Dote Night: Pip’s Cosplay Challenge

Cosplays from League of Legends and Smite - left to right you've got Lulu, Nidalee and Scylla


Hello Dote Nighters. This post marks the beginning of Pip’s Cosplay Challenge. By that I mean I am going to do my best to create a cosplay – one which I could feasibly wear to an event and people would a) be able to recognise who I was supposed to be and b) not join this tragic lineup.

The whole thing was inspired by the various amazing cosplays I’ve seen around the world at eSports events and the skill and dedication which people put into creating those costumes. I’m not even going to try to pretend I’ll match up to their work but I wanted to give it a go – find out what’s involved, talk to people about how the various aspects work and get an idea for how difficult it is.

Currently I’m armed with a sewing machine I can’t remember how to use, an internet’s worth of character models and screenshots, and a box of craft supplies which mainly consists of ALL COLOURS OF GLITTER and some origami paper. It’ll be fine.

Guan Yu

First, though, I have to work out who or what I will be cosplaying. I’ve decided it should be a Dota 2 hero because that’s the MOBA lineup I’m most familiar with – but which one?

My initial impulse was to check out the ladies*.

Legion Commander?
Too much complicated shoulder flaggery for a first effort. Also would get stuck in elevators and going through doors.

She’s a bit less daunting from the item creation side of things but far more so in terms of ‘HI THESE ARE MY BOOBS AND THIGHS!’ I’m not ashamed of my body but nor am I looking to deal with the kind of critique that sometimes results from revealing cosplay. It’s a similar story for Mirana, Venge, Lina, Queen of Pain (obv) and to a lesser extent Crystal Maiden. Windranger is also out because having a full time job precludes the number of situps required.

Depends on how competent I feel I would be in building my own panther.

Naga Siren?
Boobtacular plus having to work out how to do “no legs and a tail instead” successfully. Medusa gets ruled out for the latter too.

Phantom Assassin
She actually seems like a possibility so I bookmark her for further consideration.

Would require half a fawn.

Spectre has a *lot* going on in terms of flowing drapers and sticking out bits. She also seems quite lanky and wispy on account of the whole “tortured revenant” thing. Probably needs wind machine.

Winter Wyvern or Broodmother?
Would require becoming either a wyvern or a spider.

Looking at where that leaves me, I have Phantom Assassin or nothing. I’m not particularly fond of PA so I decided to open up the selection process and consider the gentlemen and tree beasts and fish monsters of Dota 2 as well.

Wisp doesn’t have any limbs, Venomancer would ruin my spine and mean learning how to sew a sleeping bag into a monster, Meepo would require a cloning facility, Tiny has several different forms and Silencer is an insufferable prick…

Comfort picking in a whole new dimension

So you know what I did in this situation? I did exactly what I did in an actual game yesterday evening: I comfort-picked Sniper. I think he’s actually going to be a good gateway option here. There’s a cape and some footwear to get to grips with but the trousers and top will hopefully be relatively straightforward mods of pre-existing clothes, plus there’s crafting elements in the form of a big gun, some headgear and a few accessories. Lastly, I get to wear a beard which I think means I will fit in better at Games Journalist events.

I’m not sure how regularly updates on this project will come – I’m going to aim for something once a month with the goal of finishing before The International. I want to include expertise and insight from people who make cosplay props and costumes, though, either for a living or as enthusiastic amateurs. If that’s you and you fancy saying hi then drop me an email – my address is pip [at] rockpapershotgun dot com.

This is going to be fun.**

*No, not like that.

**Remind me of that as I swear my way through this entire process.


  1. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    “Lastly, I get to wear a beard which I think means I will fit in better at Games Journalist events.”

    If your beard is better than Graham’s, do you become editor of RPS? Is that how it works?

  2. lasikbear says:

    Do reconsider Luna, if only for the opportunity to use her accent.

    • BooleanBob says:

      That isn’t an accent, it’s weaponised sound.

      LITTLE KNOWN FACT: Luna is actually descended from this man.

