Armchair BEA Day 3: Beyond the Books

Book bloggers unable to attend the BEA Bloggers Conference or Book Expo America (BEA) in Chicago, but would like to ‘meet’ other book bloggers and publishers to discuss books and book blogging can participate in this virtual event.

Beyond the Books

Beyond the traditional form of the novel, what are your favorite alternative forms (graphic novels, audiobooks, webcomics, etc)? Do you have any favorite works within these alternate forms? How do you think the changing format affects the reading experience?

Previously on Armchair BEA, I have talked about the some ways of heightening and expanding one's reading experience. We all know it does not stop with the last page. 

Consider our childhood game of playing pretend when we took on the personas of the characters that we read in a book or watch of the television. We either interacted with our childhood friends who also took the roles of ahem secondary characters or played with our imaginary friends, sometimes substituting with stuffed toys or dolls. We were quite the imaginative little tykes; we were princesses, knights, wizards, superheroes, etcetera, etcetera. We made those characters our own 

But while we outgrew that game of playing pretend, some of us take that imagination to the next level. I am only talking about the theater and the pixelated screens. Think the ultimate ways of fangirling/fanboying: 

Cosplay and live action role-play. 

Cosplay or costume play, is a performance art in which participants, called cosplayers, wear costumes to represent a specific character. 

There is no specific beginning of cosplaying (does dressing up for Halloween count?) but the phenomenon saw rapid growth during the 1990s and has credited Japan to be a significant point of place. Cosplayers has since been common features in fan conventions. 

According to some, the cosplay costumes are generally different from that of simple-themed clothing events and costume holidays such as Halloween and Mardi Gras. Rather than just simply donning a set of clothes, cosplayers adopt the mannerisms, attitudes, and body languages of the characters they seek to portray. 

It is a rather expensive hobby. One may simply but pre-packaged costumes but dedicated fans take it to a whole new level: making their own costumes with materials that best mimic their characters. Have you seen the awesome, life-like outfits of the hardcore cosplayers? Some even take to various body modification such as wigs, contact lenses and tattoos. They may also opt to paint their bodies especially if the characters have a different skin color, i.e. Mystique. 

Autheticity is the measure by a cosplayer’s ability to translate fantasy to reality. 

While cosplay, coined by Nobuyuki Takahashi, is a portmanteau of costume and role-play, it is slightly different from that of live action role-play or LARP. Both are forms of roleplay but cosplay is somewhat like a fashion show. 

LARP, on the other hand, is where the participants physically act out their characters’ actions. It is the grown-up version of playing pretend. The players act out within a fictional setting manufactured in the real world while interacting with each other in character. 

Hey, it’s a bit like in the theater and the movies! 

Kind of and the play may be very game-like or may be more concerned with dramatic or artistic expression. But while the theater and the movies follow a script, LARP is more on improvising and there is usually no audience. LARP events are put on for the benefit of the players such that much of it is between and among the characters only. LARP plays are not confined within the parameters of the given material they are larping. Sometimes, the arrangers or the gamemasters may add non-canon characters as they see fit for the setting. 

LARP events stress artistic and entertainment, but they can also be designed – the original material adapted – for educational or political purposes. We did this in one of my language classes where I butchered my lines and my co-actor deviated from his.

Have you ever cosplayed or LARPed? Who did you embody?
If you haven't, which character would you love to go as?

Ayanami Faerudo

"Nobuyuki (Nov) Takahashi " YeinJee's Asian Blog: The Origin of the word cosplay".

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