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Behind the Masks and Wigs: NDK 2012 from a Cosplayer’s View

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NOTE: The opinions contained herein do not necessarily reflect the collective thoughts of the Broken Analog Staff!

Most convention reviews speak about the con themselves but as a cosplayer myself I have wondered how the con feels from a cosplayer’s point of view. How the rules affect them, how the staff treats them, ect.

This year I decided to get a few cosplayer point of views on the con. I asked a few people their opinions on NDK and this is what they had to tell me.

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Why Do You Cosplay?

  • I myself cosplay for the thrill of making a character that myself and others love come to life.
  • I cosplay because I enjoy dressing up and being someone else, the theatrical aspect of becoming and performing someone out there’s beloved character, watching those people’s eyes light up when you bring that character or game or movie to life for them… it’s a great feeling and why I strive to do my absolute best in my costumes and my IC expressions on the floor.
  • I love the feeling I get when I can have my costume make someone else smile. I love putting my time, energy (even my entire paycheck sometimes) into making a cosplay come out perfectly. I get a sense of pride walking around in something I’ve made from my heart. I guess in a sense my cosplays become another part of me.
  • I used to only cosplay for the challenge of it. The problem solving required to create a three-dimensional expression of a two-dimensional character. I enjoy that still, but now my focus is more on having fun. I love to cosplay characters I identify with and expressing different aspects of my personality. I suppose I started cosplaying intellectually and then started to loosen up and get less serious about the technicalities. It’s more like playing dress-up to me now… I always feel like a rock star.

In the end everyone cosplays for fun and knows when to compete for the best.

Why Do You Go To NDK?

There are many cons to choose from but there are only so many cons in my home state. NDK is where all my friends are and where I have a better chance to meet new people.

  • It’s a chance to enjoy and support the local community AND all my friends go, so going means I see everybody, even if we don’t get to see each other much through out the rest of the year, we all still have this no matter where we’re going.
  • It’s a very open and inviting environment filled with friendly people. I’ve had numerous conversations with total strangers and later became friends with most of them at NDK. It doesn’t matter if you’re straight, bi, gay, black, white, etc. you share similar interests and that’s all that really matters. People can be as open as they want to be.
  • This was my fifth year at NDK. I go because it’s like Christmas to me. I get to be myself and be surrounded by awesome people who accept me when I go to NDK. I love when con rolls around and I can have awesome adventures. This year, I was a part of the Artist’s Alley, as well.

I think it’s safe to say that the main reason people go to NDK is for the social environment.

Did the change in the rules affect your cosplays and how you portray the character in any way. If so how?

The rules only affected me when I cosplayed Shima from Blue Exorcist. If you know the character you know he is flirt and the con wouldn’t have that so I saved him for Cosplay Chess. Other than that the rules didn’t affect me but it will with some of my planned cosplays in the future.

  • For me not at all. I primarily cosplayed male characters however, so I’m sure that’s a big part of it. I am a bit unhappy with the rules as I know people who have been affected by it.
  • I ended up skipping out on bringing weapons entirely this year. Unfortunately for me my characters all use realistic firearms as their primary weapons while the “OTT” portions of the show belong to others. So rather than paint my pistol Day-Glo Orange as it seemed the rules implied, I just went unarmed except for a smouldering gaze and a couple words in French.
  • Not at all, actually. My only costume that would break the new rules also broke the old rules, so it didn’t affect me.

The rules didn’t affect most people because they removed any cosplays that would break the rules however most of those cosplays removed were cosplays people really wanted to wear and wanted to see.

What did you think of the convention from a cosplayers point of view?

Though cons need rules, the rules I feel are getting really strict for us cosplayers. Although they aren’t coming right out and banning certain cosplays, they are still doing it with the rules. Not to mention with the lack of picture space, it’s hard to see others’ cosplays.

  • It’s always a lot of fun but I saw a lot of mismanagement from my perspective. The costume contest set-up getting out late, panels that are clearly going to be MASSIVE and very popular being put in smaller rooms while more niche panels are placed in larger ones. The Sailor Moon 20th Anniversary being put in Larkspur is a prime example.
  • I only got to cosplay for a little while. I cosplayed at my booth and found it frustrating that I had to keep turning down photos because of the rule of no photography in Artist’s Alley. I also found that people were very demanding of photos. Whether I was carrying an armful of supplies or dragging a heavy suitcase or plopped down on the floor, exhausted and overheating, people seemed annoyed and even angry when I denied them photographs. Some took photos without asking and I felt really uncomfortable. These people didn’t care about me as a person but as a sexy cosplay girl to add to their collection and it really, really showed. I felt really aggravated when people asked me for photos left and right and none had the consideration to ask if I needed assistance or even to help me carry things so they could get a photo. I felt very much like an object. I was treated more decently out of costume, I found!

