I’m confident most of you reading this have some familiarity with the terms “cosplayers” and “streamers.” It’s funny to imagine, just five or even ten years ago, stating you “watch Twitch” to much of the general public would evoke a blank stare. In the current state of a worldwide pandemic however, the global stage of the internet is not only safe by avoiding in-person contact but also a new way people are consuming video content like never before. The same is true for the creators, finding new ways to take costumes prepared for cancelled cosplay events and display their hard work from home. Below I chat with three talented cosplayers who are also avid gamers, each meshing their two hobbies into one!

Cosplaying and streaming have seen their rise in popularity along similar timelines with technological leaps and bounds. Cosplaying became a term of fan-costuming in Japan in the mid-80s, and over time became popularized in the Western world by the early 2000s. Most of the technological advances for cosplay relate to materials like thermoplastics (which I cover in depth in a previous article) and 3D printers.

Streaming is even younger than cosplaying with the need for advanced internet speeds and highly capable, affordable machines including computers, webcams, and microphones. Twitch has only been around since 2011, just under a decade. With how young these hobbies are, it is no surprise a new merge of these interests is blossoming simultaneously for these experienced individuals.

Meet the Cosplayers/Streamers

@Zabracus—Zab: twitch.tv/zabracus

Zabracus (Zaa-Bruh-Cuss) is a Twitch Partner and part of the esports team, Fade2Karma (F2K). She primarily plays Standard Constructed Ranked in MTGA. Occasionally she throws in cosplay-making streams. Before streaming MTGA, you could find her streaming Overwatch, RPG Final Fantasy 7 & 8 (with extra fun voice acting for them), The Witcher 3, Fallout 76, etc.

@NessaMeowMeow—Nessa twitch.tv/nessameowmeow

Nessa is a Twitch Partner and was a Mythic Invitational Competitor. She mostly plays Arena and in the past has mostly played Standard, but lately she has been playing more Historic. She only streams MTG content at the moment.

@JanaAmari—Jana twitch.tv/janaamari

Jana is a Twitch Partner focusing on competitive Standard MTG; every season she places into Mythic rank. She values making sure her community is having a good time!

Which came first, cosplay or streaming?

Nessa: I started cosplaying before I started streaming. I’ve been cosplaying for about ten years and streaming for two and a half.

Zab: Cosplay came first. I started cosplaying in the fall of 2013 for Salt Lake Comic Con’s inaugural show, and in 2015 I started cosplaying professionally and guesting at conventions. I started streaming very casually in June of 2017, and didn’t start playing MTG until July of 2019 when I finally decided to give MTGA a proper go. And then of course I fell in love with the game!

Jana: Cosplay came first for me too, but I started streaming not long after I started costuming as a way to compliment my hobby, in 2013. I streamed cosplay and variety games occasionally at the time, but didn’t have a set schedule and focused more on cosplay. I took a break from streaming altogether in 2017 and came back to streaming in 2019 when I started playing Magic!

Since cosplay was first for each of you, who was your first cosplay?

Jana: My first cosplay was the character Nidalee from League of Legends.

Nessa: My first cosplay was school uniform Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Zab: My first cosplay was Tifa Lockhart from Final Fantasy 7 from my favorite video game.

Wow! No MTG cosplays to start but all awesome geekdoms. What got each of you into playing Magic?

Zab: Like most things in my life, it just kind of happened. I’ve been a huge fan of D&D for ~6 years and used to casually be into Hearthstone. In late 2018/early 2019, my cosplay and streaming friend Alkali Layke kept nudging me to get into MTGA, insisting that it’s a game I would love since it was like D&D and Hearthstone, so I downloaded the game and gave it a go. I was absolutely terrible at first and only knew how to play Mono Red, but I had a blast anyway. With A lot of help from Twitch Chat, and loads of practice, I finally became decent at the game, and now routinely hit Mythic in standard. I’m still dipping my toes into Limited and have yet to try Brawl, but I’ll master them all eventually. *cue evil Liliana laughter*

Jana: I got into card games in general after cosplaying at the DotA2: The International 2018 event. Valve was promoting a new DotA2 card game called Artifact at the time and all the cosplayers qualified for the cosplay contest got beta access to the game. I was completely hooked to Artifact and took an interest in card games in general. When Artifact died, I was looking for a new card game. Thanks to a couple targeted ads on Reddit, I discovered Magic Arena. I remember watching the War of the Spark trailer and was in complete awe. I’ve been playing Magic ever since!

