What Is A Cosplayer?

What Is A Cosplayer?

 

Article by: Rogue Benjamin

Geek Girl Northern Belle wrote about what being a "cosplayer" means...

Throughout this article I’ve compiled works of art that I believe encapsulate the ‘play’ essence of cosplay. Yet what IS a cosplayer? As with any etymology one must break down the word at hand to gain an understanding.

COSPLAYER = Cosplay + Er

The suffix ‘er’ is used to form nouns from verbs with a sense of what the person or thing does. (E.g. Cooker – A person who cooks) From this we can surmise that a cosplayer is someone who cosplays. Yet the term cosplay is also so new to our vocabulary that I felt the need to search out definitions and this is what I could find:

According to the Urban Dictionary - Literally "Costume Play." Dressing up and pretending to be a fictional character (usually a sci-fi, comic book, or anime character).

According to Wikipedia - short for "costume play", is a performance art in which participants wear costumes and accessories to represent a specific character or idea. Cosplayers often interact to create a subculture centered on role play. A broader use of the term cosplay applies to any costumed role play in venues apart from the stage, regardless of the cultural context.

According to Oxford Dictionaries - the practice of dressing up as a character from a film, book, or video game, especially one from the Japanese genres of manga or anime.

And last but not least according to Dictionary.com – the art or practice of wearing costumes to portray characters from fiction, especially from manga, animation and science fiction OR a skit featuring these costumed characters.

What Is A Cosplayer?
Cajun Cosplay as Gambit | Geek Girl Northern Belle as Rogue | Photo by Kris Byers

All of these sources seemed to agree that the term came about in the 1990’s, which means we are looking at a hobby that is at most about 25 years old, which all things considered, is not very old. However you know what is particularly interesting about this…? At no point could I find being a costumer or model among the requirements. You know what the means? That even the 42-year-old out of shape man wearing a Superman outfit purchased from Zellers can be an amazing cosplayer. It means that people who are shy, don’t like showing skin or are not fond of their picture being taken can be amazing cosplayers. It means that the gorgeous super models and jacked dudes out there may NOT be amazing cosplayers.

What I found doubly interesting is that while ‘costume’ is certainly part of it what is also clearly emphasized is the ‘play’. Sure some seem a little more condescending such as Urban Dictionary’s “pretending to be a fictional character”, while others like Wikipedia use the term “performance art”. Personally, as an actor, it was this ‘play’ aspect that drew me in. I am a story-teller, have been all my life and will be beyond the grave. Sometimes I tell these stories using spoken English sometimes I use Sign Language, sometimes I use modeling/photography and sometimes I use the stage or film. So despite the fact that I’ve only been in the “cosplay scene” for the past few years, in reality, I’ve been playing around in costume my whole life.

What Is A Cosplayer?
Amanda Dawn Cosplay as Ariel | Photo by Abby Brechner

Lately, however, it seems as though ‘play’ has fallen by the way side in favour of modeling, and costume wearing has been replaced with costume making. Now I would like to take this time to clarify, (although I’m sure many will still get their nose out of joint) that I am NOT saying that professional or skilled costumers/models are not great cosplayers. What I am saying is that superb sewing/crafting skills or stellar modeling skills/having a skilled photographer are not the be all end all of cosplay. What I am saying is that one can have strengths and weaknesses in a myriad of areas and still be considered an amazing cosplayer.

It is important to remember that we all come from different places. There are people out there who work as cosplayers attending the convention circuit and they all have their own personal flair. However more of us are full time students or employed full time in other avenues of life and so our time to work on and ability to fund new cosplays are limited. Some people are lucky enough to have grown up with a parent who could teach them to sew, others have started learning as a result of falling in love with cosplay. Some people are models with access to professional photographers, sets, which makes it easier to make a beautiful glossed finished photo while others do not or cannot afford to do so and take pictures on their camera or phones in and around conventions. Some people are skilled prop makers and choose cosplays that are armor and prop based for that reason. Some people want to use cosplay to become professional costumers, models, prop makers, photographers etc. Other people already are professional actors, models, photographers etc. who have come to cosplay after establishing their craft. Some people have post-secondary training in various facets while others are all entirely self-taught.

What Is A Cosplayer?
That Joker guy as the Joker | Photo by Erin Cossar

In my opinion there is no “wrong” way to cosplay. The hobby is about showing your passion and creativity through the characters you choose to express. It is about playing and having fun. Masquerades and competitions are an amazing way particularly for costumers and performers to show off their craft. Photographs are an amazing avenue for models and photographers. Shorts and Youtube videos are great for those in digital design, film and acting. Some might even argue that text based role play could be considered cosplay for writers. A convention room floor is a great place for a cosplayer of any avenue to find and meet other people like themselves. The best part of this hobby is that there are so many avenues with which you can personally explore each character. There are different ways in which we can challenge our own abilities and grow as artists. So I challenge all you cosplayers and cosplay consumers to remember that the next time you want you to judge a cosplayer.

What Is A Cosplayer?
Kryptonian Cosplay as Supergirl | Babs Cosplay as Batgirl | Photo by Wildbunnyhair Photo Studio's

Article by: Geek Girl Northern Belle - facebook

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March 04 2014



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