Cosplay is a common term that most of ACG people know about, but have you ever heard of “linguistic cosplay”? It is a relatively new phenomenon in Chinese ACG world where people use their words and words only to cosplay their favorite characters or originally designed characters on chatting apps and social media.
I used to be very active in the area of linguistic cosplay for about 4 years, and I quitted about 2 years ago. When I first joined the game, linguistic cosplay had just been invented for a short time. But it developed very quickly. When I quitted, it was totally different from before, and that was why I still did not know if linguistic cosplay was just a fun game or some weird trap.
There are 3 big categories for Chinese linguistic cosplayers.
The first category is all about being a fan of some anime, novel, comics, etc. People join group chats about their favorite ACG work, and they pick their favorite character to cosplay with words. A good cosplayer needs to know the character’s appearance, personality, and ways to interact with certain characters very well. Adding on to that, the cosplayer needs to have some level of writing ability to organize the words.
Although studying your favorite character deeply could be a challenge, it is still fun when you can talk with other characters in your favorite show, and when others treat you as your own favorite character. However, you cannot always get to play your favorite character, so usually, a cosplayer needs to pass some kind of audition to get into the “official” group chat.
However, you cannot always get to play your favorite character, so usually, a cosplayer needs to pass some kind of audition to get into the “official” group chat. Sometimes, there may be 3 to 4 people competing for one character, and the audition process can be strict. For example, You have to write something in your character’s voice and send it to the group, and there would usually be 4 to 5 judges. Whoever receives the best comments gets the plot.
For example, You have to write something in your character’s voice and send it to the group, and there would usually be 4 to 5 judges. Whoever receives the best comments gets the plot.
The second category is called Ancient-Original. You can feel free to create your own character, give him/her a name, design his/her appearance and background, etc. It is freer than the category above, but the difficult thing is your character lives in ancient China.
The group chats usually provide the historical background for new people so that they know which dynasty their characters would be in. Then the new cosplayers need to upload the design of their characters and some sort of writing to prove that he/she has the ability to pretend to live in the ancient times.
It does need some studying before joining Ancient-Original circle, and this is the only thing that I have never touched in my 4 years of cosplaying. You need to know what kind of clothes, food, and manners exist during the specific time, and when you type in the voice of your character, always remember to use ancient-like tones. It is like you need to talk in Shakespeare’s style to this group of people all the time, and you will hear Shakespeare-style English as well.
The third category is called Modern-Original. It is another place you can design your character (or give yourself another identity), but the background is in our normal world. The group chats of this category are usually based on physical places instead of dynasties. For example, the most popular group chats will be about bars, companies, or apartment buildings.
In this setting, the cosplayers create a place where all the characters have a reason to meet one another, and the story starts from here. In a bar-based group chat, the characters could include managers, bartenders, cooks, servers, cleaners, and customers of different professions.
I spent the most of my time with people in the Modern-Original circle. I liked the group chats I was in and the friends I met, but there were something that made me stop.
Linguistic cosplay is very imaginative but realistic. It is imaginative because everything happens online and basically coming from your own mind. You create another identity for yourself, and others treat you like you are the person you created.
However, it is also very realistic because the person who feels all the feelings is still yourself. you feel everything your character feels, and no matter which circle you are in, you develop relationships with others.
Most of the people who are involved in linguistic cosplaying are girls, aged from middle school to college. Guys are rarely seen. These girls would play both male and female characters, and they (really often) develop romantic relationships with one another.
The problem is that the relationships are not about the person behind the screen, but about the character that these girls are playing. The girls are sometimes too young and naive to tell the difference from imagination to reality.
Although sometimes dramatic things happen, there are also people who find their soul mate through linguistic cosplaying. I actually know several couples who have turned their relationship between characters into the relationship between real people. Some of my own real-life friends come from this group as well.
There is always good relationship and bad relationship, no matter where we are.
Honestly, I have not seen any groups that play the similar game in the States. Have you seen any people who are in similar linguistic cosplay groups? I’d like to hear their or your own stories.
If you are interested in creating something similar and have questions, feel free to ask me. I can give you plenty of help to create a good place, and enough advice to help avoid the drama and any kind of weirdness. Have fun!