Hitchhiker’s Guide To Westeros

Hitchhiker’s Guide To Westeros

Westeros is a beautiful island. And just as deadly. Hitchhiker’s Guide and Westeros? What will that be? A travel guide? Let yourself be surprised! Don’t Panic! Welcome to my first blog!

What is this all about?

The final assignment to earn my nanodegree in Data Visualiszation expects me to write a blog. A blog about the things I learned. A blog? I don’t have a Facebook account, on Instagram I only read along with travelogues about the Arctic, and in general I don’t think much of “social media” and dropping my virtual pants in posts.

A blog then. The task was to select an existing dataset from MakeoverMonday, analyze the visualization behind it and describe what is good and what is bad — to then develop an own visualization or story that improves the existing visualization. And the blog, of course. I get to share the project, blog and write about my findings.

The first step was to pick a dataset on MakeoverMonday. During the nanodegress, I had to deal exclusively with datasets that had something to do with KPIs, sales, environment, energy. MakeoverMonday also offers many sources on these topics. But again the same thing in the third rehash? Please don’t. While I was browsing through the topics and didn’t find anything appealing in 2021…. and 2020 nothing appealing… and 2019 nothing… yet! “Game of Thrones Deaths”

I enjoyed reading the books. The TV series wasn’t bad either and even thrilled my wife — and that’s saying something. And the database was something completely different. That’s why I decided to go with this data set. I identified the visualization as the first step of the project. You can find the visualization I chose to develop below:

What works with the initial visualization?

  1. The title is clear and intriguing.
  2. The colors follow a medieval scheme with the parchment scrolls and red as the favourite color (for blood).
  3. All descriptions and headings are horizontal and easily readable.

What could be better with the visualization?

  1. The visualization is very complex, showing at least 7 charts or visualizations at once.
  2. Legends on some of the charts are missing.
  3. The choice of colors is too colorful in places. Fewer colors would enhance the visualization.
  4. The visualization shows images, but some of them are too small to recognize details.
  5. There are few opportunities for interaction.
  6. The viz is more a leaderboard.
  7. No story.

Data Preparations with the set

I downloaded the file from

The only changes I did: The file had no extension. I tried to unzip it and figured out from the contents, that is must be in Excel format. I added the .xlsx extension and started in tableau.

My improvements with the visualization

  1. In my opinion, the original visualization is too overloaded. That’s the main point I’ve been tackling.
  2. The amount of colors was reduced and also color tones were adapted, with which also people with visual impairment have no problems.
  3. I would like to use the data to tell a story. So I turned the leaderboard into an interactive travel-log. Welcome to Westeros!

Result: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Westeros

The title of my visualization is, of course, a reference to The hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy. I like Douglas Adams and his very special sense of humor — and I wanted to incorporate some of that into the macabre nature of the data set. How can one survive unscathed a vacation in Westeros, a land where murder and manslaughter are the order of the day, ethics and principles don’t apply, and yet with whose way of life one has, funnily enough, become friends the further the story progresses.

Slide one: Introduction to Westeros

The title of the project, a welcome to all visitors and a glimpse of what to expect.

Slide two: The most deadly locations in Westeros

Let’s face it: what is more important than knowing where it is better not to go in a foreign country? The deadliest locations are displayed in a bar graph, as are the number of fatalities and the locations of the locations on a map. The user gets more information by moving the mouse over the elements of the diagram.

Slide three: Favourite methods to die in Westeros

If you want to protect yourself from your unforeseen demise, you should know what you are dealing with. The third slide shows the visitor the most common causes of death and describes how to avoid them.

Slide four: Crime rates in Westeros

You rarely die on your own in Westeros. As a rule, someone else is responsible. At this point I did a little reframing in the story. Murder is not legitimised by the fact that you are the ruler of a kingdom and can do as you please with your subjects. Murder is murder. Mass murder to intimidate your subjects and enemies is terrorism.

Slide Five: Seasons in Westeros

Did you get it? Season! Another little double entendre to distinguish seasonal travel to Westeros from season/episode. So, when is the best time to travel to Westeros? When there are few deaths!

Slide six: About

Nothing spectacular on this slide. I could even resist to style it like an imprint of a tour or travel company.

Limitations and Biases of the dataset

The most important information about the dataset is the way it was compiled: Death had to be visible on the screen. In this way, some counts are missed, which are revealed in the course of the show but are not included in the count. For example, Littlefinger comes off far too well this way — after all, he had his by no means small fingers intriguingly involved everywhere.

Even the undead brought back to life do not count as kill. This makes the death statistic somewhat less precise, but on the other hand no undead can be counted twice or more.

I would have liked to do an animation with the dataset: a death race with animated bar charts. Unfortunately, the data would have had to be restructured a lot for this, so I did without animations in my story.

This means that the dataset is actually subject to the same restrictions as any other dataset: the creator has his own ideas and views on which data are relevant and only records these. After all, even these data — in my opinion — can be used to tell fantastic stories.

My Tableau Data Story

Please find my story at