While all my friends are scrambling to get their costumes finished up for the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, C2E2, this weekend, I'm working on a new Dwarven Cleric character for a Pathfinder game. If you told me a few years ago that I would be trading spandex and wigs for dice bags and character sheets, I wouldn't have believed you.
Those of you who have been reading Alter Ego Maniac from the beginning probably noticed that the blog has evolved from a cosplay/convention blog to one that's more centered around gaming. The truth is, I've slowly been losing interest in going to cons and creating new costumes every year.
I haven't given up costuming completely. I still dawn costumes for the Bristol Renaissance Faire, because somehow wearing modern clothes there feels like a sin. I also think I'll be wearing a costume for at least one of the days at GenCon this summer (GenCon is the largest tabletop gaming convention in North America). My most recent costumes have actually been inspired by my Pathfinder characters, and the Fantasy RPG world in general. Gaming is definitely winning the battle of Hobbies I Care About.
I just don't have the passion I use to have for cosplay, and here are a few reasons why:
8 years ago, when I first started cosplaying, I lived with my parents, didn't have student loans to worry about, and I spent hundreds (probably thousands collectively during my cosplay prime) on costuming props and materials. Add on top of that the cost of badges, gas for travel, food, and hotel costs for staying at a convention. Cosplay is an expensive hobby.
Working on costumes is a huge time investment. There's a lot of research involved before you even start constructing the costume. I had to find reference pictures from every single angle possible, then figure out which materials to use to construct certain parts of the costume. Working full-time, and running an Etsy business is like having two jobs. Time that I would have spent working on costumes/props, is now used to make jewelry, and manage my online shop.
Also when I was cosplaying, I would spend weeks or months getting costumes together, to wear them at a handful of conventions (the more expensive costumes, I wore to every single convention until I got tired of them...just to get my money's worth).
In recent years, being a "geek" or a "nerd" has become the new hot trend. Being nerdy is actually really cool now, and the amount of people attending conventions has increased significantly. I remember being in costume on a Saturday at Chicago Comic Con a few years ago, and it was just wall to wall people.
I was in my Josie and the Pussycats costume, which is just tights and a leotard, and I could hardly walk 10ft without my thighs rubbing against another person, just trying to squeeze pass them in the dealers room (eew! right!?). I went home early that day, and didn't even stay for the costume contest. It was just way too packed to even walk around, which was just frustrating.
4. Group Cosplay
Some of the most memorable cosplay experiences I've had, involved me cosplaying with a group of my friends. Hanging out with your friends, dressed up as your favorite characters, and posing for awesome photos together is the best. It's all the stress that leads up to that moment that I don't miss.
The more cosplayers involved the more likely something is to go wrong. Sometimes there could be drama with who gets to be what character, or maybe there is one person in the group that doesn't quite get alone with someone else. Getting everyone to finish their costume on time, and to meet up for a photoshoot can be a challenge as well. And if you have more than one cosplay group you're suppose to be in during that same day!? Forget it...your stress levels are through the roof.
When you're in a big group you get stopped for pictures all the time. Don't get me wrong...it's pretty freakin' cool. You feel like a rock star, and it's always fun finding pictures online after the con is over. But, sometimes you want to just take a break and stray from the group so you can walk around the convention without being bombarded with cameras.
There was I time where I just started making excuses to not join a cosplay group, and it was really just me not wanting to deal with the stress and drama that comes along with it. I love wearing costumes for fun, without worrying about photoshoots, and schedules. I think I'm just getting lazy, to be honest!
5. Popularity Contest
This last one is more of a pet peeve I have with what the cosplay community has become. When there's a reality show about cosplayers on cable television, you know it has gone mainstream. When I started cosplaying, I practically lived on Cosplay.com. Posting progress pictures, writing on forums about crafting techniques, and I loved that stuff. I didn't have a smartphone, Twitter wasn't even a thing yet, and Facebook was only available for college students (simpler times).
Social Media has completely changed the world of cosplay. It has made it easier to connect with people you've met at conventions, which is awesome. But Social Media has also turned cosplay into an internet popularity contest. Several thousands of people are seeing your photos, and a huge percentage of them are trolling or making inappropriate comments.
Do we really need that many strangers critiquing and criticizing our work? Cosplayer Yaya Han mentioned in the reality show Heroes of Cosplay, "It's no longer a body of work that defines a cosplayer, now it's how many followers they have."
I know that there are still genuine cosplayers out there who still do this hobby just for the fun of it, people who respect it as a creative live-action art form, or who just love to hangout with their friends and meet new people. The community has changed a lot the past 7 years, and I've just lost my passion for it.
Author's Note: Based on some of the comments, I feel like I need to reiterate, I wrote this because the subjects of my blogs have shifted away from cosplaying and convention recaps, and have focused more towards gaming (I even designed the current blog logo to reflect this change). I'll still be going to conventions every once in a while (most likely for gaming, or because I have an artist alley table). But I definitely won't be costuming as much as I use to, and I felt my readers should know why the blog changed. I've found something I love doing more than costuming, and there's nothing wrong with that.