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Player Character Spotlight - Armaria Cosplay, Turnfolio Cosplay, and Caketastrophe Cosplay

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Player Character Spotlight - Armaria Cosplay, Turnfolio Cosplay, and Caketastrophe Cosplay

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One of the best parts of being a gamer is that games and the stories they tell inspire incredible amounts of creativity. Making good on that exchange, are the many cosplayers around the world who bring characters to life at conventions and events throughout the year.

Today you’ll meet three such crafting crusaders! Armaria Cosplay, Turnfolio Cosplay, and Caketastrophe Cosplay chatted with us about how their cosplay identities intersect with their life as active players.

Do you consider gamer an integral part of your identity

Turnfolio: it’s generally just part of things I do as a nerd. 

Armaria: There’s so many definitions of gamer - no matter what you’re into. 

Caketastrophe: Video games, board games - whatever you’re into - it takes up at least half of my day every day. So I would consider myself…yes. (laughs)

Turnfolio Cosplay as Nott “The Brave” from Critical Role

Turnfolio Cosplay as Nott “The Brave” from Critical Role

Why are you a gamer?

Caketastrophe: It gives me a bit of happiness in my everyday life. It’s a constant source of fun and creativity. 

Armaria: The type of games I’m into include a lot of interactive story telling. For me it’s all about escaping reality and living in a fantasy, sci fi, or slightly altered world. I want an escape from every day monotony. 

Turnfolio: I always am here for a good story that allows me to experience the world in a way I don’t normally. You might be limited by your own circumstances, but games open up the world so you can experience something new. 

How does cosplay interact with your gamer identity? 

Turnfolio: This is a way for me to experience the game that someone else is playing and then put myself into it. 

Armaria: The best thing is to bring these characters to life for people who aren’t cosplayers.

Turnfolio: And! It reminds you that while we’re all watching these stories separately - we’re not alone. 

Caketastrophe: it’s really nice when you get to bring a character to life that means something to you and then you get to connect with someone who also enjoys that character and they get to see it close up. It’s priceless. 

Armaria Cosplay as Caleb from Critical Role

Armaria Cosplay as Caleb from Critical Role

How do you balance gaming with your real life. 

Caketastrophe: Eeeeeeerrrrrrrragh. It’s a lot of not prioritizing for me. I have a hard time balancing. I really need to start scheduling my time. With D&D, I have scheduled meetings. Whether or not I campaign prep more than two hours in advance - that’s another question. I run two games right now and participate in three others. I should probably prioritize real life a little bit more…

Armaria: For me, my work time is my work time. My home time is my home time. As soon as I’m out of work - that’s my time to work on cosplay or play a game, or D&D. It’s about all of my escapes and it’s more of a hard line. 

Turnfolio: It’s a matter of finding my creativity and using it as an outlet. I have a serious 9 to 5 job and I am dedicated to it. I use games to recharge and to get out stress and express emotion. It’s a release. 

What significance do conventions play win your life?

Caketastrophe: Conventions offer you a place to connect with people who share similar feelings about games. As a cosplayer, it’s a chance to show off your work - the hours you’ve spent in your craft room swaddled in fabric and trim. And tears. Sweat. Blood. Here, we get to emerge from all that!

Armaria: I’m so bad about finding new board games. But at cons there are all these people asking me to try new things and I find so many opportunities to explore. 

Do you like cooperative games or competitive games?

Turnfolio: I won’t lie. I really like winning. (laughs) I love channelling that into a cooperative game though. We grow up competing - it’s the easy thing. Everyone for themselves - it’s important to get cooperative play in there. 

Armaria: Sometimes it’s nice to compete, but cooperative story telling Is great because it’s about everyone working together to make things better. 

Caketastrophe: Welp, I like sabotage games. Werewolf. Resistance. Social sabotage is cooperative in a deceptive sort of way right?

Caketastrophe Cosplay as Mollymauk from Critical Role

Caketastrophe Cosplay as Mollymauk from Critical Role

What is the relationship between gaming and your mental health?

Caketastrophe: Gaming is a big part of my mental health. Cosplay is a huge creative outlet when I’ve had a bad day. If I don’t want to sew or play games, it’s actually a big sign that I might want to check up on my meds. It’s a good point of reference. Did I make as many costumes this year as last? How long has it been since I went out to play with friends? Gaming and cosplay and cons really help me with my social anxiety. 

