Already Watched The First 4 Game Of Thrones Episodes? You’ve Failed

Already Watched The First 4 Game Of Thrones Episodes? You’ve Failed

Game of Thrones returned to our screens on Monday, and faster than you could say Daenerys Targaryen, eager fans had either watched the first episode via their legitimate cable subscription, or taken to the illegal file-sharing sites to nab their copy. By 5pm, just under 150,000 downloads had been logged, making Australia the fourth biggest torrenting nation in the world for the show.

For the new season, however, the gods of Westeros had something a little extra in store for the nation’s pirating hordes. Illegal downloaders soon discovered that not one but four episodes were ready and waiting on torrent sites, the result of a leaked DVD “screener” which was sent to reviewers in advance.

No doubt this was a real kick in the wallet for legitimate cable subscribing fans, who must chose to either remain above the law and work hard to avoid spoilers for the next three weeks, or dabble in the dark arts of file sharing to keep up.

For many less scrupulous folks this release was no doubt akin to stumbling across a stash of unguarded Lannister gold. In an era of box sets and binge watching, the patience required to wait for a weekly instalment can often be overwhelming. The sweet relief of instant gratification — even if it means no new episodes for three weeks — may be too much to resist.

To others, though, the availability of these extra episodes presents a different kind of quandary. The serialised nature of the show means that for many Monday has become “Game of Thrones Night”, a ritual which brings families, flatmates, partners and friends together to experience the most thrilling, engaging and often shocking drama on television today.

Even more brilliantly, each new episode is preceded by days of mounting anticipation and followed up with analysis and in-jokes that engender a real sense of shared connection on social media and in offices, universities, cafes, shops and bars across the country.

Watching the first four episodes might be satisfying in the short-term, but the price is the temporary loss of that communal social experience.

This dilemma — to consume immediately or to delay gratification for greater reward — brings to mind the famous oft-replicated marshmallow test. Beginning in the late 1960s, American psychologist Walter Mischel and his team gave pre-schoolers a fiendishly simple, yet enormously revealing, test of their self-control.

Children were seated at a table in a stimulus-free room and presented with marshmallows or other treats.

The deal was that the children could choose to eat one straight away, or wait until the researcher returned after up to 20 minutes and be rewarded with two marshmallows. The children would then be left alone with the marshmallows and a bell.

Ringing the bell would bring the researcher back and allow them to eat a single marshmallow, but waiting until the researcher returned of their own volition would mean double the reward.

While the tests had initially been designed to measure at what age the human ability for delayed gratification developed, years later the researchers discovered a much more important result: as adults, those children who could resist the temptation longer did better on their college admission SATs, had higher self-worth and lower drug use as adults, and were less likely to be overweight.

Certainly a debate continued over what it was that led to greater willpower, with studies variously suggesting a relationship to parenting, beliefs about the reliability of the world around them, an ability to find ways to distract themselves in an empty room, or just pure grit. But the fact remains that however they managed to do it those skills or innate qualities led to more benefits in later life.

It would be a stretch to suggest that those who have already downloaded and watched the first four episodes of Game of Thrones would have failed the marshmallow test. And there are other factors at play here — the concern about spoilers being a not-inconsiderable one.

At the very least, the marshmallow test should remind us of the benefits of a developed ability to delay gratification, to postpone short-term satisfaction for richer reward.

In an era of Netflix, Spotify and their less legitimate counterparts, where we rarely have to wait too long to get our hands on the next big thing in entertainment, the pleasure of the increasingly rare shared social experience of the weekly instalment is worth the wait.

And there’s nothing to stop you from eating as many marshmallows as you like while you watch.The Conversation

Ruth Alexandra Liston is a PhD Candidate in Criminology at University of Melbourne.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


  • “Even more brilliantly, each new episode is preceded by days of mounting anticipation and followed up with analysis and in-jokes that engender a real sense of shared connection on social media and in offices, universities, cafes, shops and bars across the country.”

    Even GoT fans have better things to talk about: real things to have a real sense of community.

    • Fair enough, however, talking about GoT certainly isn’t about thing. I find people who are too ‘real life’ about everything all the time get very irritating. It’s good to escape with a bit of fiction and fantasy every now and then.

      • I was not claiming otherwise, but I worry when the bar for real human connection is set so low that you’re a social failure for missing out on talking about a TV show.

        • I suppose it depends what the social trend is at the time. 50 years ago, absolutely. There will always be something in pop culture that dominates so much so that people who aren’t into it won’t be accepted. Always.

          Largely depends on where you live too.

    • Yeah, I don’t watch any show for social reasons. (But if I did I apparently have at least a couple of hundred thousand peers to socialise with). I watch shows because they’re good, and I enjoy the act of watching them.

      I downloaded and watched all four at the earliest opportunity. Glad I did.

      Media with enforced viewing times (e.g. tv) is on the way out, and media that can be watched at any time (e.g. netflix) is on the way in. Sounds like the author is having trouble moving with the times.

  • Article is flat out wrong in its comparison to the marshmallow test. There is no benefit to wiring to watch a week at a time, or delaying the gratification. Only negatives in this case, ie spoilers. This is more like the scientists taking parts of the marshmallow away from the children of they did wait. If there was bonus content for those who waited this might make sense, but it doesn’t. Not supporting the torrenting, just pointing out the extreamly weak link provided by this expert (phd) researcher.

