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Cosplay Contest Rules & Guidelines

Cosplay Contest Rules & Guidelines

 

 

Main Cosplay Contest

You are the GOAT! Your cosplay power is over 9000! Unleash your dormant anime superpowers on the main stage and show off that cosplay you've been slaving over since before the pandemic started.

This competition is open to all skill levels and accounts for performance, showmanship, and stage presence. This contest has pre-qualification rules, a limited number of open spots, and includes segments for both walk-ons and skits.

  • When: Saturday, June 4th, Evening
  • Where: Irving Convention Center, 4th Floor
  • Signups: Open March 5th - April 23rd. Click here to signup.
  • Awards: Awards are issued immediately following a brief intermission after the contest. Entertainment will be provided during intermission, so make sure to stay put and see if your favorites won!

 

Section I: Contest Rules

Everyone hates rules, but we can't go around creating chaos everywhere. So, here's everything you need to know about being in the Main Cosplay Contest.

 

Eligibility
  • You must have a valid A-Kon badge to participate. (And yes the badge also has to be for this year.)
  • If you are under the age of 13, you must have your parent or guardian's permission to enter and you must also be accompanied by your parent or guardian during judging, rehearsal and the contest.
  • When you sign up for this contest you agree to read and abide by all rules as posted. If you don't, bad stuff happens and we may have to disqualify you or worse. Please don't make us have to do awkward and uncomfortable things.
  • We, and by we I mean our cosplay staff or really any A-Kon staff, reserve the right to refuse entry or participation to anyone for any reason. We also reserve the right not to explain it to you if you are being difficult.

 

Contest Rules & Guidelines
  • The Main Cosplay Contest is rated TEEN. Severely offensive language and overt sexual humor is not cool. Be clever, not crass. Judgment on the appropriateness of material is left to the discretion of our cosplay staff.
  • All costumes entered must adhere to the cosplay, costume and dress policy. If your costume does not meet this criteria you may be asked to change or not permitted to walk the stage. 
  • 75% of the cosplay must be constructed or altered by the entrant. If you are modeling a cosplay that someone else made, they MUST be with you at pre-judging for you to be eligible for an award.
  • Purchased or commissioned cosplays are NOT eligible for any awards and cannot be entered into the contest except as part of a skit. 
  • Skill levels are strictly enforced. If an entrant is deemed above the skill level of the division they have entered by the judges, they will be moved up a division. If an entrant is found to have intentionally entered a class below their skill level, things get awkward and bad stuff happens. Don't do this.
  • Be respectful to other cosplay entrants and the judges. Unruly or disruptive behavior during pre-judging, backstage, or during the contest is not permitted and entrants associated with this behavior will be sent to the place where the awkward and bad stuff happens.
  • Judges are not permitted to discuss the judging process or the results. Nobody likes to be harassed and we have already hooked the judges up so your feeble attempts at bribery will not work here.
  • Entrants must be able to enter and exit the stage quickly on their own. If your costume/prop is also over 9000 (meaning too big for you to get on and off the stage by yourself easily), you may bring a handler to assist you. Our cosplay staff will not be able to provide a handler for you.
  • Entrants with disabilities are welcome to provide their own handler or request handler assistance from our cosplay staff for any stage of the cosplay contest process. If you think you may need assistance, we encourage you to contact us in advance or request assistance during the pre-judging process.
  • To prevent sandbagging, entrants wishing to compete with costumes that have previously won a costume competition must declare this upon registration. In order to be accepted, at least 60% of the costume must be altered or remade since the costume last won an award and the costume must also be entered in a higher skill division if one exists. Failure to inform the judges and our cosplay staff of this will result in a very awkward conversation where we will ask you to take your costume (and all your future costumes) elsewhere...permanently.
  • Group entries of up to 8 people are allowed. Entrants may not participate in multiple groups. 
  • Costumes entered must be presented with reference images and recreate characters from anime, manga, animation, etc. At least one reference image must be in color. Reference images must be provided during pre-judging and may be provided on any viable medium including, but not limited to, paper, phone, tablet, etc.
  • Original characters will not be permitted; however, art book variations and reinterpretations of existing characters (including gijinka) will be allowed with an accompanying reference.
  • Progress portfolios are HIGHLY encouraged as they include photo documentation of your work from start to finish.
  • Professional cosplayers ARE WELCOME to enter. A professional cosplayer is anyone who makes a significant portion of their income from costume design, construction or sales or feels they are a master of their craft. If you are a pro, you MUST enter in the MASTER division.
  • All contestants must participate in the Main Cosplay Contest pre-meeting and rehearsal on Saturday. If you arrive late or after the rehearsal you will not be allowed to compete or participate in the contest.

