CosDown 4: Falling Out of Love with Cosplay

Nina, aka Mango Sirene, released a video this week titled "Let's Talk about Cosplay (and the reason why I left). If you haven't watched it yet you can find it HERE, it is a much watch for any cosplayer; in particular those who are making money from the hobby. It is done in a podcast style format and it almost three hours long with a few technical issues; however it is well worth a listen (set speed to 1.25 to help with lag).

Nina is one of my favourite cosplayers, one that helped me through periods of unemployment, sadness and low motivation. I won't lie, just by watching the videos I wished I could be as organised as she was and attend all the wonderful looking US conventions. I looked forward to the con vlogs and still believe it is the best all round entertainment cosplay channel. Yet as the recent video discussed, beneath everything Nina had some serious mental health issues complete with feelings of failure and guilt. She had fallen out of love with not just with cosplay, but also with life.

Tharja/Mango Sirene/J Wai Design
I think this feeling, to varying degrees, is something every cosplayer will face during their time creating. I know I certainly have many times. Life often becomes a priority, rightfully so, and knowing when to cut back is as important as know when to push yourself. Of course I'd love to have a new costume for every con, do loads of photoshoots and run a YouTube channel; but I just don't have the time. As I cosplay mainly video game characters, I often feel the need to complete the game I'm cosplaying because shock, horror, what if someone quizzes me on the convention floor? What if they find out I'm a 'fake'? However, a lot of the time it is either a. play the game or b. make some of the costume during my free time. Running an Etsy store also means sometimes I don't feel like working on my own costumes because my free time is helping other people create theirs! Which is lovely, but not good for your own development when you get burned out before you get to personal projects.

So what do you do when you fall out of love with cosplay? I don't need to describe what it feels like, as well as being personal, you'll know when you hit that plateau. Also do not feel guilty or shameful if you need to take a break or quit altogether. For most of us, it is a hobby, and you need to put yourself as a person first. Hobbies are supposed to be enjoyable, sometimes challenging of course, but activities where you can foster personal interests no matter how niche or strange. Here are a few tips that may help:

1. Change how you work.

Nina mention how she has given up con crunch, if a costume isn't finished for a convention then so be it. I too have adopted this thought for a few years now because I'd rather just enjoy making the costume rather than doing a half-arsed job just so it is finished for a con. Changing how you work may mean re-wearing more costumes or scheduling in a few chunks of the week where you can work on your costumes guilt free. Remember you control your hobby, not the hobby controlling you.

2. Take a break but stay creative

If everything feels overwhelming. Do not feel guilty for taking a break for a week, a month or even years. Focus on something else; play some games that are in your backlog, write that book you always wanted to or maybe paint. Sometimes being creative in a different way helps you to get over an overall flop.

3. Switch off social media

The internet is great for cosplay, seeing what other people have made is such great inspiration in addition to tutorials and CMVs. However, there also comes the drama and pressure to live up to everyone else on the social media feeds. So switch off and ignore what others are doing for a while. Not only will you be avoiding some toxic vibes but also might be able to focus and enjoy your own creations because you are not comparing your progress to everyone else.

Do you have any more tips when someone falls out of love with cosplay? Leave them in the comments below or tweet me!

My Mum Passed Away

I'm sat here, thinking, why the hell am I writing this on my blog? This blog is filled with cosplay, gaming and generally fun stuff. As the title gives the topic away, yes, I have lost my Mum, on Saturday 22nd 2017 aged 60. A Mum who meant the world to me, who has been my carer when I was little and as the years went by I became her carer. I'm writing this here, because as a previous avid diarist (my whole teenage and early twenties are documented, not sure if that is a positive thing!) writing things out is damn cathartic and I have mentioned in passing my Mum, and my role as a carer via social media. It was how I got into cosplay in the first place because it was a creative outlay and a break away from caring. My Mum was also so proud of my costumes and loved seeing them, as best she could. She was registered blind, I'm not sure how much she actually saw, but I gave her props to feel and she used to always say it looked nice before realising yet another costume was covered in blood! Along with my Nana, she taught me the joys of creating, from fabric to wood; my Mum was the person in the household with a toolbox! So, why not write a little bit here? Maybe a fellow cosplayer, gamer or carer who lost their Mum might find some comfort in this post; if that happens then that is more than I can ask for. For now, I just want to write.

My Mum wasn't always so ill, although she had medical issues from as far back as I can remember. Undergoing a triple heart bypass in 2002, I became used to my Mum attending and staying in hospital. She also never hid death from me and much to some people's dismay, we would have some pretty morbid conversations! However I did always tell her off for keeping a spare sympathy card alongside the birthday cards! This attitude has helped immensely, even though it is still so hard right now. For me, it is the half eaten things, the half used shower gels, the bag just dropped on the floor, the single mini tin of beans that I had to buy because she refused to eat Heinz beans like every one else. The house feels paused, it is hard to know what to do with 'things'.