Nessa: A friend of mine recommended me to a position at my local game store because she knew I played many card games for many years. The store owner said he would hire me if I learned MTG. I did, loved it, and have been playing ever since.

It’s clear each of your love for gaming runs deep. I see you all have a passion for Magic now, so who was your first cosplay from the game?

Nessa: My first MTG cosplay was Liliana (origins flip version). I’ve also cosplayed as Saheeli Rai and Renata, Called to the Hunt from Theros Beyond Death. My most recent MTG cosplay is almost finished and is Shahrazad.

Zab: My first MTG cosplay is Chandra, a casual waist-up version for stream. I’ve also done casual versions of Liliana, Nahiri, and Nissa. I am currently working on an Avacyn cosplay (very slowly) that I had initially planned on entering into the 2020 Twitchcon Cosplay contest. But with the state of the world, that’s been put on hold. I’ll get back around to it in a few months I’m sure, fully mechanized wings and all.

Jana: My first MTG cosplay was Liliana Vess for stream, and my most recent MTG cosplay is Elspeth Tirel which I was supposed to debut at MagicFest Seattle in June 2020. I haven’t really been in the MTG community for long so my goal is to create more MTG cosplays since the community seems to love them!

All three of these artistic gamers had awesome cosplays in the works to debut in 2020. It’s a bummer events are cancelled but at least the streaming stage is still an option.

Are there any differences for you cosplaying in person versus cosplaying on stream?

Jana: When creating a cosplay for stream, I only focus on the top half for sure! You can cheat the makeup as well, depending on the video camera you have, as it captures less details than DSLR cameras on cosplay photo shoots. I also focus on making the cosplay comfortable to wear, as sitting down in cosplay is not the most comfortable thing in the world sometimes. At conventions where I like to show off my costuming skill, I definitely take aesthetics over comfort and spend a lot more time on my makeup as well.

Nessa: When I’ve done cosplay on stream I tend to not worry about properly putting on a wig. I don’t worry about the bottom half of the cosplay, and I tend to do my makeup differently for stream and for events. I usually use a darker shade for foundation, bigger false eyelashes, and darker eyeshadow than normal because of the camera and lights I use. If I’m doing makeup for an event I make sure to use a primer for long-wear makeup, normal sized false lashes, and a matte foundation/powder that looks good in flash photography.

Zab: As these ladies pointed out cosplaying on stream vs cosplay in person is so different! Cosplaying on stream is definitely easier. I generally only prepare the top half and up, which makes it quite nice. Makeup wise, I sadly use about the same. For conventions, I have to put on loads of makeup so my face shows up in photos in the absolutely terrible convention lighting, and for stream cosplay I also have to put a lot on so my face shows up and isn’t washed out from the cameras and lighting. I definitely put on less makeup setting spray for stream though, since it doesn’t need to be *perfect* for quite as long. Like Jana said, I also forget or altogether forego minor details in cosplay for stream since those details won’t be noticed any way.

You all clearly have a strong grasp on cosplay, and as all of you are Twitch Partners I want to ask the question I see very frequently asked of both cosplayers and streamers, especially for those interested in trying either or both:

How do you balance your streaming/cosplaying schedule with work and life?

Jana: I work from home full-time during the day and stream during the nights. I take two days off from streaming, but always take more time off when the week is a bit hectic for me as, for right now, I stream as primarily a hobby. But the volume of my streams comes from me genuinely loving to do it!