 

How to Enter:

Sign ups will take place online. Slots that do not fill by the deadline will be available on site in Cosplay HQ on-site on a first come, first served basis until all spaces are filled. Skits will not be accepted on site due to the approval process required.

If there are available slots on-site, we will accept signups at the following times:

  • Friday, 6/3 from 10AM - 3PM
  • Saturday, 6/4 from 10AM - 2PM

The times above are subject to change and will no longer be available once all slots for the contest have been filled.

Each entrant (or group leader) must fill out the Cosplay Sign-Up Application online (link is at the top of this page). Only one entry per group is allowed.

If you enter a skit, the audio recording (or a download link) must be submitted to us via email at cosplay@a-kon.com on or before the deadline cutoff to be considered for approval.

Once your entry is confirmed, you must check in at Cosplay HQ (Irving Convention Center, 3rd floor) at your scheduled judging time or you will be dropped from the contest. Additionally, please let us know how many parents/handlers you will be bringing backstage with you at your check-in so we can make sure enough seats are available during the contest.

 

Walk-On Rules
  • We're sure you have excellent taste in music, but you will not be able to submit your own track for your walk on. We will choose from our fine selection of licensed music so we don't get sued.
  • Walk-on entries will be limited to 30 seconds and may include up to 8 people. 
  • Walk-on entries are required to attend craftsmanship judging. If you skip this, you will not be eligible to receive awards or participate in the contest.

 

Skit Rules
  • Skits will be primarily judged on performance and visual impact. Craftsmanship judging is OPTIONAL, and purchased/commissioned costumes will be permitted if permission is granted by the creator.
  • Skit entries that are judged for craftsmanship will additionally choose a craftsmanship division and be eligible for craftsmanship based awards.
  • All skit audio must be pre-recorded, including all dialogue, music, and sound effects. Audio tracks must be received by our cosplay staff by the application deadline regardless of when the application was filled out.
  • A video or written script must be submitted with your audio that includes all speaking parts and stage directions. Surprise your audience, not your staff or judges. Skits that do not submit both a visual/written script and an audio will not be accepted.
  • Written scripts will not be accepted in lieu of recorded audio in order to meet the deadline. Any skit entries that do not submit a pre-recorded soundtrack by the deadline will be disqualified.
  • Should a soundtrack or skit be deemed inappropriate, entrants will be allowed to re-record it once. Once the audio has been approved, it may not be changed or resubmitted for ANY reason. If submitted audio tracks exceed the time limit, they will be cut off at 2.5 minutes.
  • Skit performances will be limited to 2.5 minutes on stage with one minute allowed for setup.
  • Dance skits must feature original choreography. Dancing along to music videos is fun, but please show off your own talents!
  • Skit performances cannot exceed more than 8 people, including handlers and set crew (“stage ninjas”).

 

Stage Rules
  • No microphones may be used by the contestants at any time. All audio material must be pre-recorded and submitted as a skit entry.
  • Everything brought onto the stage during a skit or walk-on entry must be removed at the end of the time limit. Messy substances including confetti, glitter, flower petals, and water are not allowed.
  • Pyrotechnics or special effects such as fireworks, flash paper, or smoke machines will not be allowed on the stage or backstage area.
  • Contestants may not throw anything off the stage or into the crowd.
  • Non-firing toy weapons will be allowed on-stage without peace bonding, but any live weapons will result in immediate removal from the stage. No food, animals, or remote control devices are allowed on stage.
  • All stage fighting or acrobatics must be limited to ¾ speed and quarter strength. One foot must remain on the floor at all times. Climbing onto the stage or leaping off the stage is strictly prohibited.

 

Craftsmanship Judging
  • All costumes must be made by the entrant(s) or credited to the creator(s) on the entrant’s entry form. Creators not entering in costume must be present to receive awards. Purchased costumes will not be allowed for craftsmanship judging. 
  • All walk-on entries must be at least 75% made or significantly modified from original garments.
  • When filling out the application, you must choose a one-hour block during which your group will come in for judging. If your first choice is full, you will be asked to choose another time slot. Each entry will be allowed 3 minutes to present their costume to the judges; groups of 3+ people will be allowed one minute for each additional group member (up to a maximum of 6 minutes). Entries that go over their time limit may be disqualified. Please be courteous to your fellow cosplayers and to your judges by keeping your presentation brief! 
  • Pre-judging is NOT open to the public. Only participants, handlers, and parents/guardians are allowed.
  • Craftsmanship judging will take place in Cosplay HQ. Please arrive a few minutes early if possible in order to check in, as entries for each block will be judged in the order they arrive. If you arrive late, you may not have the chance to be rescheduled. If you find out in advance that you will not be able to make your timeslot, please contact us. Entries that do not show up for judging will be disqualified. 
  • There will be Saturday morning judging ONLY. You may check in to the contest either Friday during open table hours or Saturday before your judging time.
  • Reference images and progress binders used as part of craftsmanship presentations must be picked up after the contest or they will be destroyed.