As a carer, my life became woven with my Mum's and suddenly being broken out of that routine is quite strange. Only now do I realise how many times I wrote essays and fan fiction, read journal articles and drank coffees during hospital appointments and stays. Gaming and the internet became not only an escape, but also became a way where I could build skills while still staying within a space where if I were needed, I could be there. I wrote a blog post over " Liverpool Girl Geeks" that showed how I did that. My Mum never really got gaming, but she would always try to understand what was going on, as long as there wasn't too much shooting! Very often, once I finished a game, I would tell her what the story was, she was particularly interested in Life is Strange and they were nice moments we shared. She also introduced me to Pokémon because she saw all the other kids playing with Gameboys and talking about the anime. Though she probably didn't expect to still be buying me Pokémon games for Christmas almost 20 years later! 

What I have noticed quite prominently is how people grieve differently; and how different styles of grieving can clash. All I can say on that is try to be away of other people and try to not enforce your style upon others. I felt terrible that although my Mum only passed away a week ago, that I still wanted to go to Manchester MCM Comic Con. I just wanted to work on costumes and do my PhD annual progress meeting. For me, I felt I should stay at home, but I knew that wasn't what I wanted to do and I know my Mum would have been mad if I didn't go! So yes, I did go to comic con on Saturday and had a lovely day alongside fellow cosplayers and meeting up with people I only see a few times a year. On the Sunday, I stayed with my Dad; we both appreciated how each other grieved and worked it out so we could both get what we wanted. This made is much easier to deal with.

So what now? Of course, a 'new normal' is now starting to emerge. But I am also appreciating the amount of experiences and things to look forward to, even if I don't know what they are yet. My Mum taught me to find pleasure in the small things, so I am going to sign off this post with the wise words of Albus Dumbledore:

Thank you :) and I'll be writing again soon x

CosDown 3: Creating Your Cosplay Handle

I'm sure you have seen around the internet the handles of fellow cosplayers; whether that be '[blank] cosplay', [blank's] closet or any other amalgamation of cosplays and fandoms! But why do cosplayers have them? And how do you create one of your own?

First of all, you do not need a cosplay handle if you do not want one. Especially if your cosplay exploits are kept strictly to conventions with no interest in sharing. Also if you want to use your real name, then that too is completely fine; many people do.

So why have a cosplay handle?

1. They have become part of the community and one of the first questions someone may have while at a convention is 'how can I find you online? or 'how can I tag you in pictures'? So you are not sharing out personal accounts, a cosplay handle with a related social media account helps to get your pictures back to you and helps for arranging photoshoots and meet ups.

2. Privacy. Using a cosplay handle means you never need to provide your full name. Even in competitions, you can ask for your cosplay handle to be announced rather than your name. If you are sharing photos, in particular if you have a professional job, it keeps everything separated. Sure people can piece together accounts, but it makes it just that little bit harder.

3. It helps you to stand out and create a brand if you are pursuing cosplay as a way to bring in an income. I'm not even talking about full-time cosplay here; even if you plan on creating cosplay YouTube videos, having a cosplay handle aids your visibility on the web for your costumes.

4. They are quite fun! They can also hint at the kind of cosplays you do or what fandoms you associate with.

So how do you make one?

There are no hard and fast rules to creating a cosplay handle. I came up with 'Lady Scion' from using Tomb Raider as my inspiration (as that is my main cosplay fandom) so Scion comes from Tomb Raider 1. The Lady part comes from being inspired by 'Lady Noctis' who was one of the first cosplayers I followed on social media and from Lara being a Lady herself. So double the Tomb Raider! My aim was to hint, but not be obviously linked to Tomb Raider because I knew I'd be doing other cosplays and didn't want to pigeonhole myself. So no 'Crofts'! This is a good thing to keep in mind when creating your handle, you may be obssessed with 'Undertale' for example, but will you still be doing this as your main cosplay in two, three years? Here are a couple of points to keep in mind if you are stuck while creating your cosplay handle:

1. Keep it fairly neutral, it is better to hint at an association rather than directly link.  

2. Take inspiration from what you like in everyday life, mash words together, see what works! 

3. Write many names down, you'll know when one just stands out from the rest.

4. Spend some time looking at other cosplayer names, how they are formed and how it works on social media platforms. 

5. Make sure it is pronounceable and easy to spell. I've only just found out the multiple ways of saying 'Scion'. Don't make my mistake! But at least reading you can say it however you like!

6. Don't panic if you feel like nothing fits. It will come in time!

7. Once you have found a name you like, Google to make sure that it hasn't already been taken or links to something unsavory that you wouldn't like to appear when people may be searching for your cosplay. 

8. Likewise, avoid trademarks and copyrighted names. Just in case!  

9. Finally, make sure you like it. Seems simple to say but this is something that attaches to you and your work. So make it something that is special to you.

Finally, MangoSirene also has a fantastic video about cosplay handles that is well worth a watch :)
And you are done! Hopefully this has helped and I look forward to seeing all you fabulous cosplayers with your fabulous handles on social media :)! You can find me on Twitter @Lady_Scion if you have any questions.

