Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cosplay for Killers

I'm a "fan" of the Assassin's Creed series on Facebook, which means their messages occasionally wander across my wall. Today, I saw one that I found interesting -- a plug for "the 1st Assassin's Creed Online Cosplay Contest."

Why do I find this odd? Well, to my lights at least, cosplay has always had the public image of being very geeky fanboy/girlish (I'm not saying I agree with this assessment, only that's how I've understood its public meaning). It's girls in anime costumes and guys with an obsession for Japanese RPGs. Assassin's Creed, by contrast, is much more of a macho man game; its advertising uses professional athletes*, incredible acrobatic feats, and, of course, the prospect of brutally dismembering half of Renaissance Italy.

Given that, I find it interesting that the game's official feed is promoting a cosplay event -- one would think they'd be more attentive to preserving the fragile egos of teen gamers for whom being associated with, ew, nerds is the last thing they want. But maybe I'm too cynical about Ubisoft. Or maybe I'm entirely misreading the cultural salience of cosplay. Thoughts?

* Funny story -- I was with my cousin when an ad for AC:Revelations came on. It showed a bunch of pro athletes in hoodies that mimicked the assassin garb, followed by "stats". The last state was for "Ezio Auditore", who, of course, is the protagonist of the series -- but my cousin just assumed he was another NBA player and was curious why he had never heard of this "Eezee-oh" guy.


Matthew C said...

I think you're just misreading the audience of Assassin's Creed. The fact that the commercials use athletes doesn't mean the game *is* played by "macho men" it means the publishers *want* the game to be played by that demographic. I think Assassin's Creed does well with the "core gamer" audience - AKA nerds- and probably above-average-but-far-from-phenomenally-well with the bros who just own a bunch of Madden and Call of Duty Games. But its a historical setting, has plot, characters, and dialogue, and someone took a lot of time reconstructing those outfits. As far as some gamers are concerned, it might as well be "Wuthering Heights."

David Schraub said...

Well okay, but if Ubisoft wants the game to be associated with the macho demographic, it is interesting that it is electing to undermine that appeal (maybe?) with its cosplay ad.