Plenty of television fans entertain themselves by trying to figure out what might happen week to week on HBO’s popular fantasy series “Game of Thrones.” The fantasy goes a bit further with “Throne Fantasy,” an app built by a group of friends in Seattle.
Daniel Gorrie, a former software engineer at Pioneer Square Labs who is headed to a new job at Stripe, was playing another fantasy league app centered around the show but he wasn’t enjoying the experience. So after graduating from the University of Washington and before starting at PSL, he set out to make a game before season seven.
“The whole idea was to make this for ourselves and just put it out there and see if anyone else liked it. And it turns out other people did like it,” Gorrie said.
The free app attracted 10,000 users for the previous season, and now with “Game of Thrones” in the midst of its eighth and final season, 55,000 people are playing on the app.
Gorrie has been joined on the project by Alex Spencer, Lincoln Doyle, Eric Freistadt, Ryan Drapeau, and Marius Maaland.
“Being a bunch of engineers, we were like, ‘OK, we need to go do this thing consistently, have clear rules, and make it a delightful product that people love to use,'” Gorrie said. “We wanted to make sure that there’s artwork, that there’s illustration, that it’s a crisp mobile app and that people can play with their friends, because ultimately that’s the whole point, right? That’s what makes everyone really excited to use the product.”
The goal with “Throne Fantasy” is to draft a team of characters from the show and to earn points for various things that happen to those characters each week. Kills, dialogue, sex scenes, deception, pregnancy and many more things are worth different levels of points. A character who acquires a dragon, for instance, will earn a player 2,000 points.
Players can join an existing league or create their own.
Gorrie and members of the team watch the show on Sunday nights as a soon as it airs and can have stats and standings updated in the app by as early as 9:30 p.m. PT. After they watch the live episode, they rewatch it, pausing and screen-shotting along the way to handle the scoring.
Gorrie said there are some heated debates and yelling because some of the scoring can be subjective, like whether a piece of dialogue is a joke or not, or whether Jon Snow has acquired a dragon now that he’s ridden one. Fans have been known to quibble, too, messaging the team on Facebook to debate scores.
“We hear that there’s a 45-minute battle this upcoming episode, so that might take a little bit to score,” Gorrie said about the third episode of “Thrones,” airing tonight.
The app features cute illustrations of all of the show characters, done by hand by Freistadt, a designer. Growth has been all organic, with no promotion, and the app has previously hit No. 8 on trending for Android, and got up to No. 37 in entertainment for iOS — “we were above StubHub!” Gorrie said proudly.
And “Throne Fantasy” has even attracted HBO employees, who are playing at offices in New York and Seattle, according to Gorrie. You can still download and play, but there’s a penalty tacked on for joining late, since two episodes have already aired.
Gorrie said the team of friends are “Game of Thrones” fanatics, obviously, and while some of the guys take it especially serious, he doesn’t pretend to have a clue about how the show might wrap up.
“I’ve got no idea. That’s what fun about it,” Gorrie said. “I don’t really care if any of them die, or if all of them die. But I’m rooting for Jaime to kill Cersei, for sure.”