E3 Wish List 2017

*Cues music* 
It's the most wonderful time of the year!
There'll be confrences for hosting,
Fans ready for roasting,
And a game will certainly have snow.
There'll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of
E3s long, long ago...


Yes, its is that time of the year again and hasn't it flown again! Keeping it short and sweet because of the musical interlude; here is my wish list (not predictions!) for E3 2017! As with previous years, these are picks on my own tastes so you may find some missing or some you think 'well, that's a bit crap' but me and my narrative loving tastes are hoping for these!

Assassins Creed TBA/Empire/Origin (Ubisoft)
Gamers Greed
 I'm in the mood for something Egyptian and for years I've been waiting for the AC franchise to visit Egypt. There's so much potential for various climbable landscapes, hidden spaces and pyramids to explore, the possibility of an alchemy or magic element, Nile traversing etc. As an added bonus, I'm already there with the cosplay with my Egyptian Assassin, 'Kesi', created in 2014 complete with a back story. So let's hope the rumours are true; it isn't too far fetched with Egyptian elements already built within the chronology with Cleopatra and Pieces of Eden being either found or returned to the Cairo brotherhood. Also, it will be interesting to see if the break has impacted fan anticipation and general development.

The Last of Us Part 2 (Naughty Dog/Sony)
I love the trailer that was released a few months ago showing an older, more worldly Ellie. I'm itching to know, what has happened in those five years and what new challenges Joel and Ellie will face after they potentially threatened human existence by taking Ellie back. So I'm hoping for a new trailer or snippet just to push the story along a little, maybe show some psychological debates, I doubt there being a release date just yet, but added bonus if we get that as well!
The Avengers Project (Crystal Dynamics/Square Enix)
Game Soul
 I'm still not really sold on this, but that may be because we don't have much to go on yet with the style of game this is or how it will fit within the overarching Marvel universe. However, I am still intrigued; so for that reason I am hoping for a new trailer and some new information!

Vampyr (DONTNOD/Focus Home Interactive) 
It is so close to being released I can smell the blood already. Vampyr has been on my list since it was announced and I will honestly try whatever DONTNOD would like to produce because I respect them as a developer. Really hoping the morality element is executed well as that will make for a very interesting game play mechanic and will show me what kind of human I am! We are well overdue a new and good vampire game, so I am wishing for a release date!
Detroit: Become Human (Quantic Dream/Sony)
 If there is something I like more than vampires, it is cyberpunk, AI and dystopian worlds. Alongside Horizon: Zero Dawn, Detroit was one of my highlights from 2015 and 2016 E3. By now, I'm hoping we should have a release date. Not that I have the time to play all these games on my wishlist, but you know, it is always nice to plan out your year and gaze upon the pile of shame!

Cyberpunk: 2077 (CD Projekt RED/CD Projekt)
We have waited so long for something, anything about Cyberpunk 2077 since it was teased in 2013. This has to be the year now with enough time passed from The Witcher 3 and promo campaigns being highlighted on the internet. It has been suggested that 2017 is the year of Gwent, and that information on Cyberpunk will be available 'at a surprising time' so maybe E3 is too obvious; or that there will be some form of innovative announcement that is not necessarily your typical trailer/guy presenting. Let's hope so because I need this game in my life asap. Wishing for a trailer, or even just a teaser trailer.

A new and innovative episodic game (not from Telltale)
The past few years I have really enjoyed playing episodic games, as Lara Croft said 'I'm a busy girl', therefore episodic games make me feel like I've accomplished something in the few hours I can actually invest in gaming. I do like Telltale, especially The Wolf Among Us (I ended up reading the entire comic series of Fables after playing the game) and would not say no to another Wolf game. However, I think there needs to be more developers playing around with the concept as it feels that Telltale is becoming a little too same-same-but-new-IP at the moment. I don't even know what I want narrative wise, but open to whatever could be presented!

Death Stranding (Kojima Productions/Sony)
Shit's fucked up, and I love it. More info please!

Unravel 2 (Coldwood Interactive/ EA)
Xbox One UK
Right, I love my blood covered heroines, psychological mind fucks and dystopian worlds; but I also love cute little yarn dolls that travel through woodlands and streams collecting memories. Yarny stole my heart and it has already been announced that there will be a second game. So we'll probably get a yarny friend (local co-op please!) and I hope there is a Christmas DLC. There isn't enough Christmas content to add to my festive theming and Unravel would be prefect for that. Wishing for a trailer!

Portal 3 (Valve)

Everyone needs a 'never going to happen' Valve game wish for E3, this is mine. *weeps in a testing facility*

So that is it! E3 this year kicks off 13th June to 15th June. There are also many more highlights to come that aren't quite to my tastes such as Microsoft's Project Scorpio and Red Dead Redemption 2 that are bound to make huge waves nevertheless. I'm also looking forward to the memes, how can I not?

Until then, game and tweet on! (while I work on my PhD, :/ )