11 April 2015

I'm not a cosplayer. I have cosplayed in the past, once as Lara Croft and once as Mr Scratch from Alan Wake's American Nightmare. Though I wouldn't really call myself a cosplayer. I refrained from posting photographs online, and some may not even class the latter as cosplay as it was for a Halloween competition. My preferred place in the communities is behind the keyboard; from here I can promote fan projects, write about my opinions regarding the development of the series and revisit old titles. Being behind the keyboard has one huge benefit, I'm an active hidden fan. At any time I can express my feelings and opinions on a matter and write about them on the site, and it's a contribution to a discussion, just like any site or fan project in the community. I'm also not someone you would see in front of the camera, I rarely post photos of myself on the pages and I'm an anonymous face in the crowd at gaming conventions. I just write and though it's often judged (as much as anything online is), I have the ability to influence how I'm perceived slightly, by the words I use. And I'm not a cosplayer but I stand by them.

One thing I've learnt pretty quickly from trying to portray Lara and Scratch is that, cosplay is hard. There's the budget, searching for supplies, buying material, creating your own props, using reference material. Even just finding reliable and high quality reference material can be a challenge! On top of that you're creating a costume tailored to your body shape, researching possible make-up, trying on the costume, making alterations, checking convention restrictions regarding weapons, making further alterations, travelling to photoshoots/events with your costume needing that one final thing which you will do that evening. I know someone who once drove to a convention with the paint still drying on their outfit. That's all before the photography even begins.

The latest Croft Couture featuring the talented Tara Cash.

Cosplaying and sharing your photographs online requires a level of certain level of bravery. More so than making an mean spirited comment in an attempt to discredit a fan's work or their physical appearance. The latter is made even more insane when it's not just a random troll; when people join in because it's somehow now deemed acceptable. It's not.

Last year Crystal Dynamics announced that Rise of the Tomb Raider would be coming exclusively to XBOX, Holiday 2015. The decision is controversial and one which many fans have publicly spoken out against. And while I'm all for passionate posts about the series,  it also hasn't gone unnoticed that these passionate posts tends to be negative and targeted at cosplayers who get spotlighted on the official Tomb Raider channels, especially Facebook.

It's crazy to see the level of treatment towards fans who put themselves out there, sharing with others their passion, just because they portrayed the latest incarnation of the protagonist. Of course everyone has the right to describe their feelings regarding the direction of the series, no one is denying anyone that. But once those opinions turn into personal attacks, it's a different matter. And while the Facebook page is an open forum to discuss the future of the series and give those affected by the business decision a voice, it's not a place for the harsh criticism towards other fans in the community.

The Tomb Raider cosplay meetup at PAX East. Photo from XBOX's Facebook page.

The disheartening thing about recent events is that it's clearly a community issue rather than cosplay issue. A little while ago, XBOX uploaded a series of photographs from the recent official Tomb Raider cosplay gathering at PAX East onto their Facebook page. From searching through the comments a few hours after, almost all of them were supportive, and those which weren't were confronted by numerous members defending those fans. This just isn't the case on the Tomb Raider page. That's crazy!

I've met quite a few cosplayers, both online and in person. I hear about their passion for their hobby, and their excitement when they just finished crafting a detailed and stunningly accurate item for their outfit. I also see what happens after they get attacked online. I have friends who have left the cosplay community altogether because of the feedback they receive. These aren't the comments that can be brushed off easily, it's not fixed by the suggestion that cosplayers should have thicker skin. These are fellow fans who enjoy the series just every bit as much as you or I. They're fans who want to express their passion through a project inspired by Lara's adventures, which they want to post online and share with others for no cost.

It shouldn't be down to Crystal to delete comments such as "Error 80085: BOOBS not found" or "Wtf is up with that snout?" Neither should it be down to cosplayers to grow a thicker skin because of the messages they receive when someone wanted to do a nice thing and share their photos. I'm also completely aware that the audience for this site doesn't include fans who write those types of messages, but there is something that you could do. A new Croft Couture is posted every few weeks, if you own a Facebook account just write a cool message of support, let those attacks become an annoying background noise. It doesn't have to be super long, even an emoticon would do, but in that situation every message of support makes a difference.

Categories: ,


Post a Comment