Types of Cosplay Conventions
There are many different types of cosplay conventions, also known as “cons,” that cater to different interests and communities. Many are generic entertainment conventions that cover a wide variety of topics, others are more focused on one particular genre or style.
Just because a convention is focused on one particular style, that does not (usually) mean you must be in that genre. If there are certain conventions that frown at cross overs we’ve tried to let you know in their description. The best way to tell is to look at their website and find either their FAQ or rules, it should all be laid out there.
The Most Common Cosplay Convention Types
This list is laid out in alphabetical format because no particular convention style is better than another.
Anime Conventions – These conventions focus on Japanese style animation and manga. These events are where you will see the mostly anime based cosplayers.
Comic Book Conventions – These conventions focus on comic books and graphic novels, and often feature cosplayers dressed as characters from superhero and other comic book franchises.
Costume Conventions – These conventions are focused on the costuming itself and usually include a high end contest where participants are judged on the quality and workmanship of the cosplay or costume. Events are focused on various aspects of costuming from fur suit creation to bodices and armor.
Doll Conventions – These are not standard cosplay conventions. The primary focus is on dolls, including Barbie, GI Joe, and their accessories. This is usually a unique group of cosplayers who focus on becoming the living personification of a particular doll.
Fantasy Conventions – These conventions focus on fantasy based literature, television shows, and movies. With cosplayers dressing as characters from these genres. These events are frequently combined with Science fiction Conventions and become known as Sci-Fi / Fantasy Conventions.
Furry Conventions – These are a gathering of furry fans, which are people who are interested in animal characters with human characteristics. Here you will find life size animalistic type costuming resembling mascots, and variations for them. They can be everything from the commonly recognized Bugs Bunny to original characters. Some have full ‘fur suits’ others have only ears and tails.
Gaming Conventions – These conventions can come in three different styles. They can focus on video games, tabletop games, or a combination of both. There is usually one or two big tournaments involving their main games. Cosplayers are usually dressed as characters from various video or tabletop game franchises.
Historical Reenactment – These are not truly ‘cosplay conventions’ in the normal sense. These are people dressing up in historically accurate costuming These conventions focus on historical reenactment and living history, and often feature cosplayers dressed in historical costumes from a particular time period or culture. It is not advised that you show up here in any cosplay that is not along the same lines as the reenactment.
Horror / Thriller Conventions – There is a strong focus on horror movies with a sub genre focusing on television shows, and literature based around the horror and thriller genres. Cosplayers here will be dressed in everything from the classical Dracula to the Jigsaw. You will even find people dressed as random victims. Recently some musicians such as Meatloaf and Alice Cooper have started making some appearances at these events.
Renaissance Fairs – These were once closer to a historical reenactment than a true cosplay event, but that has changed over the years. These events are themed around the Renaissance era and feature a lot of costuming based around that time period. However, due to popular movies such as Braveheart, Monty Python’s Holy Grail, and Pirates of the Caribbean there is also a lot of movie based costumes that still fit into the general era. Fantasy has also been introduced in the form of fairies and it is not uncommon to find Sci-fi characters there on ‘away missions’ or a super hero that has been converted to a costume similar to the era.
Science Fiction Conventions – These conventions will frequently be focused on written science fiction, but they will also cross over into popular or classic sci-fi shows such as Star Trek, Logans Run, Babylon 5, etc.. You will often find these conventions combined with Fantasy conventions, becoming Sci-Fi / Fantasy Conventions.
Special Interest Conventions – Special interest events are focused around one specific show or game such as Doctor Who, Harry Potter, and Final Fantasy. There are even conventions focused on one author such as Dum-Dum which is dedicated to Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Steampunk Conventions – These events focus on the steampunk genre, which is characterized by a Victorian-era setting with elements of science fiction and fantasy. Steampunk steps a little bit to the side of your standard cosplay convention in that most of the characters portrayed are original characters (OC) based around the genre. It’s not advisable to show up at a steampunk convention dressed as your standard cosplay character unless you’ve adapted it to a steampunk theme.
Overall, there are many different types of cosplay conventions, and there is likely a convention that caters to any interest or hobby. Don’t be afraid to check out one of the conventions that isn’t in your normal range. In general cosplayers are a fun group that love to talk about their art, no matter which genre they prefer.