    • Given the amount of binge-watching of shows either via Netflix or DVD, I can’t see the benefits either. I might watch 3-4 episodes of a show and then not get an opportunity/mood to see more for a fortnight.

      It’s different when you have a show with topical content.

    • The other negative is that the argument put forth by torrenters and streamers has imploded. Foxtel locks us in to expensive packages, monopolises the market, forces us to have things we don’t want, we WANT to pay for GoT, but just not through Foxtel. Fair argument!

      As soon as you go and watch those leaked episodes in advance of their release, you shoot that argument in the face at the same time.

      • I never subscribed to that argument anyway. I like downloading/streaming shows for free. I don’t want to pay for them, and I don’t think in the long run any of us will be paying for tv. It is inevitable.

        • Right. so if no one, “any of us” pays for it, then how will TV shows get made??

    • To be fair, she did point out the very legitimate concern about not-waiting for fear of spoilers, but otherwise the rest of the article is kind of entirely about the benefits that you get from waiting.

      The benefits are social, intangible: You get the shared ritual of Thrones Night with friends/family, and you get 6 days of shared/community speculation for every 1 of revelation. If you binge watch, you don’t get the same fresh analysis and speculation. You could, but you’d find that peters out pretty fast if the latest info dump isn’t fresh.

      Now, you or I might not value those benefits very highly, but some people obviously do. It’s a stretch to say they don’t exist. I might not use or care about the gym-membership or massage discounts on my health insurance plan, but that doesn’t mean they’re not benefits or that others won’t find them useful.

    • I think the point is that the ‘bonus content’ is the pleasure of watching and analysing at the same time as everyone else, if that’s your thing. If not, then just watch alone and wait out the four weeks.

      I must say that I look forward to my GoT discussions at work on a Tuesday and the torrent of memes and recaps that fill my feed for the week after. For that reason I’m going to *try* to watch them each Monday until we catch up.

  • I must be watching Game of Thrones wrong. Sometimes I like it. Sometimes it feels cheap and grubby. But at no point is there gratification or sweet relief. It is to me always just a tv show.

  • @memeweaver, GoT is the one thing I had in common with my colleagues besides ‘work’. It legitimately gave us something to bond over and made the workplace more enjoyable.

    My real friends and I will be able to weather leakgate.

  • I just wish I could give HBO my money, and buy the show so I could you know; actually watch it! Seriously in this day and age why cant I do that?

  • What a load of self-righteous nonsense! HBO will still make a shit load of cash and Pirating is not “illegal, something that has been explained on many a comment. Those who downloaded those early shows, will be watching in low definition, which is their loss! Get off your high horse! The only “fail” here is your version of the facts.

    • Pirating is illegal. You are taking something with out paying for it. (If it’s on free to air that means that channel has paid for you to watch it.) the main thing studios forget is most people who pirate it will never pay for it to begin with. So the whole point about illegal downloads costing companies millions of dollar is rubbish. But pirating is still illegal.

    • Of course copyright infringement (aka “pirating”) is illegal. I have nothing against it, I do it all the time, but it’s most certainly illegal.

      Perhaps what you meant is that it isn’t *criminal*, which is true in the vast majority of cases.

  • This is one of the worst posts I’ve read on Lifehacker. Is Lifehacker owned by News Corp these days?

  • None of this applies to me – I’m not paying foxtel and I’m not downloading the first 4 episodes. I’m going to wait until its available in another paid format and get it then. Whether that is Google Play, iTunes or on Bluray.

  • After the whole dallas buyers club lawsuit, i half expect the 4 episodes to be a honeypot

  • FAIL> Heaps of people i know, teamed up and did all four eps, instead of the one. People do binge watch as a group.

  • not a particularly good article.
    Condescending, presumptuous, opinionated and not very well thought out. This would have to be the worst reference to the marshmallow experiment I e come across.
    Didn’t download or watch GoT. Not emotionally invested. More interested in the intellectual debate (which was almost absent).

  • Wow, a lot of defensive GOT fans who couldn’t wait for the second marshmallow! Relax, it is not a personal attack, we’re all conditioned to spontaneously consume. I think it’s called economic growth?

    Damn, it’s hard to type with marshmallow all over your fingers…

    • There is a difference between having a marshmallow now and not getting one later and having 4 marshmallows now and waiting extra time for the next one. For the marshmallow test to be comparable it’d have to be a case of watch four but never get to see the rest of the season.

      I would allow my marshmallows to increase and watch everything earliest chance. And watch again when it officially releases, notice more the second time anyway.

      Also not personally attacking just easier to post on yours. =P

  • I’d admit, I enjoyed watching Game Of Thrones, but I have a serious problem understanding all the hype behind it? It wasn’t anything special, it’s what average television shows should be aiming for in entertainment value. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not saying it’s a bad show, it’s enjoyable, but it seems so over hyped by people, and it comes nowhere close to being as good as they make it sound.

    • You’re right, it is what the average TV show *should* be aiming for, but alas they often fail miserably. People enjoy watching people, especially when there is sex, violence, and easy-to-follow intrigue.
      So, a bit like Big Brother just with added swords, tits and the occasional dragon, and a lot less flat meetings on who’s supposed to do the dishes.
      If MKR started running contestants through when they failed, I’m sure ratings would soar.

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