Monday, June 27, 2016

Twitch Creative and Their Big A Cosplay Prize

If you didn't know by now, Twitch is kind of a big deal. And since the launch of their Twitch Creative section, which focuses more on the artistic side of streaming and less on gaming, it has grown by leaps and bounds. I thought it would be more of a platform for game developers and figure/live drawing artists to showcase their work in a new format. It's opened up a new realm for cosplayers in streaming their costuming progress as they work. So much so that the top streamers on Twitch Creative are cosplayers.

To spur the fuel further, Twitch announced last week a huge cosplay contest to be held through Twitch and at TwitchCon 2016. They are offering over $63 grand in cash and prizes for the top 20 who qualify. It's kind of a neat concept and allows for more viewer participation, which is key to Twitch's success.

So how does this work? You have to be currently working on a costume, or in the process of starting one and stream a minimum of 15 hours of you building the costume via Twitch Creative. There's a hashtag you need to use so that your work will count towards the contest. You need to complete your costume before the sign-up deadline and provide a 60 second clip of your work. After that, Twitch viewers will have a few days to vote for their favorites and the top 20 will be given a travel stipend and hotel accommodations to attend TwitchCon 2016 in San Diego. They will compete head to head at that point and be judged by a team of cosplayers and gaming streamers. The top prize is $15 grand.

It sounds easy enough, but be sure to take the time to read the rules before you dive in. They are hefty. And remember that the $63 grand includes the $33k that will be dolled out for travel expenses. Roughly $1625 for each winner to accommodate 2 people (you and your handler). The contest is only handing out about $30k in case prizes while the rest will be utilized for traveling. That's still not a bad deal for a weekend in San Diego in October. The weather is worth the trip.

As a gamer and educator, I can't wait to see the results of this contest. I want to watch how people vote for their favorites and what the social implications will come from this.

As a cosplayer, I'm iffy. They have announced 3 judges already; 2 are professional cosplayers and 1 is a gaming streamer with no cosplay history. How is the streamer qualified to judge a contest focused on craftsmanship? I understand that Twitch wants to incorporate media personalities that will help boost viewers and interest in the contest, but when you have a prize pool this big, it cheapens the efforts of everyone involved if you can't have a solid judging team to support it.

I'm also concerned with public voting for 2 reasons: follower numbers, and craft vs. skin display/cool costume bro. While this could be a great opportunity for newer faces to get their work out there, if you don't have a large following, you'll be left in the dust. Someone with 500 followers and convinces all of them to vote will not see the same numbers as someone with 500,000 followers. Even if only 1% of those 500k vote, that's enough votes to crush the first stream.

Reason number 2 has to do with what I've seen with past contest experiences where public voting was the primary or only factor in a cosplay contest. And what ends up happening are the costumes that show a lot of skin, or those with really big mech suits end up winning and it's no longer based on craftsmanship. It becomes a contest of what appeals to the eye of the public. Which, we all know means, sexy costumes, skimpy skirts, abs, and Hulk Busters. It doesn't matter if the costume is held together with duct tape and safety pins. This is why you have a team of cosplay judges who know the craft, who understand construction, act as the deciding voice in who wins. For them to not have a say in the finalists concerns me. I hope that the Twitch audience will be adult enough to vote for the people who put their work into their craft, and not vote someone because of their boobs.

It's an interesting premise, overall. Curious to see the outcome.

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