It's not just the community that draws people into the hobby, however. Newman believes that cosplay is a logical extension of what happens in videogame play. "If the mechanics of a videogame see a player virtually stepping into the shoes of a character, embodying them as they perform as them in the gameworld, then it isn't a huge leap to more literally embody these same characters and step out of the virtual world. The cosplayer breathes life into the character in a way that is often impossible in the context of the game."
Jean has cosplayed as characters from videogames such as Soul Calibur, Xenosaga, Final Fantasy, and Kingdom Hearts, and agrees that there is something more personal about cosplaying videogame characters. "I think the appeal of cosplaying from videogames is that there's so much inspiration drawn from having played as the character. So you've already kind of become them in a way even before you cosplay them!"
Some cosplayers even go as far as constructing elaborate photographic montages that replicate still images from games down to the poses, facial expressions, backdrops and scenery. "There is a desire to fuse oneself with the virtual character," says Newman. "This is mostly about getting inside the game, not about attempting to bestow the characteristics of the character upon themselves."
Others, however, are more interested in plucking the game characters from that virtual world and place them in commonplace real-world settings. Pictured on the cover of Newman's latest book are Katamari Damacy cosplayers; another photo in the same series shows the Prince kicking back in a hotel lobby. "This all makes the character rounded by fleshing out details that aren't made visible in the games and by relocating these usually extraordinary characters in mundane, ordinary locations of everyday life."
It's a common misconception that cosplaying requires the knowledge and skills to make your own costumes. Some choose to buy readymade costumes or order them from highly skilled members of the community, known as commissioners, who often work on a one-to-one basis with their customers. There is no stigma against buying costumes, and Jean says that the real charm and fun of cosplay lies in getting into the role of your chosen character. "I often find that after cosplaying a character, I grow to appreciate and like them more when I go back and re-watch the series or re-play the game. You start to feel somewhat of a bond to them!"