Game of GIFs

Game of Thrones, aka; death, war, icy dead people, sex, more death and in case you forgot about it- death, but that of your favorite character. It’s a harsh world for Game of Thrones fans with so much heavy content and little break from the different kinds of action provided on screen. The internet captures the content of this book turned TV show in small, bite size pieces with GIFs (though some of those bite size pieces are hard to swallow when it captures the precise moment of death or loss). Thankfully, GIFs don’t just capture the painful moments. They have other uses, capturing humorous moments wherever they may lie amongst the bloodshed to give some comic relief and make the story easier to connect with for those who didn’t grow up in a world of throne wars and dragons.

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Humorous and remixed GIFs in Game of Thrones have an important function in expanding what the show itself can do, as GIFs can do with any media form. Reaction GIFs spawned from the witty (or the opposite) moments make for good ways to share both a love of the show and converse a recognizable reaction to other people. GIFs and memes have become a part of our culture, things to share and connect over. “Sharing, imitating, remixing and using popularity measurements have become highly valued pillars of participatory culture” (Shifman 22). GIFs highlight the aspects of something that we can connect with. While our world doesn’t have real dragons, we do have real attitudes…

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and eye rolls…

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These are things we can connect with, recognizable social cues that can be shared and remixed to fit our needs.

Shifman goes over three prisms of use with memes and GIFs. The first prism is economy driven. If it’s easy to replicate and change then it has better chance to succeed. GIFs promote the subject and draw more attention to it while also participating in the other two prisms. The second prism deals with how memes and GIFs create themselves and participate in “shaping social networks” (Shifman 33) By creating or changing the content users are showing they are “digitally literate, unique and creative” while sticking to the relation of the media subject (Shifman 33). Game of Thrones fans can take a scene and enhance its humor according to the original plot…

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Or add in a bit of their own ideas…

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The third prism considers GIFS, memes and “the cultural practices surrounding them” (Shifman 34). Remixed GIFS “blur the lines” between “private and public, professional and amateur, market and non-market driven activities” because they can exist on either side (Shifman 34). One can make it for themselves, or to show the public, with any status of professionalism. The remixes aren’t necessarily made to promote the show or drive any sort of economy for it. They’re there to enjoy, enhancing the experience and connecting to whatever situation they’re applied to.

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No matter their purpose, GIFs can add a lot to a conversation or a media experience. Capturing bloodshed or humor alike, they’re still another aspect of our changing culture and approach towards media. Everyone can use them, view them and change them to connect with the media (Game of Thrones in this case) or with each other, sending Cersei’s eye roll to an unfunny joke or Sansa’s slap to someone about to get the same treatment. Or question their humor as with my GIF below.

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Sources:

Shifman, Limor. Memes In Digital Culture. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2014. PDF.

Click on images/gifs for source.

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