  3. X_kot says:


    (you’re right, he is a jerk)

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    Aerothorn says:

    Really interested to see how this turns out! I know cosplay is an enormous amount of work.

  5. felisc says:

    Oh nice, looking forward to the results. Good luck. I know nothing of Dota but I have experience with beards, so there. I do admit I usually like more feminine/sexy cosplay on ladies (what? I’m allowed to eh) but this is a cool idea nonetheless.

  6. Dog Pants says:

    I have a sleeping bag that would make a great* Viper costume.


  7. Fiyenyaa says:

    Sniper is the best character in the game, so it follows that he’ll be the best cosplay. Good luck!

  8. Gap Gen says:

    I don’t blame you for not joining the people in the first link, they look a right state.

  9. Horg says:

    You could do Techies with nothing more than a stolen shopping trolley, a barrel (rear goblin), a Muppet holding a firework (front goblin), and a saucepan (for your amazing hat as middle goblin). To make the mines, take some spare cushions, cover them in felt spikes, cut many small holes and fill the whole thing with glitter. Layer liberally around the event where people are likely to sit. Enjoy your road to low priority (that’s being thrown out on the street) for picking Techies!

  10. AngoraFish says:

    Lina looks pretty straight forward to me. No elaborate props – basically just a short red dress with yellow pattern sown on, with a couple of other bits of material and choker. Temporary hair dye to match. Cut-outs don’t seem necessary, and a low cut/pneumatic chest is entirely a style call. There are several very good looking Lina cosplay outfits on the web with more or less no cleavage at all.

    I wouldn’t write off Naga Siren either, basically all the work there is in the headdress. Other than that you’re wearing a light blue skivvy and a modified sarong. The advantage of going with a character with a single elaborate prop is that you get instant recognition from the prop, the rest can just be impressionistic. As a bonus, you get a hat that’s easy to take off if you need a bathroom break.

    In fact, any of the boob-girls could comfortably be done with a skin-coloured skivvy. The added bonus there is that there’s even less sewing involved.

  11. piedpiper says:

    How about these girls:
    Death Prophet – the only problem is that hair. And green skin.
    Lanaya – you don’t have to be in perfect shape to cosplay her cause some of her costumes are kinda baggy.
    Invoker – her outfit is not revealing at all.

  12. Mr Coot says:

    Good luck! I am in awe of the creativity and skill that goes into cos play. The pics at right and below are amazingly detailed!

  13. satan says:

    Don’t have to limit yourself to female characters, some of the best cosplay is crossplay.

  14. Stevostin says:

    Ain’t this what they call Gonzo Journalism ?

    • El_Emmental says:

      Oh please…

      • El_Emmental says:

        Hm, my initial post might sound a bit cold but sadly it’s not without reasons (detailed a little further). I would recommend reading the short Wikipedia article on gonzo journalism.

        I’m only writing this because the misconception is so widespread and exploited by so many dishonest people, it begins to really matter. My comment is not about anyone in particular (especially not Stevostin who’s only asking a question!). The thing is that I can’t remain passive when the concept of gonzo journalism is soiled and dragged through the mud when it’s used as an excuse for terrible reporting.

        First, gonzo journalism is not putting on a hat and sneaking in the crowd for a few hours pretending to be part of them. It’s a good thing for someone to try that once in a while, but it’s not gonzo journalism at all.

        Also, way too many bloggers/freelance writers (the majority of the news/infotainment industry now :/) purposely misinterpret the concept, to only borrow the subjective element of gonzo journalism, in order to justify their lack of objective fact-checking and cross-sourcing (something that requires time, effort, stress, and doesn’t pay at all). That isn’t gonzo journalism at all either.

        The very core of gonzo journalism (or New Journalism to some extent) is NOT rejecting objectivity to just go with the flow of personal subjectivity, telling whatever first emotions come through your mind.

