Game of Thrones returns to HBO for its final season on April 14th, ending our collective journey with Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, and the many Stark children. The show’s strength lies in a varied cast of fan-favorite characters, but there’s one face you won’t be seeing in Season 8 — George R.R. Martin himself. The creator and author of ASOIAF claims to be just too busy to make an appearance in his massively successful series.
It’s been many years (7+) since the release of A Dance With Dragons, the fifth book in the series, and Martin’s long-running struggles to write the sixth book have become an internet meme. The man is a paradox — busy with writing, but unable to get any writing done.
But we’re not here to pass judgement on a man that created a beloved series. Instead, we’re here to look at a curious Easter egg from a long time immemorial; a time when Game of Thrones wasn’t the biggest series on television. In the halcyon year of 2012, George R.R. Martin stepped out of his writing cabin and voiced a video game character — himself.
One of GRRM’s few acting credits on IMDB, this Easter egg appearance is actually a lot more elaborate than you might think. The cameo comes from Game of Thrones, a 2012 video game that’s loosely tied to the TV-series, but casts the player as one of two completely newly invented characters. No, we’re not talking about Telltale’s Game of Thrones adventure, this is an action-RPG — sort of like Dragon Age 2 with uglier characters.
The game released concurrently with Season 1 of the TV series. It didn’t exactly light the world on fire. The game is incredibly humble for a video game based on one of the premier fantasy epics of our time. You wander around dank castles and talk to people, periodically getting into action-lite RPG battles. It’s the definition of a Xbox 360 era console RPG.
The fact that the game is so ordinary lends George R.R. Martin’s cameo into something special. The man is recreated exactly, playing a character named Maester Martin — this isn’t just a cameo, this is Martin, playing himself as if he were a character in his own series. That’s some Metal Gear Solid Kojima inception.
He voices himself, and even discusses his strange eyewear. That means there is official canon lore that George R.R. Martin himself exists in Westeros, and that his big modern glasses aren’t just store-bought from Lenscrafters — they’re fantasy spectacles too.
There was a time when George R.R. Martin was excited about cameos, and happily made time for them. It appears that enthusiasm has dried up for S8 — or maybe he just thinks a cameo might be too tacky. I have no idea, but this little-known cameo is still pretty amazing.