They’re often dismissed as geeks or nerds but it seems people who like to dress up as superheroes or their favourite TV or movie characters are onto something.
New research at the University of Adelaide has found cosplay, short for costumed play, is actually helping people develop social and creative skills, find friends and become socially acceptable.
“Cosplay and other costuming movements are a kind of performance art,” anthropology PhD student Claire Langsford said.
“It’s existed in one form or another for decades and it crosses age barriers and cultures.
“A key finding of my research is the level of creativity that goes into cosplay, because most people make their own costumes and there’s a kind of prestige in doing that.”
This process means those involved are often rediscovering traditional art and craft skills, such as sewing and knitting, which otherwise would have been lost to their generation.
Ms Langsford said cosplay was very much a shared activity with devotees interacting with others through social and digital media or through conventions and competitions.
It’s also a growing phenomenon with the cosplay community in South Australia alone estimated in the thousands.
The financial cost can be one downside, but Ms Langsford said most managed to properly balance their cosplay obsession with their real life.
Game of Thrones fan Tristan Willes, who cuts a dashing John Snow from the popular series, said cosplay allowed him a valuable form of self expression and the buzz of interacting with people with a similar passion.
He said it was also immensely satisfying when other people simply recognised his character from the series.
“I can have hundreds of people yelling at me,” he said.