As a person who has worked in the media since High School and remembers the dawn of the Internet, I have seen all sorts of trends come and go. I remember the rise and fall of the dot.com bubble and sadly the rise and fall of many gaming and film sites.
During my coverage of conventions and my work in gaming I naturally come across many Cosplayers both professional and amateur and have always marveled at the skill and dedication they take to their character creations especially in the makeup and costume design.
In recent years we have seen a rise in professional Cosplay or those who do it for financial reasons, and while I applaud those who can make a living out of their hobby and passion, I have also seen a rise of behavior that is fairly disturbing to me.
I will not mention names in this article as of course everyone is entitled to a bad day and for every bad example there are dozens of good examples. That being said, certain things do not sit well with me. Some appear to use the gaming fans simply as a way to get greater financial success as well as improve their modeling and other aspirations.
Case in point, I know one who makes a habit of posting pictures of herself in tight tank tops on social networks often plugging her latest podcast or unboxing video from some hardware she was sent. Usually her posting of something as simple as this is me just waking up gets a few hundred comments telling her how brilliant and hot she is.
Recently she started to post that she did not like some of the comments that were being posted and that her boyfriend did not appreciate them either. To me this is a very tough situation as by all means there is never an appropriate time for rude and crude comments about a person, especially one that many of them do not know. That being said, you’re posting pictures and videos of yourself in skimpy and suggestive attire and poses to attract attention to yourself and further your brand. Ok, that is business, I get it. However when you go fishing for compliments, do not be shocked when you get attention that you do not want. Report the individual, block, them and move on. Do not make a big deal about it.
Another one I fondly remember was at San Diego Comic Con and while I was doing an interview with Tom Jane and Tim Bradstreet at their booth was glaring daggers at me the entire time. It seems they had done one of their many costume changes and came to the booth to be photographed. When they did not happen as people had gathered to watch me do the interview, I guess I was the bad guy.
A publicist at the booth said it happens and to just ignore it as some people get mad when they do not get the attention they expect.
I could go on and mention one that lobbied for an interview, got one and then failed to do their part to promote it, or the one who was posing at PAX Prime in an amazing outfit but was sneering at some fans that asked for a photo and was doing it with an attitude.
My point is that the Cosplay people are that, people first and foremost. They have their good days and bad days like all of us and unlike many of us they have to deal with a different form of hate. We deal with trolling and industry garbage, and they deal with that as well as the duality of needing to sell an image and themselves to further their brand and career aspirations while dealing with an endless sea of online pervs. It is almost like having to bite the hands that feeds you as the online community is what enabled them to rise up and reach their goals but at the same time brings a level of discomfort and for some, contempt that makes it appear like the game is less about the fandom and more about dollars and cents.
To the talented individuals who devote much of their lives to this endeavor, keep up the good work and we look forward to seeing what you do next, but understand, when you ask for attention, do not be shocked when you get negative attention and criticism from some journalists who believe your efforts undermine legitimate gaming reviews, which sadly caused much of this Gamers Gate trouble.
People work very hard to establish themselves in this industry and they can become very frustrated when a gaming company ignores them to fawn epic amounts of praise and review items on a Cosplay individual yet pesters the journalist over and over to promote a game pre-release. It is an industry of trends where companies, sites, and individuals come and go, please remember that the key is to be there for the long haul and not appear like a person trying to make a fast cash grab at the expense of the fans and genre.
Print and broadcast journalists often had to follow a rigid set of standards to be taken as credible but as the recent trouble at NBC shows, in a competitive industry, things are bound to happen and it is more important to have good friends and a good reputation over the long term than a fast rise and fall.
Thank you for reading and I appreciate your thoughts.