On the Fandom Road: A Wizard Finds a Home

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My journey down the fandom road to the end of Game of Thrones is one that I can’t believe sometimes. Despite my focus on A Song of Ice and Fire, I first got into the TV show. At the time, I was working a terrible job and struggled daily for mental stimulation. Sometimes I would listen to podcasts or music, or browse the warcraftlore board on Reddit. For a lot of my twenties, I was a heavy World of Warcraft player and really enjoyed reading the lore behind the game and trying to guess where it was going next. Sometimes I enjoyed that even more than the game.

I struggled with loneliness and depression after flunking out of college and had become isolated. I took that terrible job to keep up with my student loans (on a degree I didn’t have, for the extra sting). I’d sit day in, day out, with headphones on passing the minutes until I could go home. One day in my boredom, I came across this hot new TV show being advertised on HBO: Game of Thrones. It looked to be a medieval-ish fantasy story. Sounded interesting, although I rarely enjoy live-action fantasy; too often the magic and fantasy aspects come off as corny or unbelievable, or trying way too hard to be Lord of the Rings.

I watched one episode, and something odd happened. Normally when I watch television, even new things, I can predict with fairly good accuracy what’s going to happen next. It’s basically ruined all mystery and detective shows for me all my life. Yet with that one episode, everything that happened surprised me. I struggled to understand what the point of the episode even was. It made me think, and wonder, and try mentally in a way I hadn’t in a long time. I was challenged by what I saw.

Arthur Dayne Tower of Joy

And so I went looking for more information. Reading wiki articles, watching YouTube videos explaining the basics, and watching a few more episodes. One night I started on one wiki article and then it was 3 AM; I had spent the whole night starting from Ned Stark, and ending up reading about House Dayne and their most famous son Arthur Dayne. It was like waking up out of a stupor. Eventually I found my way onto the asoiaf board on reddit and began reading these long essays and theories about the show. And wait, books? There were books too?

And what were these essays about? Characters I had never heard of, plots that went over my head, and endless pages of analysis and reading. It was a mental paradise compared to where I was previously. And it all snowballed from there. I began contributing my own essays, talking with fellow fans, learning more and more and discovering there was almost no end to what new information could be had. I was invited to become a moderator of that same asoiaf board, and found myself in an absolutely wonderful group  of people who were all much smarter than me and eventually close friends.

My big break, if you can call it that, was like most things in life a stroke of luck. My cousin (a big ASOIAF and Game of Thrones fan with a memory that makes mine look shabby) and I were at his lake house up in Maine talking about theories that would one day become my essays, drinking beer and looking over the lake. On Twitter, I noticed that someone else in my timeline was also posting about being in Maine. That was our beloved editor-in-chief, Sue the Fury. Normally I’m very shy, even through social media, but the beer was talking for me and I started up a conversation with her about Maine and how great it was, and somehow I ended up writing an article for Watchers about Bran Stark’s issues with becoming a demi-god.

If I’ve learned anything though, I know nothing and we all should listen to Sue. If it wasn’t for her, I’d be posting long essays about direwolf magic powers on a WordPress somewhere no one was reading. I’ve been a big fan of YouTube for a long time, and wondered about how I could make my own, but wrote it off as a pipe dream. Sue told me to believe in myself, that people love my writing, and to give YouTube a try. So I started a YouTube channel.

Manu, Bookshelfstud, and JoeMagician at Con of Thrones 2018

Manu, Bookshelfstud, and JoeMagician at Con of Thrones 2018

And going to Con of Thrones- public speaking is terrifying, and nobody was going to know who I was. I’d just be some guy up on a panel or two trying not to freak out about everyone watching him stammer through obscure ASOIAF lore locked somewhere inside my head. Sue encouraged me to go, told me I’d have a wonderful time, and then put me on panels. And she was right- it was one of the best weekends of my life. I met so many friends that had previously only been usernames and Twitter pictures, discovered that not only did I like speaking about Game of Thrones, I was pretty good at it, and felt like I belonged somewhere. People even recognized me from Maester Monthly and my own YouTube videos. They were nodding along as I spoke up on the stages, and I got to see in person what it is like when you reach someone with a theory or analysis. One guy even asked to take a picture with me to show his wife that he had met me, which was maybe the most surreal thing in the world to me. So when Sue the Fury comes knocking for you to do things, say YES.