 

Section II: Entry Types, Skill Level Guidelines & Awards

Here are guidelines on allowed entry types, skill levels, divisions and a list of awards for our Main Cosplay Contest.

 

Entry Types
  • Skits: Contestants perform on stage. Performance can be a skit, music, dancing, martial arts, etc. Skits are restricted to two and a half (2.5) minutes on the stage.
  • Walk-On: Contestants walk onto the stage and do several different poses for at least 30 seconds to show off their costume.

 

Skill Levels & Divisions

Here is a list of Skill Levels, sometimes referred to as divisions. If you have questions about which division you should be in, feel free to ask us. We would be to assist you.

  • All groups must enter the division applicable to the most skilled member of the group.
  • Any division receiving fewer than [4] entries will be omitted from the contest and entries will be moved to different divisions as appropriate for their level.
  • We reserve the right to move your placement to another division if we think it's a better fit for you.

 

Novice

The Novice division exists to encourage people who are new to costuming to compete.

You should enter if: 

  • You are new to costuming, have never competed before, or are not a professional costumer.
  • You have competed in the Novice division, but you have not won any awards.
  • You have competed in the Novice division, but have won less than three major awards.

You should not enter the Novice division if:

  • You are a professional costumer.
  • You have competed or won an award in Journeyman/Masters/Advanced.

 

Journeyman

The Journeyman division is an interim division for costumers who have consistently won awards in the Novice division, but who feel they are not yet ready to compete in the Master division.

You should enter if: 

  • You have been cosplaying for a number of years but do not yet feel like a master of your craft or are not a professional costumer. 
  • You have won more than three major awards in the Novice division or less than two in the Journeyman division.

 

You should not enter the Journeyman division if:

  • You are a professional costumer.
  • You have competed or won in the Master division. 
  • You have won Best in Show, Best Youth, or Best Journeyman. 
  • You have won more than three awards in the Journeyman division.

 

 

Master

The Master division is open to any competitor who wishes to enter. Professionals MUST enter this category.

If you have questions or are not sure what category you qualify for, our cosplay staff would be happy to help you figure it out.

 

Awards
  • Best in Show - This award is to be granted to the entry that shows an overall exceptional degree of craftsmanship and execution. This award may be given to an entry in any division. 
  • Best in Division- Given to an entrant who has shown an exceptional degree of craftsmanship and presentation for their division.
  • Best Craftsmanship - Given to an entry which displays an exceptional degree of craftsmanship. 
  • Best Performance- Given to an entry which demonstrates exceptional performance and execution. 
  • Judges’ Awards - Each judge may grant an award to an entry that they feel is exceptional.

NOTE: Only trophies will be handed out on stage. Any other prizes must be picked up by the winners immediately following the cosplay contest.

 

 

Hall Cosplay Contest

This is our craftsmanship-only contest and is for cosplayers and costumers who want to compete solely on their craftsmanship. This competition is open to all skill levels, requires less of a time commitment than the main contest, and has no stage requirements. This contest has no pre-qualification rules to participate and is open to as many competitors as can be judged in the time allotted. Because this contest is not a stage contest, there are no walk-on requirements or skits allowed. If you’re looking to see how you measure up, but want a stage-free, casual experience with more time to enjoy the event, this is your contest!

  • When: Friday, 2PM - 5PM & Saturday, 11AM - 2PM
  • Where: Cosplay HQ (Irving Convention Center, 3rd Floor)
  • Awards: Awards are issued after the main cosplay contest intermission. Entertainment will be provided during intermission, so make sure to stay put and see if your favorites won!

 

Section I: Contest Rules

Here's everything you need to know about being in the Hall Cosplay Contest.

