Ones real life identity tends to be irrelevant in the culture of gaming, RPG’s (Role playing video games) such as Final Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons and WOW allow an individual to portray themselves however they please through their character in the fictional world. Reflect your real life morals or go against them and be someone entirely different – the choice is yours. There are two specific ‘groups’ within this RPG culture, they include WRPG (western) and JRPG (eastern). The western culture RPG’s tend to be more system/rules based with darker realistic graphics, however Eastern RPG’s are generally action/story based with brighter anime-like graphics and intricate plots.
Regardless of their cultural differences, role playing video games are peripheral to the art of cosplay in the fact that the characters/identities portrayed in these games are who cosplaying individuals look toward to influence their costume choice. A lot of the time, an individual will develop a bond with their online persona and therefore, it becomes easier for them to reflect this persona in their cosplaying over a character they are not familiar with.
An extension of this RPG experience is LARP (live action role play) where a group of individuals dress up and pursue goals within a fictional setting represented by the real world while interacting with each other in character. I see this as like ‘next level’ cosplaying, as they are not only dressing up as the characters, but also choosing to engage themselves in the recreation of the characters identity through role play.
A lot of the time, YouTube is the digital media platform which both RPG and LARPers use to express their voices through recording their live action or video game experiences and uploading them for the public to see, as seen below. In addition to this podcasts are used, one group in particular who use this in addition to their YouTube channel is Rooster Teeth.
Through viewing and comparing both these forms of role play, it is immediately clear how much dedication and passion an individual puts into their characters. To me, the LARP genre actually helps to break down the stigma created by RPGer’s as the second video reveals the multitude of people who actually get involved. The Rooster Teeth video (to be honest I didn’t watch all of it) does reveal the ‘WRPG’ mentioned by the comparison video through its darker and more realistic graphics. As a non-gamer the detail and customisation actually surprised me but in saying that, the specifications confused the hell out of me! People who actually play this game and understand it, I applaud you because I had no idea! This video also shows how RPG’s allow the option for both male and female characters regardless of your real life gender (Ray has chosen a female panda even though the others chose a male) which is the same when dressing up for cosplay in the fact that you can be whoever you choose to be.
Back to the LARP video – I was amazed at the amount of planning and scripting etc that goes into them because before watching this, I honestly thought that they were improvised. The fact that people do this kind of thing on a weekly basis is actually impressive, a further reason why the dedication and passion are so necessary to these gamers life. The strategic and tactical ‘quest’ elements resonate through both the RPG and LARP worlds, and I feel as though it would be one of the main motivations to playing the games. Completing quests, moving up levels and gaining more skills would be super satisfying and ultimately enhance the bond you have with the character.