Through Game of Thrones, I found what my life had been missing: passion. For literature and analysis, finding myself in the stories of Aemon, Dunk, Brienne and Jon, connecting with other fans and discovering it doesn’t just have to be me on my own, reading articles late into the night. Trying new things, learning how to write and make my own YouTube videos and podcasts- I’ve found through this fandom and the wonderful fictional world of Westeros a thing that I can give back to others with, a hobby that actually makes my parents proud. Game of Thrones is ending, as all things must, but I don’t feel down or morose. There will be another new challenge after this, more skills and information to learn, and people to meet.

And The Winds of Winter is around the corner, right? Right?!

24 responses

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    1. JoeMagician, you are the best! I only wish that I had discovered your videos before this year. I love your detailed and deep analysis. It is soooooo interesting!

      I HOPE Watchers will not disappear!

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    2. So when Sue the Fury comes knocking for you to do things, say YES.

      Well life is sure easier for me when people say yes, so sure, spread the word! But seriously, you were another easy choice.

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    3. Thanks Joe, I’m glad you connected with something that brings joy to yourself and others! The articles you write bring additional depth to the whole GOT experience, so thank you! It is wonderful how this site is such a “win-win” for the writers and readers. Looking forward to what you do in the future! And yes, there will be books! (a girl is hopeful!)

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    4. Great article, thanks for sharing. And I can’t wait what’s in store next after game of thrones ended. Maybe winds of winter. We call all hope it happens soon.

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    5. Thank you JoeMagician! Your journey is inspirational and I’ve always enjoyed your longreads here on WotW, especially your speculations.

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    6. I have enjoyed your posts here, your comments brought interesting perspectives and added to my enjoyment of both books and show. But didn’t realize you had more I could read! Add all that to my summer list!

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    7. Love your analysis and looking forward to your panels at the Con! It is going to be so hard to choose among so many great sessions.

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    8. I’m not weepy… Nope, no ser ree bobby b… Not me.

      Just a little Kings Landing ash in my eye.

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    9. Lady MarMar:
      JoeMagician, you are the best!I only wish that I had discovered your videos before this year.I love your detailed and deep analysis. It is soooooo interesting!

      I HOPE Watchers will not disappear!

      The Watch continues 🙂

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    10. onefromaway:
      Thanks Joe, I’m glad you connected with something that brings joy to yourself and others! The articles you write bring additional depth to the whole GOT experience, so thank you! It is wonderful how this site is such a “win-win” for the writers and readers.Looking forward to what you do in the future!And yes, there will be books!(a girl is hopeful!)

      We’re glad to have you! Brings a lot of joy to share with you all what I think. There will be books! Hope springs eternal 🙂

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    11. Thank you so much for sharing, JoeMagician. In response to Brandon… I certainly can’t speak for the mods, but many of us in the fandom did, indeed, find this site and/or this fandom during dark times in our lives. It makes sense, really—for me, I was unable to find work in my chosen field, had isolated myself from my friends because I felt like a failure (I still do, many days), and as I’ve always done, I took solace in the things I love (literature, art, film). No one physically close to me was the über-fan I am, and like Joe, I started out just reading about the characters and getting sucked into this beautifully detailed world and fan theories written by intelligent, articulate, passionate people. When I found this site I knew I’d come to my Internet “home”; I was blown away by the intelligence and civility of the discourse, the diversity of commenters participating, and the wealth of knowledge and personal experience shared by the group as a whole. Having recently graduated from college (at 46, the oldest in my class) and lost a truly extraordinary community of fellow students, this fandom was a godsend. It still is.

      I could write much more, but if you’ve made it this far I’ve probably bored you already.

