Cosplay model tapping into world’s biggest gaming market
Updated 13:45, 05-Nov-2018
By Laura Schmitt, Cao Xi
China loves gaming; so much that the Chinese gaming market is now the biggest in the world in terms of revenue, raking in over 30 billion US dollars in 2017.
Yet, as recently as 2003, gaming was branded as a digital narcotic by the government, closely associated with addiction. The change in the country's relationship with computer and mobile phone games has been remarkable. Gaming is now socially accepted.
One group of people profiting from gaming's success are the country's cosplay models. Contrary to popular perception of it as a subculture where people dress up as game or movie characters for their own enjoyment, cosplay is now generating genuine employment opportunities. Cosplay models transform themselves into game characters to host the growing number of gaming conventions and competitions.
Xiaoxin is a cosplay model based in Shanghai, who has been working in the industry for a decade and witnessed China's growth into the world's biggest gaming market.
“Ten years ago or more the competitive gaming industry in China actually wasn't that great,” she said, reflecting on the early days of her career. “And people didn't approve of it so much. Some parents wouldn't let their kids become pro players. But now that competitive gaming has been included in the Asian Games they can no longer say it's just messing around.”
That Xiaoxin doesn't mess around becomes apparent during a photo shoot. She expressed her displeasure at the idea of appearing with characters from different games who do not interact, and therefore should not be seen, with hers. And it's impressive to see the grace with which she carries herself, considering the great weight of the costume she's wearing, and the oppressive heat inside it.
Xiaoxin also works as an online streamer and a commentator during gaming competitions. /CGTN Photo

Xiaoxin also works as an online streamer and a commentator during gaming competitions. /CGTN Photo

While she enjoys the work as a cosplay model, she admits that it offers no long-term future. Few professional “cosers,” as she calls them, continue beyond their 30s. With this in mind, Xiaoxin has developed other strings to her bow. She currently bolsters her income by live-streaming herself playing the battle game PUBG, as well as by acting as a commentator during e-sport competitions. This type of work, she says, will sustain her down the line, when her cosplay career is finally over.
(Top image: A coser /VCG Photo)