CREATIVE COSTUME CONTESTS FOR DUMMIES
Before beginning, I would like to say the first rule of thumb in hosting a unique costume contest is that it is not advised to follow any guides word by word, especially this one. Take what you learn from guides and mold it into your very own unique costume contest. If you follow a guide word by word, you'll just be reiterating a costume contest style that already exists, or an opinion of someone else (like me) who has written this guide here. Don't be afraid to experiment, take risks, and have fun in the process! If you're having fun, surely the contestants will be as well.
If you're still interested in hosting very unique, very brilliant costume contests in Champions Online, it first starts with a little creativity.
I. TYPES OF COSTUME CONTESTS I HAVE HOSTED
1. Basic Costume Contests
2. Category Costume Contests
3. Costume Contests involving Switching
4. Costume Contests involving Audience Judging
5. Costume Contests involving Role Play or Acting
6. Costume Contests involving Duos, Trios, Super Groups, Teams
7. Themed Costume Contests
8. Fashion Shows
9. Costume Contests involving PVP or "Unexpected" Villain Appearances
10. Costume Contest Sagas (Multiple Parts)
11. Costume Contests with Giveaways, Door Prizes
12. Biography Contests
13. Costume Contests involving Online Dice Rolls for Prize Amounts
14. Any Above Costume Contests with Trivia
15. Any Above Costume Contests with Honorable Mention Grab Bag
16. Costume Contests with Mystery Categories
17. Hybrid or Mixed Costume Contests
18. Winner Takes All Costume Contests
19. Crazy/Insane Experimental Costume Contests
II. OTHER COSTUME CONTESTS I HAVE SEEN
1. B-Movie Costume Contests
2. Costume Contests with Challenge Categories
3. Costume Contests with Guest Judges and Appearances
4. Weekly Costume Contests
5. Controversial Costume Contests
There are a lot of costume contests "types" already out there and clearly more than I have listed here.
III. SO, WHAT WILL YOU BE HOSTING?
This is the hardest part of the costume contest design process: figuring out what to host. For beginners, it is suggested that whoever is hosting a costume contest watches a few distinct ones, participates in a few more distinct ones, and then tries out some of the already-in-place methods for hosting a costume contest before experimenting. Always attending the same type of contest may narrow your perspective. It is crucial to attend multiple types of costume contests hosted by multiple people. When doing so, notice the various ideas, concepts, and elements that make up their contests. Find elements you're interested in or think that work well. Yet, don't be afraid to ask yourself: "If I was hosting this, how would I do it differently?" That, my friend, is the real beginning to hosting a unique costume contest.
IV. SETTING UP YOUR COSTUME CONTEST
Besides the costume contest itself, this is the longest part of the creation process. Here, you will need to do a few important things to satisfy the needs of potential contestants.
Step 1: Contestants will typically expect to receive a list of rules or parameters to abide by while going about the costume contest. Such parameters make things run smoothly. Here are some questions you will need to answer. This will help you figure out what type of costume contest you are going to be hosting. (See "Part I" for a list of costume contest types.)
1. Will it be okay for contestants to switch costumes during the costume contest? If so, when?
2. Is it alright for contestants to switch characters for the costume contest? If so, when?
3. How tolerant are you towards those who troll?
4. What are grounds for disqualification?
5. Will you be using <Zone> chat primarily to interact with the audience and contestants? If so, will it be okay for contestants to use <Zone> chat as well? What channels are permitted for contestant use? Are there any special channels for you and possibly your judges?
6. Will you allow contestants to move around or will they be bound to a particular spot? Is there a seating chart or will you let contestants pick their own spot? Is there a particular place where contestants will need to line up?
7. Will you allow devices, powers, auras, stage props, travel powers, sidekicks, action figures, or any other modifications during the costume contest? Are there any specific "things" (see previous sentence) that are not allowed?
8. Will you allow PvP?
A list of rules will typically look like this:
Costume Switching, Not Allowed
Character Switching, Not Allowed
Powers, Not Allowed
Devices, Not Allowed
Auras, Not Allowed
Sidekicks, Not Allowed
Talking on Zone Chat, Not Allowed
Action Figures, Not Allowed
Sarcastic Humor, Allowed
Trolling, DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!!!
Step 2: Contestants will usually expect to know what type of costume contest to prepare for, if there are any categories or a theme for them to base costume concepts around, and other little details about the costume contest. Here are a few things to consider, based upon my observations, related to creating the concept behind a potential costume contest.
Observation #1: The more specific the categories, the less amount of people who attend. One good rule of thumb is to be a little 'loosey goosey' when creating categories. Being too broad, however, might create confusion and you will be receiving lots of "Is this okay?" private messages prior to your contest.
- Overly Specific: Winged Armored Knight Using Gold And Grey Shades
- Too Broad: Fantasy (You might see more than just Knights!)
