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HBO Go’s Interactive Features Perfect For ‘Game Of Thrones’

Michael Hinman explores the iPad app that brings the Seven Kingdoms to life

Well, I admit: I really don’t have a lot of time to read. And while George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” are quietly sitting in the iBook section of my tablet, I just really haven’t had a chance to get into it yet.

So watching the amazing HBO series “Game of Thrones” means, at least for me, that I need a guide. What’s presented on screen about the Baratheons, the Targaryens, the Starks, and everyone else is so fast-paced, it’s hard to keep up. But then there’s the history — loads of history, almost all of it essential to get the full “Game of Thrones” experience.

While I watched the Season 2 premiere with my trusty guide (someone who had read and studied the books), I found that HBO Go offers the next best thing: An amazing interactive guide that allows you to pause the action long enough to get background on characters, families and events. It’s also filled with behind-the-scenes vignettes from the writers, producers and even actors over what we’re seeing at that very moment, and why what we’re seeing is so important to the overall story.

I personally don’t like to have my hand held when watching something. For me, if something is so complicated that it needs to be explained outside the story, then maybe it’s just too complicated.

I went into “The Hunger Games” knowing virtually nothing about the books, except what was presented in movie trailers for the film. I enjoyed the movie. But the next day, I was on the phone with my younger sister and discovered she had actually read the book series from Suzanne Collins. A 20-minute phone conversation opened up so many more doors, that now I want to go back and watch it again, armed with this new knowledge.

So I decided that I would give this interactive app from HBO Go a try. I’ve only tried it out on my iPad, but I assume the Web version of HBO Go offers these features as well (it does). I had already seen the episode, and felt perfectly satisfied with the input from my human guide. However, what HBO Go offers gives so much more insight. I mean, it was like watching an all-new episode for me, and I loved it.

It’s almost like a Pop-Up Video, except with material far more fascinating. I especially loved the inclusion of the family trees — to me the most complicated aspect of the overall story — making it easier to pinpoint who is who to who. And even better, you have the ability to share many of these vignettes and features through social media, like Twitter and Facebook, including some great quotes like “Our enemies hate each other almost as much as they hate us,” and Cersei’s great line from Sunday night: “power is power.”

As a longtime fan of Apple TV, iTunes, Netflix and Hulu, I was not sure if HBO made a good move by creating their own streaming service. But since signing up for HBO Go, I’ve been in absolute love. I mean, you can watch almost any series HBO has ever made (where is “First and Ten” and “Dream On”?), many movies, and the latest episodes within hours of their original airing on the cable channel.

It’s allowed me to get caught up on “True Blood” and “Boardwalk Empire,” and who knows, I might give some other series a try, especially since every episode is right there.

And I’m in love with HBO Go’s interactive features. Not too overwhelming, and the information and details shared were fascinating. It’s a must-have.

I don’t have all the details on HBO Go for those who might be interested (this is a review, not an advertisement). But I get it through my Verizon FiOS service and my subscription to HBO. I simply downloaded the app, and used my FiOS account login, and it was good to go. If you’re not already using HBO Go, at least give it a try, and see if it makes your already amazing “Game of Thrones” experience more fulfilling.

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Could they be a Rut-ro! Shaggy
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