Character kits – I’m ambivalent

So yesterday, Bioware announced that ahead of the expected release of Inquisition in spring, they are going to be releasing a series of Character kits. These kits provide views of the game’s main characters in costume, from a variety of angles, with insets for close detail.

And the cosplay and fanart worlds rejoiced!

Pic by Bioware

I don’t know why I’m not all that enthusiastic about the idea.

Well, actually that’s not true. I have a couple of inklings…

1. It feels like cheating. Part of the challenge for me is getting screenshots during the game that show exactly the bit I need to see. Having it laid out for me takes that challenge away, and it also limits what I see to what the maker wants me to see.

2. When I do a cosplay, it’s an intimate exploration of a character. I think I’ve mentioned before that I developed a bit of a crush on Cullen when I was working out how to make his armour. I had to think about how he would dress and undress, what sort of things he’d do in his daily life, how he’d move, where it’d rub… *fans self*

*ahem* So anyway, there’s a lot of “Who is this person and how do they wear their clothes?” going on when I make a costume. With the stave Freedom’s Call, I thought a lot about where it might have come from, what Anders would do with it when fighting, how it got its marks..

You can’t do this with a character you don’t know, haven’t seen how they interact with the world. I mean, the one they’ve released so far is Morrigan, and we all know her, yes. But at least seven years have passed since we last saw her, and a whole lot has happened. She’s dressed in.. an Orlesian ball gown?! Something’s definitely changed. And while I’m sure lots of people will be able to produce carbon-copy outfits and stand around looking haughty and smug, even the haughty and smug part comes from prior character knowledge and the bit we see in the first promo video.

So for me, the idea of playing a character from a picture without having played them in-game doesn’t appeal. It won’t be full enough.

3. I can’t help but be cynical about the whole idea of pre-release cosplay facilitation. I mean, good on them for cottoning that fanart of all kinds increases interest in the games. They’ve always supported it and promoted it as a valid and valuable part of gaming culture. I think this is neat – there are plenty of organisations that dismiss cosplay as not relevant, so yay Bioware for recognising. But this feels a bit like using that artistic enthusiasm to get people out and about promoting Inquisition, as part of the pre-release hype. To boil it down to its ugly essence, using fans to get free advertising.

Now, I know that lots of people will enthusiastically embrace the idea, and good for them if they do. After all, if everyone thought like me, life would be pretty boring. But I don’t think I’ll be among those people. I might get over myself, but to use a character kit for cosplay feels to me, right now, like a shallow cheat that allows me to be manipulated by a corporation into hyping their game for them.

/curmudgeon

Having said that, I am very excited for the game. It’s the first game ever that I’ll be pre-ordering the collector’s edition for, and I plan to take some time off work for my first playthrough. Hi, my name’s Tats and I’m an obsessed fan…

..but I think I’m going to start avoiding the hype a little. In the past I’ve always played games about a year after their release. It’s nice to do that after the bugs are fixed etc, and also to walk in with no real idea what to expect. I think if I keep following Inquisition obsessively, I’ll hype myself up for disappointment, and also ruin it a bit for myself by knowing too much about it before I start. I’m not going to obsessively avoid it, but I might stop chasing it now.

Except for the Keep. Did I mention I’d been picked to do early beta testing? EEEEEE!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s