programming and interactive events for the unfortunate walkers who were unable to score a coveted pass to the geek chaos taking place inside the convention center walls.
Regrettably, the lines outside Comic-Con don’t fare that much better than inside. I spoke to a few people towards the front of the line before the experience opened at 11am and they unabashedly revealed they had been waiting since 6am to experience what HBO had cooked up this year for the intimate event. By 10am, the line wrapped around two full Downtown San Diego street blocks and it was a quick reminder as to what I had never lined up for it in the past.
I provided the dedicated line-sitters with some Outlaw swag which proved to be important as I then proceeded to walk past them directly into the VIP line where I waited a mere 30 seconds before my group was escorted through the door. No, the Outlaw didn’t pay off any volunteers – like I could even afford to – and he wasn’t mistaken for Kit Harrington’s body double (the odds of a zombie apocalypse occurring is more likely.) Actually, in my pre-SDCC research, I found out HBO would be handing out a limited amount of VIP front-of-the-line passes to select HBO GO members that registered at the website. One 30 day-trial and about three days later I was informed I was one of the lucky winners. For a guy that has won the equivalent of salt shaker (minus the salt) and a t-shirt 27 sizes too big for me over my lifetime, it was the closest I’ve felt to winning the lotto yet!
Once inside the scarcely-lit room, attendees were taken through three different interactive stations. The first was simply labeled “Torched by a Dragon” and it created a five second video capture of each individual or group getting flame broiled by Khaleesi’s favorite pet reptile. This was the most enjoyable experience of the bunch mostly because the video allowed for some humorous creativity. From marriage proposals to people checking their cells phones, it was all very amusing in the context of being burnt to a few specks of ash.
For those that like their Outlaw well done.
The next exhibit we visited did the job of transforming each fan into one of the shows infamous white walkers zombies. This would have been a great experience if I actually had any proof I went through it. In what looks like a definite case of technical difficulties, the Outlaws snapshots never made it up onto the site. It’s probably for the best seeing as how the undead makeover probably made me look better, and there is no way I could have maintained that appearance for any significant length of time. Fortunately, the Outlaws best friend and photographer Jerry had a few of his transformative photos make it on line, so if you ever wanted to see Rick Grimes as a white walker, now’s your chance.
Last but not least, a sword swinging type activity was setup that led to the creation of an abstract silhouette complete with the Game of Thrones logo. I’m not entirely sure if the way we hit the balls on screen – and that’s exactly what we did – affected how the final photo eventually game out, but it was a fun little takeaway that ended up showing up the Outlaw’s better side (the one where my face is replaced by swords and pieces of armor.)
Of course no Game of Thrones exhibit is complete without the throne itself, and plenty of photos were taken on the extremely uncomfortable seat. While obviously not real, the prop was fair jagged in that it ripped half of the Outlaw’s collectibles off when I tried to stand up.
As we exited the building, we were greeted by two lovely HBO employees whom were handing out free Game of Thrones shirts (two of which will be up for grabs in the upcoming Comic-Con Rewards Giveaway.) It was an unexpected piece of swag, which upgraded the whole experience from interesting to somewhat worthwhile. Overall, I’m happy I experienced the Realm but mainly because my wait time was shorter than the men’s restrooms in the convention center. Despite my love of the series, I couldn’t help but feel that only uber Game of Thrones fans would have considered this year’s Realm worth the wait.
I can only assume that many of those waiting in line ended up feeling that getting torched by a dragon for four seconds was no consolation for getting torched by the Southern California summer heat for four hours.