 

Eligibility
  • You must have a valid A-kon badge to participate. (And yes the badge also has to be for this year.)
  • If you are under the age of 13, you must have your parent or guardian's permission to enter and you must also be accompanied by your parent or guardian during judging, rehearsal and the contest.
  • When you sign up for this contest you agree to read and abide by all rules as posted. If you don't, bad stuff happens and we may have to disqualify you or worse. Please don't make us have to do awkward and uncomfortable things.
  • We, and by we I mean our cosplay staff or really any A-Kon staff, reserve the right to refuse entry or participation to anyone for any reason. We also reserve the right not to explain it to you if you are being difficult.

 

Contest Rules & Guidelines
  • All costumes entered must adhere to the cosplay, costume and dress policy. If your costume does not meet this criteria you may be asked to change or not permitted to walk the stage. 
  • 80% of the cosplay must be constructed or altered by the entrant. If you are modeling a cosplay that someone else made, they MUST be with you at judging for you to be eligible for an award.
  • Be respectful to other cosplay entrants and the judges. Unruly or disruptive behavior during pre-judging, backstage, or during the contest is not permitted and entrants associated with this behavior will be sent to the place where the awkward and bad stuff happens.
  • Cosplayers may enter both the Hall Cosplay Contest and the Main Cosplay Contest, but may not enter the same costume in both events.
  • To prevent sandbagging, entrants wishing to compete with costumes that have previously won a costume competition must declare this upon registration. In order to be accepted, at least 60% of the costume must be altered or remade since the costume last won an award and the costume must also be entered in a higher skill division if one exists. Failure to inform the judges and our cosplay staff of this will result in a very awkward conversation where we will ask you to take your costume (and all your future costumes) elsewhere...permanently.
  • Costumes entered must be presented with reference images and recreate characters from anime, manga, animation, etc. At least one reference image must be in color. Reference images must be provided during pre-judging and may be provided on any viable medium including, but not limited to, paper, phone, tablet, etc.
  • Original characters will not be permitted; however, art book variations and reinterpretations of existing characters (including gijinka) will be allowed with an accompanying reference.

 

Section II: Entry, Process, Skill Levels & Awards

 

Entry
  • Each entry (groups count as a single entry, regardless of size) will be allowed 3 minutes to talk to the judges and show off their work. Entries that go over this time may be disqualified.
  • Entries will only be accepted during the times posted.

 

The Process
  • Show up to Cosplay HQ and fill out a simple form during open hours wearing the cosplay you want to be judged in.  The information you provide is kept confidential and destroyed after the contest. 
  • Answer questions and talk to the judges at the table. Photos may be taken to reference later.
  • There is no stage walk stage or requirement to perform in front of others for Hall Cosplay, but awards are announced and given on the main stage during the Main Cosplay Contest.

 

Skill Levels

These are guidelines to help you figure out where you should be placed. If you have questions, feel free to ask a judge or staff member to assist you. Judges and Coordinator reserve the right to move your placement.

 

Novice

The Novice division exists to encourage people who are new to costuming and masquerades to compete.

You should enter if: 

  • You are new to costuming, have never competed before, or are not a professional costumer.
  • You have won a major award in the Novice division less than three times.

You should not enter the Novice division if:

  • You are a professional costumer.
  • You have competed or won an award in Journeyman/Masters/Advanced.

 

Journeyman

The Journeyman division is an interim division for costumers who have consistently won awards in the Novice division, but who feel they are not yet ready to compete in the Master division.

You should enter if: 

  • You have been cosplaying for a number of years but do not yet feel like a master of your craft or are not a professional costumer. 
  •  You have won more than three major awards in the Novice division or less than two in the Journeyman division.

 

You should not enter the Journeyman division if:

  • You are a professional costumer.
  • You have competed or won in the Master divisions. 
  • You have won Best in Show, Best Youth, or Best Journeyman. 
  • You have won more than three major awards in the Journeyman division. 
  • Minor awards may be counted at the discretion of the costumer.

 

Master

The Master division is open to any competitor who wishes to enter. Professionals MUST enter this category.

If you have questions or are not sure what category you qualify for, cosplay staff would be happy to help you figure it out. If you are entering as a group you must enter under the highest placing member.

 

Awards
  • Best in Hall - This award is to be granted to the entry that shows an overall exceptional degree of craftsmanship and execution. This award may be given to an entry in any division. 
  • Best Novice - Given to an entrant who has shown an exceptional degree of craftsmanship and presentation for the Novice division.
  • Best Journeyman - Given to an entrant who has shown an exceptional degree of craftsmanship and presentation for the Journeyman division.
  • Best Master- Given to an entrant who has shown an exceptional degree of craftsmanship and presentation for the Master division.

Awards are announced on stage during the Main Cosplay Contest.

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