Hello all my GameSkinny peeps! Isis Daniels here, blogging at PAX East about… well being here at PAX East! Some of you may already know me, but for those who don’t, I’m a Cosplayer from Philly who has been showcased at Dragon*Con, Wizard World, and PAX, married to a game developer who makes me feel extra immersed in the community. I’m also knee-deep in gamer-culture, raised on Mario and Zelda, with fond memories of when sports games were named after their sport (“Ice Hockey” anyone?) but sucked into the world of MMOs of late. Some would say I don’t have a life, but I argue that my life is simply game-centered!
Now then, here’s a peek into the world of a cosplayer at PAX: my days are referred to as “Ivy and Celes” instead of Friday and Saturday. There is a very real possibility that an article of clothing will fall off, my shoe will break, or my intricately beaded sash will become a fall hazard. Still, I get a kick out of becoming my favorite characters for a day, surrounded by YOU GUYS, my people!, who are always so supportive. Better still, the art and hobby of cosplay is really beginning to break into the PAX East con, with several panels teaching less-experienced costumers the tricks of the trade. Wanna learn how to bond resin? There’s a panel for that.
For those who are less familiar with the culture. there’s more to cosplay than “dress-up.” Cosplayers usually have a connection to their character beyond simply having played the game or seen the show. We relate to the character, and see something of ourselves (or perhaps something that we wish to emulate) in the characters we play. That guy dressed as Wolverine is probably self-conscious about being called “short” his whole life. That girl dressed as Harley Quinn might be a quiet “nerd girl” who feels that she is unable to be herself around other for fear of judgement. We embrace this relationship in the most basic and physical sense of the word…. we BECOME them.
So what makes a “goo”d cosplay? Obviously the connection stated above, the ability to truly present the character in a realistic way. It is generally assumed that you MADE your own costume, and if not, you are expected to credit the craftsman. Any props, additions, electronics, and what not in addition to the actual clothing are all ways to show your skill. Everyone can see a cosplayer as a model, but we are also carpenters, seamstresses, electricians, potters, leatherworkers, cobblers, and sometimes even stuntmen! I mean, have you seen Bumblebee?! Now you might be thinking, “I don’t know how to do any of that… but the wearing costumes/having a huge sword appeals to me. Can I just buy a costume?” The short answer is yes (this is called a commission), and be sure to credit your artist. That being said, I encourage everyone to TRY. You learn from your mistakes, as you go. Everyone started out new, and there’s no better complement than presenting your finished project and having others tell you it looks great! It’s like kudos to the end result of the many trades you practice, or receiving appreciation for your art. So go out there and give it a shot! And always remember, it is COMPLETELY appropriate to compliment a cosplayer’s work or ask for a picture!