Nessa: Currently I only work part time to focus more on content creation. I’ve grown my stream large enough that I make part time income from it so that combined with my part time job at my local game store it makes me just enough income for my monthly expenses. My dream is to be a full time content creator and I’m actively working towards that goal. Most of my time goes towards content creation but I do try to make time for my family on weekends!

Zab: Very poorly, but I try. I have a full time 9-5 job outside of streaming, as a paralegal. I try to stream anywhere between 20-30 hours a week, making free-time basically non-existent if I want sleep (which I do want). I take mental stream breaks as I need them, but basically spend that time vegetating from the real world. Luckily I’m the kind of person who prefers to constantly be busy, so my lack of a social life hasn’t been much of a sacrifice. Twitch chat counts as socializing, right? It also helps that I live with my fiance, who helps with a lot of the day-to-day stuff, and keeps me sane. I also have two good bois (dogs), Aerys (wolf dog) and Smee (pembroke welsh corgi), who demand pats, snuggles and time away from screens. They definitely try to help me maintain balance.

The most important thing I take away from all of you is even though your schedules are all different, you seem to maintain your streaming life by taking time off regularly and as needed for extra. I hope readers wanting to find this balance also take care to remember to enjoy your time away, whether with family, friends, pets or simply relaxing.

Enough of the hard how-tos, share with us your favorite streaming cosplay moment!

Nessa: The first year of streaming I did a stream where I cosplayed Liliana and tried to be fully in character and played a zombie deck. It was really fun trying to act like a character that is nothing like me.

Zab: Recently I decided to cosplay as Harley Quinn and stream MTGA playing Rakdos decks. This was technically the second time I had done this; but this time, I was going to get into cosplay on stream. I never really streamed without makeup, and I’m not really overly self-conscious about not wearing makeup, but I was still wary of being makeupless on the internet and actually showing people my makeup application process. But it went great! I got the makeup on with no judgments from people—just awe really—then hopped into the rest of the costume and became Harley Quinn. People really seemed to enjoy the cleverness and execution of the mashup, which isn’t really something I’d be able to achieve to the same degree at a regular comic convention.

Jana: I don’t really do too many cosplay streams, since my channel focuses on competitive Magic and I like to be as comfortable as possible while streaming. However, both my MTG cosplays I’ve done so far, Elspeth and Liliana, have been really well received in the community. I get excited and motivated hearing such positive feedback. The MTG community is awesome when it comes to supporting each other’s content, which is amazing!

Speaking of supporting each other, unknowingly when I had connected each of you separately to feature you in this article Zab and Jana collaborated together on cosplay stream!

How did your collaboration come about?

Jana: Zab posted on her Twitter asking her fans which streamer she should have a best of five collab on, then I hopped on the opportunity!

How did it go?

Zab: It went really well and was a lot of fun! I love doing collabs with other streamers, especially if we can both cosplay and make it more fun for the viewers. We were pretty evenly matched throughout the challenge, which made it an even more fun event for everyone.

Thank you Zab, Nessa, and Jana for joining me to talk about how cosplaying and streaming have formed a new alliance allowing a creative form of content to be viewed. I am amazed how each of your paths have brought you to a similar streaming point, and congruent you are already working together. I am excited to see what streaming cosplay moments you share with us in the future, and hope to see some new faces try it too—after all cosplay is for everyone and can be done in so many ways.

Cosplay Tournament Announcement

Want to see our featured players stream in cosplay again? Tune in to these six channels for a special Cosplay Tournament on

Saturday, August 22nd at 8PM EST/5PM PST

Featuring: @janaamari, @zabracus, @nessameowmeow, @airbubblescosplay, @ladylavinias and myself, @zbexx.

Join me next time for another article about Cosplay in the Multiverse. We have so much more to dive into for making cosplay, wearing cosplay make-up and wigs, and more interviews featuring Magic: the Gathering cosplayers. Whether it’s in person or online it’s sure to be a fabulous show.

Zenaide “ZBexx” Beckham is an Oregon-based cosplayer, gamer, and MTG judge. Her favorite format is Legacy, because just like performing in dance or cosplay she gets to Show and Tell.

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