        Instead, it’s admitting objectivity is not satisfyingly attainable to properly cover something and communicate what’s at stake with the readers, and deciding to embrace a form of self-critical subjectivity, where you constantly alternate between sharing your considered thoughts, and criticizing, contextualizing and mocking (through satire) these very thoughts with your objective mind. It’s only because you will always uncompromisingly criticize yourself that you can allow your subjectivity to speak. It’s this sinusoidal oscillation between the two that brings something new and valuable to writing.

        In the case of this good news (cosplay crafting! :D), a gonzo approach means ‘Pip’ would join the cosplay community (as a lurker just downloading guides, or an active participant sharing her creations/ideas) as an ordinary crafter and tell the readers about her experience, while regularly taking a step back to analyze the whole process – on a cultural level, regarding how we relate to DIY/crafting, to self-image, how we form niche communities, etc. All the while being fully aware and making fun of her own bias : her own culture, personality (ex: self-consciousness, optimism, etc) or preconceived ideas on cosplay and niche cultures. That’s waaaay too much work if Pip also has to cover all kind of other news and events for RPS at the same time.

        Thus why, in my opinion, this project isn’t “gonzo” or anything like that – and it doesn’t need or has to be. Way too often people assume that a “gonzo” approach will result in great writing or an insightful experience: that’s a complete fallacy, a myth that keeps being repeated by “aspiring” writers who dream of being the ‘next something‘. In reality, covering something with so much immersion and subjectivity is incredibly demanding and extremely difficult: nearly all attempts end up being terribly awful, with as much depth as the average ennui-filled blog rant.

        That’s why I much prefer the honest, down-to-earth approach ‘Pip’ seems to be following: try new stuff, search for solutions, report on the challenges, tell the stories and funny anecdotes, enjoy the result like it is. No pretentious poppyquack, no rants about the inevitability of life. Just a humble contribution, only time will tell the rest.

        ps: I hope the final costume will have the pointy hat like in the pictures! <[:)

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          Seems to me that a gonzo approach would be to make the costume, put it on, take a billion drugs, drive six hundred miles to a lonely hill somewhere, picking up a confused waitress on the way, terrify said waitress by machinegunning a tree stump atop said hill, drink an entire bottle of Wild Turkey, customise the costume with elk antlers and meat, become genuinely deranged, recover, find in your motel bathtub a manuscript that you presumably wrote at some point detailing everything you did, type it up, take more drugs, post it, become a figure of fear, awe and ridicule, go mad, and die.

          Or is my idea of “gonzo” a bit narrow?

        • DXN says:

          I’m not sure this comment was completely necessary, but it was insightful so I appreciate it. :P

        • Universal Quitter says:

          Aside from the fact that it was a joke, and that we all have looked up Hunter S Thompson before, you’re missing the bigger picture. Look at “irony.” Has comedic irony stopped existing because people use “irony” to describe poetic coincidences? Have any negative consequences arisen from it, at all? Does it harm you that most people use it the wrong way?

          So clearly, it’s nothing to be upset about, nor is it worth correcting people over it. Everyone else might be too polite to say it, but stop being an ass and calling it helpful.

          • El_Emmental says:

            “Aside from the fact that it was a joke, …”
            Poe’s law (well, its derivative). RPS of today has a large enough audience that it’s more likely someone is not joking than someone is joking (unless it’s on a pun thread).

            “… and that we all have looked up Hunter S Thompson before”
            Ha! You have looked up HST before, I may have looked HST before. Billions of people haven’t – and there’s no reason they should (they won’t anyway).

            “…you’re missing the bigger picture. Look at “irony.” Has comedic irony stopped existing because people use “irony” to describe poetic coincidences? Have any negative consequences arisen from it, at all? Does it harm you that most people use it the wrong way?”
            Actually, yes. Irony lost its original meaning(s) and now it’s much harder to partake in irony without a) being misunderstood b) labeled as a heartless monster and be targeted by social media mobbing.

            TV shows and stand-up comedians now entirely avoid certain subjects and audiences because even by making it clear it’s irony it’s just not feasible: people expect irony to be minor “funny” coincidences that requires no prior knowledge or any layer of abstraction.

