Monday, 19 May 2014

Operation Mass Effect begins

It started with a girl and a desperate need for lemonade.

I'd been dorking out with my friend Allison, and was in her kitchen grabbing a drink. I'd recently stopped LARPing (live action role playing) and was looking for something else to waste my spare time. Then, stuck on the fridge, I noticed a tattered flyer. It was hot pink, with a cartoon nerd next to words emblazoned in a typical sci-fi font: CAMCON.

The flyer that started it all.
"What's that?" I asked, pointing so there was no possibility of misinterpretation.

"A fridge," Allison trolled. Or maybe she said refrigerator, or ice box, or cheese box, or some American equivalent; she and her husband are California exiles.

"I mean the flyer."

A mischievous grin. "I know. It's a convention that a friend's helping to organise at the end of August."

It was only mid-May. I was changing a lot of things in my life; a new job, a new diet to cut out the flab, a new approach to life in general. I was going to need a new hobby, too.

"What's this about Cosplay?"

"What it says, a Cosplay contest."

I thought about it for a whole five seconds. The part of LARP I loved was making my own (terrible) costumes. I'd created proton packs out of diet coke bottles and alarm clocks, built tridents out of Halloween toys, and once turned up dressed identically as another character for a giggle. Maybe this was the challenge I craved.

"How about I come?"

"If you want."  This seemed to be an implicit, if mildly disinterested, endorsement of my as-yet unannounced scheme.

"In Cosplay. For the contest."

"As what?"

I paused. I wanted to do something epic. Something memorable. Something that would eat away hours of my life and fill the gnawing boredom of being single.

"Commander Shepard. From Mass Effect."

Allison nodded approval, although she has (strangely proudly) never played a computer game other than Baldur's Gate. "A popular choice."

On the way home I refreshed my memory of the signature Shepard look. It was only then I realised what I'd committed to making. A full suit of foam armour, guns, straps and some kind of see-through orange arm knife. 

I had never worked with foam before. I didn't even know where to get it.

I was also never going to fit in a costume like that. I'd need to lose 50 pounds at least.

Operation Mass Effect had started.