Armaria: I work a very left brain job while cosplay exercises my right brain. After so much work and hours of sewing - gaming is my escape from both factors. It keeps me sane. I’m an extreme extrovert so when I’m sewing and crafting alone, I need and crave that social interaction that comes with gaming. 

Turnfolio: Board gaming is also nice for compartmentalizing. They’re so practical and tactical for when I don’t want to deal with stress and emotions. 

How do you find people to play with?

Turnfolio: I suppose it’s whoever looks approachable at cons. In real life, I ask a lot of questions. I find out what people are into and figure out where it matches up. We have to be compatible in a way.

Armaria: Honestly half the time I find people to play D&D with through cosplay. 

Caketastophe: I build solid friendships and then bring games into the friendships. I share a game and then they will share a game with me. Then the friendships build along with the games. 

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Player Character Spotlight - Rick Baer

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Player Character Spotlight - Rick Baer

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At Gen Con last year, I sat down for a chat with Misfit Toys Inc. President and Creative Director, Rick Baer. I wanted to learn about how someone who has made a career out of producing narrative webseries as well as streaming RPG entertainment for Saving Throw Show and Project Alpha prioritizes play in his own life.

“On the video game front, I’ve always been a gamer for as long as I can remember - computer games and Nintendo were staples.”

When asked about whether his gaming pastime is something he shares with his family, Rick described his gaming life as being very separate. The hobby is something he developed on his own. .

“I’m the gamer in the family. There might be occasional board games - classics like Monopoly.”

I was very interested to find out more about why RPGs have really taken over his personal and professional life.

“In terms of tabletop RPGs, gaming has become important to me because the collaborative story telling and world-building is a lot of fun. Anyone becomes a storyteller and writer when they play an RPG which is awesome.”

His passion for story telling is something he describes as intoxicating.

“I do find myself kind of craving it if I haven’t played in a while. I don’t know if you could say I do it for my mental health, but I get endorphins like crazy when I’m playing RPGs - especially if everyone is as into it as I’m trying to be. I’m totally committed and I play with a lot of committed players. “

With a busy life, it can be hard to get a group together, whether producing content or prioritizing play in his own life.

“Finding people who are just as passionate and interested and make a time for when we play is important. If you have a loose “let’s play a game together” deal, it just doesn’t work. You have to actually get out a calendar and figure out when it’s going to happen. You have a much better chance to follow through on it.””

Rick admits his situation is pretty optimal when it comes to finding players and that it may not be the case for everyone.

“I’m really lucky in that I’m part of a thriving RPG community. I know lots of different people who play in each others games. If somebody doesn’t make it into one then they’ll be in another one - theres definitely too many of us to play in one together.”

Tabletop role-playing games speak to Rick because he enjoys cooperative play and doesn’t enjoy the psychology of putting others at unease, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t enjoy collaborating with the table to create narrative tension.

“I won’t necessarily go along with everything anyone wants to do in the narrative, but I try to support what’s happening in interesting ways. I played a game of 10 Candles and I elected to be taken over by this horrible creeping darkness that was pursuing us. It created interesting tension because without having to turn against them at any particular time, there was always the chance that I could which was a lot a of fun.”

Rick Baer was also instrumental in the development of the VAST Star Trek RPG show for Project Alpha.

My favorite game that I play in is a home-brew Star Trek setting run by my friend Jackson Lanzing. It runs on a heavily modified version of White Wolf’s Storyteller. It started 6+ years ago. It was my first ever RPG. I came into the game as a star ship captain and went from that to somebody who accidentally caused the death of most of his species, to a crime lord, to the… Pope? It was crazy.

That game gave birth to VAST, the game I work on for Project Alpha. The system is essentially the same. I got to see a different aspect of creating games from that production side. I had been a player, but here I was a writer most of the time - creating modules for the campaign.

Rick has also come to enjoy the empathic side of story telling - giving him a chance to get behind the wheel of characters with totally different values.

“Playing my second character who is the polar opposite - a horrible awful racist, sexist, psychopathic smuggler and switching between those two extremes with my original Star Trek character gave me this whole range of things to explore and got me comfortable with playing lots of different kinds of characters - not just another version of myself. That’s what I really enjoy now.”

Follow Rick on Twitter as well as Misfit Toys, Inc. to get in on the action and support all the incredible stories he’s telling.

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