            “… So clearly, it’s nothing to be upset about, nor is it worth correcting people over it.”
            Well, I’m glad there’s people who disagree with my opinion – I still believe there’s non-vital yet important concepts worth defending in this world, like when it comes to journalism and reporting on a website dedicate to subjective news reporting.

            I still believe that if we allow people to throw the “gonzo” name around to justify terrible journalism, it’s not just insulting to an entire concept – gonzo could disappear society wouldn’t shed a tear (I know I would just shrug) – it’s telling people it’s OK to refuse to base your opinions on objective elements and criticism, that instead the recommended procedure is now to solely rely on your (and the people you feel emotionally connected to) highly biased first impressions and emotions. Using the “gonzo” word to legitimize such narrow-mindness and rejection of critical thinking is highly dishonest and actually dangerous for society.

            Oh it’s a minor problem (from the look of it) when it’s affecting cultural elements: who really cares if weird groups like punks, goths or rappers got painted as drug-fueled violent freaks, after a reporter spent 2 hours walking through a festival or concert, only interviewing the few blacking out drunks and generalizing about the rest? Don’t worry, it’s totally gonzo!

            Same with reporters taking a few scenes at LAN parties and “interviewing” at home the only completely asocial folks in their home: totally gonzo – the reporter disguised as the stereotypical nerd to “blend” in. Same thing happened with the cosplay communities: close-ups of the scantily clad ladies and awkward obese cosplayers, paint them as complete freaks, harvest hits – but it’s totally legit: the reporter was there with a Super Mario plushie cap bought 2 minutes before recording. All in good fun, right?

            Then you have folks like Fox News or the DM who send an “undercover” reporter to prove that obviously yes, black people commit crimes, hispanic/pakistani people smuggle drug: the reporter spent a 2 nights in a SUV taking sneaky picture of alleged drug dealers and the people wandering in low-income neighborhoods at 3 am, then buying a few quids of weed from an unidentified guy in a hoodie while a blurry hidden cam records “the truth”. Terrible, biased and subjective coverage of low-income area criminality… or is it? They’re just “telling it like it is”, to quote someone everyone seem to have looked up already.

            Let’s not even talk about embedded “journalists” during wars… Can’t get anymore gonzo, right? Totes reliable as a information source :|

            “Everyone else might be too polite to say it, but stop being an ass and calling it helpful.”

            It’s probable I’m being an ass and I’ll apologize for it once again – and I might not be “helpful” for someone who already heard of HST – but I still think it’s intellectually dishonest to tolerate biased sensationalism done in the name of gonzo journalism. Seeing how there’s less and less people giving a damn about it, then acting all surprised when the consequences of such misuse appears (omg, who would have thought coverage could be terrible, biased and misleading!), I might as well be that guy and bother people about it even if it’s not the “Topic of the Day” because of a trending scandal. At least on websites officially and publicly embracing a subjective approach to news coverage, like Rock Paper Shotgun.

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            kfix says:

            Actually Universal Quitter, if anyone is being an ass it is you, and I’m not too polite to call you on it. El_Emmental took the time and words to point out that the comment was not a personal attack, and the comment was both interesting and (to me) informative. Unlike yours.

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    Oakreef says:

    Dota should add a frog games journalist character.

  16. Jackablade says:

    You know if you go as Enchantress, you’ll be able to rope one of your colleagues into playing the pantomime deer rear-end.

  17. DXN says:

    What a rad idea!

  18. Llewyn says:

    Depends on how competent I feel I would be in building my own panther.

    Or taming one. This has the added advantage of being well placed to deal with unwelcome critique.

  19. Llewyn says:

    *notices alt-texts*


    Ta, an’ guan yuself.

  20. eggy toast says:

    I don’t like Dota type games, but a first attempt at cosplay is very interesting. Could someone share a link where non-moba-adicts can look up what the various character models look like? Blind stabs at googling are only getting me head shots and a bunch of stats I don’t understand or care about.

    • eggy toast says:

      How did I wind up on a two week old article thinking it was new? Odd