- Better: Winged Knight
Basic Costume Contest, 15 to 60 Minutes
Category Costume Contest, 40 to 120 minutes (depending on category amount)
Costume Contests Involving Audience Judging 60 to 90 minutes
Costume Contest Sagas, THEY NEVER END!!!
Note that the duration of a costume contest can range tremendously based upon a number of factors. For example, lag can cause a host to be typing their messages very slowly. There have even been instances where the Champions Online server has crashed during costume contests and rescheduling had to occur. The best thing to do in these scenarios is to plan ahead for failure. Give yourself extra amounts of time to host and prepare for a costume contest.
Observation #3: Picking a place to host your contest may be very easy or very difficult. The Millennium City Powerhouse is a location where the majority of all costume contests are held. It's easy to get to. However, if you're going with a themed costume contest, it might be neat to mix things up a bit and pick a place related to the contest. For example, I hosted a "Winner Takes All" Cowboy and Cowgirl costume contest inside Belle's Saloon in the desert. It was a blast!
Be advised that some places may severely limit the amount of people who can potentially enter the costume contest. For example, if choosing a location in the Desert, players will have to be level 15 or greater before they can be a part of your contest. Some potential contestants may feel left out if they cannot physically attend due to your choice of location. But don't let that discourage you from picking a nice location for your costume contests.
Places I have hosted Costume Contests:
Millennium City Powerhouse Theatre
The Oriental Garden
Renaissance Center Circle
Champions Building Stairs
Vibora Bay Powerhouse
S.S. Bayou Queen
A good spot for hosting a costume contest has a few qualities: There is very little environmental clutter, good/consistent lighting, a place where contestants can line up, room for contestants, and space for judging to take place. Cramming fifty people into the office at City Hall is just absurd. However, the lobby of City Hall is a nice area where contestants could form a circle around the perimeter. Having zone chat to yourself is a plus as well. A good location helps to make your costume contest memorable.
Step 3: Contestants need to know that you're hosting a costume contest!
Creating an Advertisement Message:
Your costume contest advertisement should have five critical parts.
- Type of Costume Contest
- Date and Time of the Costume Contest (Server Time)
- Place Where the Costume Contest will be hosted
- Any Categories
- Special Rules
Tonight at 4:00pm server time, Katrina's hosting a Costume Contest at the Millennium City Powerhouse Theatre! Categories: Missing Something? ::: Country Folk ::: WTF? ::: Favorite.
However, there are probably better and more enticing ways to advertise your contest as long as they answer: Who, What, When, Where, How, Why. What you want to do is grab the interest of potential contestants and lure them to coming to your costume contest. You do this by designing creative and original categories, picking cool places, having awesome prizes, and advertising.
My favorite places to advertise for an upcoming costume contest are:
- Contest-Central Chat Channel
- Millennium City Zone Chat
- Millennium City Powerhouse Main Lobby
- Club Caprice
Step 4: Now that you have your costume contest laid out before you, it is time to decide what prizes you would like to give.
Basic costume contests can be very simple when it comes to handing out prizes. 15G to 25G per category is typically the amount offered and perhaps 30G to 50G for the favorite. Many hosts also include special items, Cosmic Keys of Power, or exchangeable costume unlocks as prizes as well.
In the costume contest mentioned above, prizes would look something like this:
Missing Something, 15G
Country Folk, 15G
The total cost for this event is 95G. In the past, I've hosted an advanced costume contest at the S.S. Bayou Queen in Vibora Bay. Categories had "special powers" related to which sin they represented. Dice rolls determined the contestant's winning amount. I gave away 2000G that day. The nice thing to note is that many contestants do not care about the prizes. They like to enter the contest for the fun of it, to check out other costumes, and to show off their costume. But this isn't every one. Rewarding your contestants for their amazing costumes is an important aspect of hosting a contest. This leads us to the next section.
V. PICKING DAT PRIZE
Prizes, Prizes, Prizes. They can be fun, silly, random, crazy, serious-whatever you'd like them to be! I like to pick prizes that relate thematically to my themed costume contests. Like when I hosted at Belle's Saloon, one of the prizes was the Sheriff Star Emblem costume thing. It related to the "wild west" ambiance of Snake Gulch, the location of the contest.
There are plenty of items that make great prizes. The choice is really yours for what to give out, but choosing the right prizes is one element that helps make the event worthwhile. If you're thinking about spicing up your costume contest with a little more than "G" prizes, check the auction-house for items, Z-Store, and maybe farm a few bosses for rare and valuable objects.
I've seen everything from extremely rare, discontinued costume pieces to vehicles being given out at costume contests. Cosmic Keys of Power also make for popular prizes, because people who have a silver account can only hold up to 250G. Other contestants may not have the inventory space. So if you're planning on "pimping" your costume contest with prizes worth major bling, it is important to take into consideration the variety and diversity of contestants who will have and will not have inventory space and a maximum G amounts.