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    12. Joe, you are indeed an inspiration on You Tube, here, and at Con of Thrones. You really nailed what it is to be in our community. What the books AND the show do so well is CHALLENGE us! I’ve never seen a group with such intelligence combined with passion as this fandom. And even though we are literally hours away from the ending, none of us have a clue what is going to happen! What is going to occupy my brain when I’m not thinking about theory this and character that???

      And yes, when Sue asks, say YES!

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    13. Brandon,

      300 million people in the world have depression, but sure, get cute. Look forward to you telling me you were “just kidding.”

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    14. I am a latecomer to youtube channels and I have a few that I now subscribe to and yours is one of the best. I first found you when I listened to the Nightfort live stream (not live when I heard it) and I really enjoyed it. Anyway I now get notifications when a new one goes up. As a fan of the books and TWoIaF etc I find your posts intelligent and interesting, so keep up the good work.
      All notifications off for now I’m in the UK and won’t see GoT until tomorrow night. I don’t want spoilers 🙈🙉🙊

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    15. Thanks for another great piece, JoeMagician. Can’t wait to read what you think about the prequels(s)!

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    16. thank you joe! I really appreciate all the work you have done for this website, and currently you are my favorite youtuber for game of thrones related content. I think you have better a better naration style than even In Deep Geek or anyone else on youtube. You really can get to the emotional core of things which i think is common of people who have experienced depression throughtout their lives (including myself). I have been anticpating this article for a number of weeks and i found it to be very compelling! I will be here for all your future work on GoT. This article will be my final read before the finale of the show, and i can’t wait to see you in your live stream afterwords!

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    17. Sue the Fury,
      Thank you.
      Wolfish,
      Your words echo so much of what has been my own experience.

      I found GOT shortly after loosing my job, sacrificed to one of those “restructuring” exercises.
      Getting another job in my niche line of business was complicated, so I was contemplating leaving friends and a serene life to earn a living in yet another foreign country. One evening I stumbled on the very first episode: Jaime pushed Bran out of the window, and it was a punch in the face.

      Never heard of the show before, never heard of the books, never before did something similar happen to me. As Joe so well puts it “Through Game of Thrones, I found what my life had been missing: passion“.

      WiC first, then WotW, came a couple of years later, while I was struggling with a new job I did not like, in a new city that was doing its best not to be liked, and, top and foremost, with the loss of my dad.
      The WotW community became a daily companion and helped me through that dire period of my life. I never was active in commenting – a character thing – but this has been like a safe harbour for me.
      Thank you to Sue, Oz, Luka, Joe, Axey, Petra, Geoffery, Samantha, Vanessa, Patrick, David, Akash, and those I’ve surely forgotten, and to all commenters like Ten Bears, Wimsey, Wolfish, Dee, Tensor the Mage, Alba Stark, Talvikorppi, Pigeon, Che, Mango, Clob, Mr Derp, who helped preserving this oasis of civilization and reasoning in the Internet maelstrom.

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    18. Joe, this is my first time posting here on WotW, in fact, it has been many years since I posted anywhere. I found your story very moving, very inspiring. I wanted to take a moment to thank you for sharing it. I know from personal experience that opening one’s self up to strangers is not easy. As Tyrion said in the finale—I’m sorry I don’t recall his exact words—stories matter.
      That is, OUR stories matter, for we are those stories. The communal sharing of stories is as old as humanity. A website such as WotW allows us to partake in the grand telling of The Song of Ice and Fire as a shared experience around the digital campfire. No less important though, are our own individual stories, which are in fact, journeys. And it is by sharing our stories and by partaking in other’s stories that we are connected to one another. It makes me happy to know that you’ve come out of a period of darkness and into something much better and rewarding. I don’t know you, but you certainly seem to have come a long way. I look forward to reading more of your words.

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    19. Consider the GOT a chess game where the kings sit back on their buts and let everyone else do the dirty work. It kind of helps. Everyone who is mad about who the king is, it should have been obvious. THE ONE SITTING AROUND ON HIS BUT LETTING EVERYONE ELSE DO THE DIRTY WORK. Sorry about the silent scream I feel much better now. So yeah the ending kind of makes sense.

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