The Art of Video Game Cosplays: Bringing Arcade Culture to Life


video game cosplays

Dressing up as a famous arcade game character for Halloween is common. Costumes from Pac-Man, Mario and Luigi, Link and Zelda are often seen at Halloween parties and trick-or-treating. But dressing up as a video game character does not have to be regulated to one day out of the year. Cosplay is a popular and creative way for fans to express their love for their favorite characters from movies, television, comics, and, of course, video and arcade games.  Cosplay combines the passion for dressing in costume, the love of the characters, the sense of community, and the art of crafting a costume. There are plenty of video game characters to cosplay, from classically famous arcade games to new games with new characters. 

video game characters to cosplay

What is Cosplay? 

Cosplay is short for “costume play.” Cosplay is a hobby in which participants, known as cosplayers, dress up in costumes and accessories to represent a specific character. Cosplayers aim to portray the chosen character, including their appearance, personality, and, often, their signature poses or actions. Some cosplays aim for accuracy, having their costume be as close to the source material as possible. Others prefer to put a creative spin on characters and craft something uniquely theirs. 

Cosplayers often go to great lengths to create or acquire costumes that resemble the characters they are emulating. This may involve crafting intricate costumes, props, and accessories and using makeup and wigs to replicate the character’s appearance. The level of detail and craftsmanship in cosplaying can vary widely, ranging from casual or beginner-level costumes to highly elaborate and professional-quality creations.

Cosplay has become a significant aspect of gamer culture, and it is particularly popular at events like comic conventions, anime conventions, and gaming conventions. These events often feature cosplay contests, where participants showcase their costumes and performances, and they provide an opportunity for cosplayers to connect with others who share similar interests. Cosplay is a form of creative expression that allows individuals to celebrate their favorite characters and engage with a community of like-minded fans.

Popular Video Game Cosplay 

Inspiration for video game cosplay can come from famous arcade games or newly released video games. Choosing a video game character to cosplay may depend on how much time and effort you want to put into a costume. Some characters, such as Uncharted’s Nathan Drake, require clothing that can likely be found at a thrift store – a henley, worn jeans, and boots. Tossing any simple ring on a neck chain and the cosplay is recognizable enough, even without the holsters and weapons. Similarly, simple video game cosplays include characters such as Joel from The Last of Us, and Lara Croft from Tomb Raider.  

Other popular video game cosplays include: 

Assassin’s Creed Series: Ezio Auditore or Altair 

Overwatch: Tracer, Reaper, and D.Va. 

The Legend of Zelda: Link and Princess Zelda 

Super Mario Bros.: Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Bowser 

Mass Effect: Commander Shepard, Tali,  and Garrus 

The Witcher Series: Geralt of Rivia and Yennefer 

Games such as League of Legends and Final Fantasy offer a vast roster of characters to choose from. Famous arcade games are also an inspiration for cosplay ideas, and not just those in Super Mario Bros. Characters such as Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, the characters from Sonic the Hedgehog, and Donkey Kong can all make fun video game cosplays. 

gamer culture

Cosplay in Gamer Culture 

The art of cosplay plays a vital part in connecting the gaming community and developing gamer culture. Cosplay is part entertainment, hobby, craft, and community. Key aspects of cosplay include researching the characters and participating in the community. 


Study the character you want to cosplay thoroughly. Take note of their costume details, accessories, and any distinctive features. Research for video game cosplays also includes understanding the story behind the characters, including their culture and ethnicity. Similar to the conversations surrounding Halloween costumes, race, and cultural appropriation, cosplayers should be aware of potential cultural appropriation. Cosplaying a character of a different race or ethnicity than your own is possible, as long as the costume is created respectfully. 


Quality cosplays take time to build. Investing time and materials into creating a costume can make a big impact. Cosplaying is generally a DIY-centered community, with cosplayers building costumes out of whatever materials they have on hand, searching thrift stores for pieces, and crafting props on their own. The creativity and artistry behind building your cosplay is a focal part of video game culture. In addition to the costume and props, using makeup and wigs to recreate the character’s appearance can improve your costume. 

Community and Events

Connecting with the cosplay community online and attending gaming conventions and events are huge parts of the community. Conventions such as ComicCons and video game conventions allow cosplays to share their costumes, enter contests, and connect with others. Different events have different costume rules, especially regarding fake weapons and props. A key component of cosplay culture is respect, which includes understanding any event’s rules. 

The internet allows cosplay enthusiasts to come together even without in-person events and conventions. Online, cosplayers reach out to each other for tips, to share their work, to help figure out which video game characters to cosplay, to build friendships, and to enjoy the experience with fellow enthusiasts.

Social media pages, groups, and forums eliminate barriers to participating actively in gamer culture. Conventions and similar events can come with hefty ticket and travel costs, whereas the internet allows video game fans from all walks of life to actively participate in the community. 

video game cosplays

Chicago’s Best Arcade for Video Game Fans 

Looking to gather inspiration for your next game-based cosplay? Our Wintrust Sports Complex in Bedford Park has a 4,000-square-foot redemption arcade that offers all the latest and most nostalgic arcade games. Our redemption arcade is perfect for any occasion. The Wintrust Sports Complex conveniently offers laser tag, basketball and volleyball courts, flexible meeting and event spaces, as well as a bar and lounge with full kitchen service to meet all your needs. Come visit us today!