Behind the Cosplay Costume: Three Dutch Girls and their Practice of Cosplay

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By Anita van der Aar

Dressing up once in a while is mostly just something small children do, right? Well, no. In the case of cosplay many young adults take part in an activity that goes beyond simply dressing up. The word “cosplay” is a portmanteau that combines “costume” and “play.” “Play” in this sense implies a sort of performing activity, while “costume” implies that people who conduct the activity need particular outfits and accessories in order to perform. Most people simply see cosplaying as a form of dressing up in weird clothing, pretending to become a fictional character in order to escape from reality. But I became curious about the people behind the cosplay costume. Are they really trying to escape from reality by acting in a deviant manner or is more nuance required? I believe that an approach that pays attention to the agency of young people who cosplay is important if we want to understand what moves them to cosplay. Continue reading

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Join the fun! An ethnography of fun and subcultural entrepreneurship in the skateboarding scene of Puebla, Mexico

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By Kaj Dekker

Scene 1: Another sunny day at the Xonaca skate park in Puebla, Mexico. People are skateboarding, filming or having conversations while secretly sharing caguamones, a bottled liter of beer. A group of friends is sitting in the hot sun, enjoying their conversation as well as their beer. Suddenly, one of them challenges a friend. “I call a bet! If the next guy jumping down the stairs makes his trick, I buy you a new board. If he lands the trick, you buy me one, alright?” The friend agrees and they wait until someone approaches the stairs. In the meantime, cigarettes are shared, jokes are made and fun is had. After some time, a skateboarder starts checking out the set of stairs, clearly trying to visualize his trick. As he takes a few steps back to gain some speed for the jump, he accelerates. He approaches the stairs and jumps. In the middle of the jump he fails to get his position straight. As he lands he breaks his board, he sees the bunch of friends going wild. Seemingly out of nowhere a guy comes up to the skater and asks him if he would like to buy a new skateboard. The friends overhear this conversation and whistle to signal the salesman to come over. What does a shop-less salesman do at the skate park of Xonaca? The friends buy a skateboard from him, which he gets from the trunk of his car. They give the old deck to the skater who broke his board. In the end, one skateboarder broke his boards and two got a new one. How does this informal economy come about in a commerce-free setting as the Xonaca skate park?

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Playing at work – ‘This is not a friends’ club’: Pro-gamers’ negotiations of play and work

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By Diego Arguedas Ortiz

Abstract: Gaming is still seen as a hobby or a leisure activity by the average person out there, including many academics. But there is a massive global community of professional (pro-) gamers that has been disregarded by both the media, society and academia, with most research still focusing on recreational gaming. This paper aims to provide insight into the little-known world of pro-gaming. Specifically, it intends to shed light on the way pro-gamers create life strategies to negotiate ‘work-time’ and ‘play-time’ when gaming online, and how this relates to broader life and career paths within the expanding pro-gaming industry. The research for this paper resulted in two major discoveries: first, pro-gamers ‘label’ who they play with and, based on that, they are able to separate play from work; and second, gamers can commit to months or years of this career because the younger generations they are part of no longer follow the traditional career paths set by society. Continue reading

‘Vak 410’-members and the changing meaning of hooliganism in the Amsterdam Arena

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By Charlotte Prenen

Football is a sport that can bring people together. Every week people come together with a shared love for football. It is a sport that can evoke different emotions, from happiness to pride, sadness to even resentment and hate. The love for a particular football club can take various degrees. ‘Hooligans’ would go pretty far to support their club and to fight rival groups. Sometimes supporters use violence, which is typically associated with hooliganism. However, hooliganism has more to it than violence. The hooligan culture is a subculture with its own norms and values. For example, frequent use of alcohol and drugs can be ‘part of the game’. It is all the risk-taking behavior together that makes someone a ‘hooligan’. But hooligans are not only people who take part in violent activities and use alcohol and drugs, they also meet on a regular basis to go to live matches or watch matches on TV together. For many of them, fellow hooligans are like a family. In this paper I will examine one such ‘family’: the hardcore Ajax fans known as ‘Vak 410’ (Box 410), after the box where they are seated in the Amsterdam Arena. Continue reading

Pokémon communities: A look as to why this blasted trend is still around and still strong

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By Thomas Smith

The information is outdated. The breaking news is old history. The spoilers now rest in common knowledge. Upon writing this essay half a year ago, I knew that the information content I was analyzing and processing would be out of date in six months, eight weeks, or heck, maybe two days.

The themes? Still applicable (for now). As expected.

This interactive essay/blog serves as a snapshot, a glimpse into a time when new content information was released and heavily shared (and a peek into a period where I believed tumblr was an appropriate medium for an interactive, academic blog). It provides a look into the processes, actions, and exchanges in the Pokémon Community pre- and post- release of new games Pokémon X and Pokémon Y. While the themes and theories of online gaming communication are overarching, the fulfillment and practices upholding them are ever-changing, shaped by the inflow and outflow of new information. Where this essay serves as a slice out of history, unaltered and unedited since its creation, it leaves the option for future exploration and longitudinal study.

Enter the essay here.

(Written for Youth Cultures in a Transnational Context)