Cosplay at i55 (Insomnia Gaming Festivals Aug 28-31st 2015) 2
Back on stage with all the other cosplayers after the cosplay masquerade.

Insomnia is the UK’s biggest gaming festival and this year was my second year attending. It was also my first time trying out cosplaying! This article is about the cosplay scene at the insomnia gaming festival and my views from my first cosplay experience.  Welcome to my take on the Cosplay at i55!

Last year at i52, my first insomnia experience, I was amazed at the awesome cosplays people had made and shown off during the masquerade. This is what inspired me to start cosplaying and made me think I want to do that! I started thinking about what cosplay I would like to make and wear to the next insomnia event I would attend. After seeing an adorable poro cosplay by Jessica Nigri and Lindsay Elyse I decided to take inspiration from them and make my own. A poro is an npc from the ARAM map in League of legends, they basically run around and look adorable!

Jessica Nigri and Lindsay Elyse wearing their Poro Cosplays.
Jessica Nigri and Lindsay Elyse wearing their Poro Cosplays.

I carefully planned my design based on Jessica’s and Lindsay’s Poro cosplay and ordered copious amounts of fake fur to cut, hot glue and sew into place. Needless to say cosplaying is a messy process! Even though it was my first attempt at making anything to wear I had a lot of fun and it went surprisingly well.

On the run up to the event I spent some time picking a music track and posing badly in front of the mirror in preparation for my on stage performance. Even though there was an option to register online in advance I decided to register on the Friday of insomnia before the cosplay masquerade. I chose to do this as I wanted to ask some questions at the cosplay zone before entering as Insomnia had two cosplay masquerades to sign up for. There was the insomnia cosplay masquerade on the Saturday and the cosplay community masquerade on the Sunday and I wasn’t sure which one I should enter. The Sunday masquerade was more for fun and first time cosplayers like me, whereas the Saturday event was the main event with lots of prizes!

From bundle of fabric to outfit. My finished Poro cosplay, complete with practise pose in front of the mirror!
From bundle of fabric to outfit. My finished Poro cosplay, complete with practise pose in front of the mirror!

When I walked over to the cosplay zone on the Friday I was pretty nervous as I wasn’t sure what to expect. The people on the stand, who I assume where from costume and play who were running the event, were so lovely and helpful and instantly calmed my nerves. They advised that the masquerade on the Saturday was the main event and I should enter the insomnia cosplay masquerade to get the full experience and then maybe come back for the community masquerade on the Sunday. I didn’t feel like wearing my cosplay for two days in a row so opted to just enter the main Saturday masquerade.

I filled out the registration form with a little help and handed over my music track, Crystallize by Lindsey Stirling. They gave me an assigned letter and told me clearly when and where to meet for the masquerade and I felt like the event was really well organised.

The cosplay zone was a bit smaller than I thought after reading the information on the insomnia website but it still had some interesting aspects. There was a table displaying props, armour and weapons with their creator who was eager to explain the techniques involved and the materials used. There was a photography, modelling and print table that had many cosplay photos on show along with the photographer who had taken the shots. She was on hand to help with cosplay poses and how to take great photographs. This came in handy for the selfie booth just around the corner! There was also a table with two lovely ladies dressed in full cosplay to give advice about performance and cosplay in general. Overall it was a neat cosplay zone but I wish it had contained every aspect that was mentioned on the website.

During the weekend of insomnia the cosplay zone ran several events. Unfortunately I was having way too much fun exploring the rest of the event, watching e sports and gaming to remember about the events they had scheduled! They did sound rather good and I was a bit disappointed when I’d realised I had missed the “Oh my gosh It’s My First Cosplay Workshop” and the “Props Creation Workshop”. They would have been extremely helpful for such a cosplay noob like me, but hopefully they will be running similar events next year which I will ensure not to miss!

On the Saturday the nerves really kicked in as I got dressed into my poro cosplay. Wearing something that completely stands out in a crowd is not what I’m used to but once I entered the expo hall and got used to my new poro persona I had a great time wondering around. Several people asked for pictures which was extremely flattering and definitely boosted my confidence for the cosplay masquerade. The cosplay masquerade is a cosplay competition where you go up on stage in front of judges and either act or pose to music while in character, which you can imagine is pretty nerve racking for a newbie.

