A game of data

3 October, 2012 (00:55) | data visualization | By: jerome

Inspired by the, well, inspiring set of Lost visualizations released by Santiago Ortiz – Lostalgic, I decided to publish the one visualization on all the data I had gathered on the Song of Ice and Fire series of books.

Click to see the vis

Here’s the idea behind this one. Many books set in a fantasy world come with a map where all the places mentioned in the books are situated. I end up looking up these places very often to get an idea for the distances, for instance. But the way these locations are placed on a map is one specific convention. If two places are supposed to be fairly close from each other on a map but that it is very inconvenient to travel from one to the other, it is as if they were far, and conversely, if two places are a world apart but travel between them is fast and easy, it is as if they were close.

With that in mind I am drawing a subjective map of the Game of Thrones world.
In the books, chapters are broadly comparable. Since all chapters are narrated from the point of view of one character, I link two places between which this protagonist has travelled in the course of one chapter. I also add links for travels suggested in the chapter, even if not done by the point of view character.
Places which are linked are drawn one to the other. As a result, this creates an alternate, abstract geography, where distances represent the difficulties and obstacles in travel, rather than distance in the territory.

In addition the size of the nodes depend on the number of times they are visited in the books. A node could be large even for a relatively empty place, if a lot of the action takes place there, this is true for Castle Winterfell or Castle Black. Then again, large cities which are alluded to in the story, but where not much happens in the books, such as Casterly Rock or Sunspear, will appear as tiny dots. King’s Landing, which is the settings of roughly 25% of the books, and also probably the largest city in this world, is the largest node.

Comments

Comment from Jim Vallandingham
Time October 3, 2012 at 4:06 pm

pretty intense. did you manually collect all this data? I’ve read through all the books – and to stop and analyze the travels at each chapter would be a serious endeavor!

what other plans do you have for all this data?

Comment from jerome
Time October 3, 2012 at 4:17 pm

when I did read the books I planned to do one (or many) visualizations but I wasn’t too serious about collecting the data. So, I ended up having to scrape it from fan websites and from the body of the books which I have in text format. The text however is not super-scrape friendly with 22 different characters named Jon and 28 named Will-something, so this has been a fairly manual process.
The most interesting dataset is the list of what happens to the characters in the chapters (who appears often, who kills whom…). I also would like to plot the evolution of the loyalty of the characters. When one crucial character flips sides, harm quickly befalls to those who trusted them.

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