Most cosplayers find that this con is making it hard to attend and cosplay. A lot of them having given up on cosplaying at the con because of the hardships of getting photos or others and themselves which in turn, made a lot of them just not attend this year.

 

What did you like about NDK this year?

NDK has its ups and downs like any con but the ups of NDK for me had to be the quickest time in for the Cosplay Chess. Normally nothing starts on time but mainly Cosplay Chess and the Cosplay Contest but this year the Cosplay Chess panel started only a few minutes late instead of 10 minutes late.

  • It’s easier to list grievances than positive things with NDK. So much is done right and I have so much fun and get to enjoy such great panels and meet such great people that those rough edges that remain are all the more obvious because what the con gets right is polished to a mirror shine. Having gone to A-kon 23 in Dallas, TX this year I really appreciate the smaller feel of NDK, and the incredible costuming community we have here in Colorado. We might be a lot smaller and almost a decade younger than A-kon but we go toe-to-toe and surpass many cons with the variety and quality of cosplay we have out here.
  • The NDK staff were amazing and always helpful and I can tell they made a lot of changes to the way con is run to make it better for all of us. I really appreciate their thoughtfulness and I wish they were more appreciated. I griped with the rest of them when the costume dress code was changed, but I realize now that they did us a favor by laying down solid rules in the most explicit language possible so we don’t get to con in a costume that took us who knows how many hours just to be told to change. I like that they’re creating solid boundaries for the con as it makes it that much easier to plan for it.

The panels seemed to be the best thing about the con from the people I interviewed. The variety of the panels has expand but the usual panels that people look forward to is always there too.

 

What did you dislike about NDK this year?

For me it’s a tie between the crowds and the staff/volunteers. NDK met their attendants cap on Saturday and everywhere was crowded, even the outside. Although there is only so much the staff/volunteers can do, they could do things nicer. Seemed everywhere I turned some staff/volunteer was yelling at someone. The staff says that if you have a problem with someone to tell Ops. But these past years I have tried and they have done little to nothing about it and by the time you tell them on the forums all they say is it’s to late to do anything.

  • The crowds! It was nearly impossible to move around with lines of people waiting for panels tangling through the hotel and photo ops being staged in walkways. The claustrophobic in me wanted to be out of the hotel as much as possible. Also, there seemed to be huge lines for every event and panel hours in advance. As a member of Artist’s Alley, I couldn’t get away from my booth to wait in line three hours in advance so I couldn’t go to any panels. It was just uncomfortable and I feel like they need a new venue for the convention where we can have some elbow room. I realize the attendance cap was supposed to help this problem, but the cap already allows far too many people most of which wandered the halls aimlessly since they couldn’t fit into panels, events, and even the Dealer’s Room. I overheard one person saying there was “nothing to do,” and I believe there is some truth in that. Unless you devote yourself to waiting in line for the majority of your con experience, you will not make it into any events or panels. The con should be held in the Denver Convention Center which was built for the specific purpose of holding a lot of people for events such as NDK. This would be a big change, but I feel it’s necessary for the sake of the con. It will begin to stagnate unless it is moved to a venue where it can really flourish where the con-goers can get the most of their experience and the staffers and volunteers can focus on safety and general happiness rather than crowd control.
  • Mismanagement and crowding. Seems like we’re getting a little too big for the Marriott to handle. I know we’ve been with them for a long time now but it might be time for a change. No prejudice on my part or the con’s part, we’re just too big for our old pants… or hotel rather.

The crowds and staff/volunteers turned out the be the big things in the end. Although must people suggested to move hotels or go the convention center, NDK can’t move hotels till 2016 and with no hotels attached to the convention center that one is out too. However they should still look for a bigger hotel.

How do you think the staff handled the cosplayers this year?

      As for the staff/volunteers most people suggested that NDK should have some type of screening for the staff and volunteers so that limits the amount of jerks that the attendees have to deal with.

      • Somewhat okay, I think. It felt like the singled people out a lot this year, letting the well-known people get away with breaking the rules.
      •  Fairly well over all. I feel like all the rule updates prior to the con could have been handled better. It seemed disorganized and was obviously very confusing for all of us.
      • I actually thought the staff was better this year about allowing people to take pictures in the hallways. That was really my only problem with them in the past because trying to limit photos to designated areas was just inconvenient and unnecessary

The staff has some improvements to make but they could have been worse this year.

 

Overall NDK has ups and downs for cosplayers. It’s a fun con but some major improvements need to be made and soon. If given a chance I would recommend going to NDK and seeing for your self if it’s a con you would go to or not.

 

The cosplay community has given NDK 2012 a 7/9 rating.

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