A quick snap taken at the MSI stand while I was wearing my Poro cosplay.
A quick snap taken at the MSI stand while I was wearing my Poro cosplay.

I met with the other cosplayers at the expo stage ready for the cosplay masquerade 30 minutes before it was due to start. All the cosplayers had already been assigned letters so this ensured we were sorted into order quickly and efficiently.

This was my first time being behind stage and mingling with the cosplay community. I was once again very nervous but everyone was so friendly and easy to chat to. I also got a chance to ask people about their cosplays and admire their handiwork up close.  While we were stood in line a couple of the judges wondered up and down and asked us about our cosplays. I thought they would spend a little longer on each person but I assume the sheer number of entries meant they had to get through us rather quickly! There was a camera man walking up and down videoing the cosplayers waiting in line and he even interviewed me about my cosplay! I wasn’t sure what to say and I’m sure it must be the worst interview ever, so hopefully I never see it uploaded. Two of the organisers were also on hand to explain where to enter and exit the stage and where to pose for pictures, this was extremely helpful and made sure everyone knew exactly what they were doing. The whole masquerade worked like clockwork with each cosplayer entering the stage after their name and character was called to the awaiting crowd.

I was very anxious as I walked up and executed my practised poses in front of the huge crowd. But it went well and my time on stage was over extremely fast. I came off nearly crying with nervous excitement but once it was over I realised I was buzzing and couldn’t wait to do it again! A photographer took the pictures of every cosplayer as they came off stage and hopefully I will be able to find them once they are uploaded.

Luckily I was about the 5th or 6th cosplayer on stage so I could watch the rest of the masquerade from the side. Some of the cosplayers seemed so confident on stage and I admired the way they made the characters come to life. Everyone was told to stay next to the stage until after the winners had been announced and we were all invited back onto the stage for final photographs.

Back on stage with all the other cosplayers after the cosplay masquerade.
Back on stage with all the other cosplayers after the cosplay masquerade.

Third place went to an awesome pair dressed in guild wars 2 cosplay, their armour and weapons must have taken hours to craft. Second place went to the scarecrow cosplay from Batman. She was in front of me while we waited to go on stage and the amount of detail in her cosplay was amazing. First place went to Arcade miss fortune from league of legends, not only is it one of my favourite league skins but it was perfectly executed and she definitely deserved first place! Special mentions also went to a pair dressed as Clara and the doctor and another awesome guild wars 2 cosplay.

From left to right: 1st place Arcade Miss Fortune, 2nd place Scarecrow from batman, 3rd place Guild wars 2 cosplay.
From left to right: 1st place Arcade Miss Fortune, 2nd place Scarecrow from Batman, 3rd place Guild wars 2 cosplay.

I didn’t expect to win any of the prizes as my cosplay was nowhere near as complex and as well-crafted as the many other experienced cosplayers. However one of the judges came over to me afterwards and complimented me on my stage presence and my cosplay and I felt like all the effort I had put in was definitely worth it. My first cosplay experience has boosted my confidence and determination and I will definitely be back next year!

Overall I really enjoyed my first ever cosplay and thought the cosplay scene at insomnia was great. Obviously I have nothing to compare it to but after having such a great first experience I plan on attempting to make many more cosplays and hopefully attending many other events. I would say if you’re nervous or unsure about cosplaying insomnia is a great place to start. Although it’s a big event the cosplay masquerade so well organised and everyone is so helpful it definitely makes you feel confident about what you’re doing. There’s also of course loads of other cosplayers and the lovely people from costume and play who are so willing to answer questions and give you advice. Hopefully the cosplay scene at insomnia will get even bigger and better in the years to come as it definitely has plenty of potential and room to grow.

Below is a video that has been uploaded to YouTube of Insomnias Saturday cosplay masquerade, see if you can spot the very nervous Poro!

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