SXSWesteros: Where 'Game of Thrones' Fans Go for Interactive Sword Training

SXSWesteros - H 2015
Courtesy of Civic Entertainment Group

SXSWesteros - H 2015

HBO set up the exhibit in Austin to give 'Game of Thrones' fans a chance to test their sword-handling skills.

For a few short days during South By Southwest, HBO turned downtown Austin into Westeros. 

Ahead of the season five premiere of Game of Thrones, the cable network invited fans to SXSWesteros, where they could channel Arya Stark and sit on the Iron Throne. 

The main portion of the exhibit was an interactive sword-handling game. Attendees would have their portrait taken before standing in front of a 10-foot projection screen on stage. Then a game would begin where attendees were asked to hit targets on the screen using a replica of Arya's wooden training sword. As the players hit more targets, their profile photo would begin to appear on the screen. The more accurate the hits, the more filled in the photo became. At the end of the game, fans could email themselves copies of the photo. 

The interactive experience, created in partnerships with Red Paper Heart and Civic Entertainment Group, used wireless motion sensors embedded in the swords to measure the trajectory and velocity of each swing. Based on the accuracy and direction of the strike, corresponding graphics and a random pairing of icons would appear on the screen, creating a unique portrait for each person who played the game. 

Joanna Scholl, vp program advertising at HBO, said SXSWesteros was designed to "build anticipation and excitement" around the upcoming season of Game of Thrones and "reward fans of the show with a unique experience befitting a technically savvy audience." 

"For us, it is important to continue to find ways to surprise and delight our loyal fan base by making them a part of the world of the show, and they seemed to really love it," she added. 

The exhibit also featured tastes of the new Game of Thrones-themed beer, a Three-Eyed Raven Dark Saison Ale from the Ommegang brewery, and prizes based on the new Catch the Throne mix tape. 

Game of Thrones premieres on April 12 on HBO.