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Genese Davis: Heroes of Cosplay

Column By Genese Davis on August 01, 2013

Hot on the tail of Comic-Con, Cosplay is still a buzzing topic. Especially with Syfy’s new six episode docu-series, Heroes of Cosplay debuting August 13th after the network’s show Face Off. When asking avid cosplayers for their take on the show, many of them are wondering if Heroes of Cosplay will portray this cultural act of fandom in jest or as a serious documentary.

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Many cosplayers describe cosplay as “Becoming a live sculpture of your favorite character,” and explain that while cosplay is for the most part a hobby, it’s also a passion, and one of the best ways to show your affinity for the anime, manga, comic book, video game, TV, and film characters that are most memorable or influential.

We also asked cosplayers how cosplaying fits in to pop culture, and if they feel a positive or negative reception from audiences outside of conventions. They agreed that most everyone they meet is very positive about cosplay, even if they have never been to a convention. People admire the ingenuity and detail cosplayers use to create intricate costumes, and are open to and interested in hearing about cosplay culture.

One cosplayer said, “When you think about it, cosplay can be found everywhere. At football games for example, sports fans don their favorite player’s jersey and adopt the mannerisms and catch phrases known by that player. There is an assumption that cosplaying is strictly limited to the worlds of science fiction, fantasy and horror, but that conclusion is incorrect. Fans of football enthusiastically display their team's colors through costuming, make-up and dramatic presentations. Sports fans support their favorite athlete and team, just as cosplayers show their fandom for their favorite characters.”

Professional fashion designers also added to the discussion by saying that cosplay is an important part of fashion evolution, because concept design is a symbiotic circle. The rapid growth in the number of people cosplaying as a hobby since 1990 has made the phenomenon a significant aspect of popular culture. This is particularly the case in Asia, where cosplay influences Japanese street fashion. When creating new anime or video game characters, concept artists can get inspired from Avant-garde fashion shows as easily as runway designers can be inspired from digital media. Looking at the following images, you can imagine various entertainment mediums building off these designs:

When asked if video games have influenced the evolution of cosplay, one fan described their impression like this:

“We’re seeing more and more of our favorite characters from single player games like Assassin’s Creed, and more from our favorite MMOs, but I’d like to see more MMO cosplay in the future. And I’d like to see a bigger presence for online games at conventions like Comic-Con, too. Wildstar, Defiance, World of Warcraft, and Neverwinter had booths and panels where artists and developers signed and discussed games, but I want to see more! The majority of cosplay is still mostly focused on anime, comic book, TV, and movie characters, but I’m looking forward to more video games characters (especially MMO characters) becoming more prominent.”

One of the highlights to events like Comic-Con is seeing all the great costumes and meeting the passionate cosplayers. It’s said that cosplaying can even be contagious. I always thought I’d be too shy to cosplay, but the armor designs in MMOs got me interested. When I first glimpsed the tier 6 priest design in World of Warcraft I thought, “I’d cosplay that in a heartbeat!” Little did I know that a few years later, I’d joined forces with a great seamstress for a Frostmourne photoshoot:

From every genre, entertainment is influencing more and more cosplayers. It will be interesting to see what kind of perception Syfy’s Heroes of Cosplay will ignite, and if this type of prominent media will influence even more people to give cosplay a go. What are your thoughts? Will you be tuning in to watch the new docu-series on August 13th?

P.S. Let’s connect! Find me at GeneseDavis.com and on Facebook and Twitter. Until then, remember: Write at night, game hard, and lark your life. <3

Every week, Holder’s Dominion author Genese Davis opines about MMO gaming, the issues the genre faces, and the power of shaping online worlds.


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