It is Halloween. The seance of shadows, the raucous cavort of a thousand ghouls, the spooky day. This means you need a costume.
Generally, a Halloween costume should accomplish a couple goals: First, it should impress or at least vaguely amuse the people around you. Second, it should prove you’re a gamer. It can be deceptively difficult to find a costume that checks those boxes and contorts to the unique ridges of your own beautiful soul. I’m here to help.
Now, it’s a little late in the game to be rushing out to buy a Halloween costume, but that doesn’t mean that approximately 65 percent of all human adults aren’t planning to do so as soon as they get off work today anyway. So let’s assess what your particular store-bought, worrisomely flimsy gamer Halloween costume will say about you, should you choose it—or should it choose you. (Note: Costume selection largely based on that of my own local Halloween shop, which really, honestly did have most of these things.)
You’re nothing if not persistent. Much like the Gears of War video game franchise, you might have lost some heat over the years, but it’s 2019, and you’re still technically alive. Times and seasons may change, but you still really, really want an excuse to carry your plastic chainsaw gun around outside, and now is finally the time. Also, you might be Cliff Bleszinski.
You really like fan fiction. However, in the wake of Blizzard’s handling of the Hearthstone Hong Kong fiasco, you are deeply conflicted about your costume choice. If someone asks who you are, there’s a strong chance that, instead of Reaper, you’ll claim to be a futuristic version of Ghostface from Scream—which, all things considered, is not untrue.
You’ve never kidnapped anyone, but you’ve spent extended periods of time thinking about what it would be like.
When you are home alone preparing dinner, you hold butter knives like they’re hidden blades and, if you’re certain nobody can see in through your window, you do poses, too. You also own more than ten articles of clothing with hoods, and you put those hoods up at every opportunity—even when you’re inside. Honestly, you don’t really need to buy this costume. You probably already own the parts needed to make it yourself.
You spend a lot of time trying to convince your old college friends to play Destiny.
You’re quiet, but you have strong opinions about traditional notions of heroism, good, and evil. If you’re going as Zelda specifically, you also feel tremendously underutilized in basically all aspects of life.
You still have nightmares about the time when you were eight years old and a Chuck E. Cheese animatron broke down and emitted a single, high-pitched wailing sound for 30 consecutive minutes. You’re considering bringing it up in therapy.
You know who Tyler “Ninja” Blevins is. However, nobody will have any idea who you are—not even some Fortnite players.
You’re extremely happy that Minecraft is cool again, because you’ve actually had this costume ever since PAX in 2011, where you ran around in it and made hissing noises while hugging people from behind. You’ve (hopefully) since learned to just never, ever do that. You also still laugh at old memes—like, an inappropriate amount.
Each morning, you wake up and see only chaos in the world around you. You embrace that chaos. You bathe in it.
You are a person of taste and culture who is not afraid to get their hands dirty if it means standing up for a cause you believe in.
You are just as confused as I am about the fact that perfectly enjoyable but not, like, massively well-known indie exploration game Astroneer has an official Halloween costume.
You love Sonic in that way all Sonic fans do, where they also hate Sonic a little and themselves a lot. You viewed the trailer for the live-action Sonic movie as a canvas for both memes and your confused feelings toward the now-egregiously-furry blue blur. You were, in spite of yourself, slightly disappointed when you found out human-mouthed nightmare Sonic was getting a design revamp. You view this as a chance to give this weird piece of internet history a proper sendoff, and you don’t mind wearing an incredibly uncomfortable child’s large costume to do it. You are literally me.
Video games are mainstream now. Even people who don’t play many, or any, games can probably recognize a pretty wide range of gamer Halloween costumes. But let’s say the worst case scenario happens: You’re minding your own business at a party, bar, or alone in your living room, and somebody you don’t know walks up and, in a vaguely dismissive tone that puts you off from ever wanting to know them, asks: “What are you supposed to be?”
At this point, you have some options. You can glance down into your mostly empty red Solo cup and mumble “A video game character.” Or, if you strongly dislike the person asking, you can go in the complete opposite direction and overload them with lore that is not in any way necessary to explain your costume.
If, however, this is an entirely neutral encounter with a stranger or acquaintance who seems chill enough, I recommend avoiding getting bogged down in details. Keep it short and simple. Say who the character is, what the game is, and why you think they’re cool. For example, let’s say you’re Tracer. She’s from Overwatch. She’s cool because she’s fast and gay. If whoever you’re talking to expresses further interest, then feel free to tell them more—for example, that Tracer would probably not approve of Blizzard’s handling of the Hong Kong situation. You know: light, easy fare.
I actually think this applies to all costumes, not just cheap, store-bought gamer ones. Lengthy explanations rapidly become awkward. Costumes make Halloween fun, but unless a ton of work went into them, they’re not the focal point of the night. Instead, they’re a gateway to conversation or, depending on the event, itchy, uncomfortable dance parties. So don’t feel the need to over-explain. Just do your best to have a nice, chill time and ignore the horrible wedgie your child’s large movie Sonic costume has been giving you for the past three hours.