Cosplay is becoming cool, say Aussie cosplayers

Updated April 07, 2019 12:52:48

Cosplayers attending Queensland’s largest regional single-day pop culture convention, say its popularity has grown so much that it is a sign the subculture has become more mainstream in Australia.

Key points:

  • Cosplay is a combination of costume play and role play, where participants adopt the costumes and appearance of characters drawn from fiction
  • Rockhampton-based pop culture event CapriCon, attended by many cosplayers, has grown from just 600 attendees at its first event four years ago to 16,000 attendees in 2019
  • Attendees say its a sign that the practice has become much more popular and is no longer stigmatised as it once was

Thousands turned out for Rockhampton’s CapriCon, an event which only started four years ago but has grown rapidly from just 600 attendees in its first year, to more than 16,000 over the weekend.

Cosplay is a combination of costume play and role play, where participants adopt the costumes and appearance of characters drawn from fiction — typically comic books, movies and video games; it started in Japan in the 1990s.

Adelaide-based cosplayer Clare Beaton, who dressed as Zarya from the online game Overwatch for the event, said it was almost unheard of a decade ago.

“I think we’re just seeing the start of cosplay culture becoming a really huge thing,” she said.

“Ten years ago when I would say I was a cosplayer, people would have no idea, now you can just tell anyone on the street that you do cosplay and they know exactly what you mean.

“It’s definitely becoming more mainstream.”

A full spectrum of diverse participants

Ms Beaton’s passion for cosplay has led her to a career in creating elaborate costumes for a gaming company.

She said pop culture conventions are not just for cosplayers but for people of all ages.

“Kids are always the best because they’re always so enthusiastic — that character that I am is Zarya from Overwatch and a lot of kids play that game, so kids really react well to seeing their favourite character,” she said.

Twenty-one-year-old Gold Coast cosplayer Kaitlyn Sorensen started cosplaying when she was 14 and said it was not uncommon for her to travel hundreds of kilometres to take part in cosplay conventions.

“Back when I started there were no conventions in Rockhampton and you didn’t know there were any other cosplayers in Rockhampton because everyone was hush-hush almost,” she said.

“When I first started …there was stigmatism — it was like ‘oh she’s one of those’ but now it’s so much more popular.”

Ms Sorensen said it has allowed her to speak more freely about cosplay.

“I feel like it’s a wonderful thing that’s its become so big, it just means more people to be able to talk with and do things with,” she said.

Ms Sorensen said cosplay was not without its risks though, particularly when it came to costume-making.

“I know friends who have ended up in the emergency room because of cosplay — the sewing needle went straight through their finger, they lost their nail and everything,” she said.

“That’s what happens because we leave everything to the last minute.”

Bringing cosplay to regional Australia

Rockhampton cosplayer Alexandra Flohr said CapriCon was a wonderful opportunity for those in regional areas to experience the world of cosplay.

“The only places that do the big conventions are the cities, so a lot of people don’t get to go to them because it’s just an unrealistic goal to get there,” she said.

“It’s great to have one here because then everyone else gets opened to it, it’s a great thing to do and everyone should be able to enjoy it.”

Grandmother Catherine Lucas attended the event with her daughter and two granddaughters.

She said it was wonderful to see so many strong female characters at the convention.

“We all need super heroes, we all need somebody to aspire to and they’re actually really good role models,” Ms Lucas said.

Rockhampton Regional Councillor Rose Swaddling said her family had opened her to the world of cosplay and it was wonderful to see so many people in the community taking part.

“Immerse yourself into this — it is truly about the culture of the land, it’s about the people that you’ve read about and it’s about bringing those people to life, in costume and in play,” she said.

Topics: animation, books-literature, design, film-movies, games, events, popular-culture, television, rockhampton-4700, mermaid-beach-4218, adelaide-5000, brisbane-4000

First posted April 07, 2019 12:41:42

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