Puzzling Over Game of Thrones Character Motivations?

ENA Game of Thrones

A new interactive visualization tool created by University of Wisconsin–Madison data scientists helps fans make sense of the motivations of more than 50 main characters in HBO’s hit fantasy series, “Game of Thrones,” based on the books by George R.R. Martin. It is available free for public use at: https://got.epistemicnetwork.org/

Fans have provided countless commentaries about the show, now in its final season with only two episodes to go, on websites and through social media exchanges over the past eight years. Most of their analyses, including those by other academics and data scientists, focus on the large cast of complex and at times unpredictable characters. But a newly released tool created by the Epistemic Analytics Lab at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, within the university’s School of Education, goes far beyond analyses based solely on character interactions or specific events, such as the many deaths.

“Instead, we created a richer data set by using the transcripts of episodes from the first seven seasons, which is almost half a million words of dialogue and scene descriptions,” says researcher Zachari Swiecki, who led the team that built the tool. “Our analysis lets fans explore how each character contributes to the themes of the storyline, and to compare and contrast characters based on the network of their interests and actions.”

The “Themes of Thrones” visualization uses Epistemic Network Analysis (ENA), a tool developed to model how students learn to solve complex problems.

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