When I host a costume contest, nine out of ten times I have what I call an Honorable Mention Grab Bag, where I give everyone who attended the costume contest a chance at something decent. I have one of those "Enormous Bags," which holds up to 22 items, stocked with 22 items worth somewhere between .5G and 2G in value, and one item that is greater in value, like 10G or more. (See "Honorable Mention Grab Bag" in Section X for a diagram.)
When I call contestants for their prizes, I usually call in a line. Each item in the bag is arranged in a random order, and the first item on the top left is #1, and the bottom right item is #22. The first person called gets to choose between numbers 1 - 22, the second person chooses between 1 - 21, and so on. I rotate the very last item, if not chosen, into the slot where a previous item had been. Some may complain that giving everyone something makes the category prizes less special, but I like to reward as many people as possible who attend my costume contests with a little something. Usually the stuff in the grab bag are silly items valuable for use on Millennium City Zone Chat!
The best prize arrangements are those that cater to the needs of the contestants. If everyone wins the same exact thing, then the prizes are kind of boring. I tend to prefer diversity of items when coming up with my Honorable Mention Grab Bag. That way, everyone can feel like they received something unique and special.
VI. COSTUME CONTEST ROLES AND DUTIES
You've made an advertisement. You've set aside enough prizes for your contest to burn a giant hole in your wallet. You think you have this contest entirely planned out. Everything seems like it's ready to go...
There's still more to do.
While some may host costume contests on their own, having a group of friends helping you out during your contest can make things incredibly easier or much more difficult. It all depends on how much you and your friends understand their place in the costume contest.
The primary responsibilities of the host(s) are to communicate important and vital messages regarding to costume contest to others; announce any rules, costume contest updates, advertisements, winners; hand out the various prizes to winning contestants; and to keep the contestants entertained during the course of the costume contest. Using an appropriate chat for sharing information is critical for the host to perform this task well. Most of the time, hosts use <Zone> chat to convey their PUBLIC messages and <Team> chat to convey any PRIVATE messages to costume contest staff. Prospective contestants typically contact the host directly via PM or by a chat channel like Contests-Central when they have questions. If you are hosting, be prepared to have just as much of a solid understanding of the categories or theme of the contest as the judges.
Hosts can be funny, serious, shy, outgoing- there's a whole range of personalities at your finger tips to choose from. However, it is extremely important, especially for the host, to be honest, respectful, and somewhat humble to all audience members, the judges, and the contestants. Making mean jokes about costumes, lying to the contestants, being a poor sport, or not abiding by a good code of conduct may demotivate contestants to ever show up at one of your next costume contests ever again. Hosting is a prime example of practice makes perfect.
Host Check List (Before Costume Contest):
- Have I sufficiently advertised the costume contest on various different channels?
- Have I collected all of the prizes necessary for the costume contest?
- Am I standing in the costume contest location 30 minutes prior to the contest?
- Have I created a team for myself and the judges?
- Did I begin the costume contest by welcoming the crowd?
- Have I reiterated any categories or themes for this costume contest?
- Have I explained the rules to sufficient detail?
- Have I introduced the judges for the costume contest?
- Have I announced the judges to begin judging?
- Am I keeping my audience entertained throughout the costume contest?
- Have I collected a list of names for the winners?
- Does each contestant know to go to me for prizes?
- Have I announced the winners and handed them their prizes one-by-one?
- Have I thanked the contestants and crowd for coming to the costume contest?
- Have I concluded the costume contest?
Some costume contests have a second host for playing games and trivia. Trivia is a great way to keep the audience busy while the judges do the dirty work. When the main host allows for trivia, the Trivia Master will ask questions, allow the audience a certain amount of time to answer them, and pick winners based upon their responses.
During the majority of time before a contest begins, a Trivia Master crafts unique, creative, and thought-provoking questions. Because there is an infinite amount of material to ask questions about, many different types of questions, and questions ranging in difficulty levels, this task might not be so easy. A good way to begin is to think about your favorite game show. Are you a Wheel of Fortune Fan? Do you spend your afternoon watching Jeopardy or Deal or No Deal? Draw your inspiration from shows and other costume contests that have mastered the art of "quizzing" their contestants.
One of the things that I like to do when hosting trivia is to find facts or compose questions related to whatever theme or categories I am hosting. With questions, it is important not to ask rude, impolite, offensive, boisterous questions. Factual questions typically provide the best results. While tricking your contestants with that curve-ball question might be fun, it may also potentially lead to chaos. There's a lot to consider when coming up with questions.
Trivia Master Check List (Before Costume Contest):
- Have I obtained a necessary amount of G or the right prizes for rewarding trivia winners?
- Have I compiled a long list of trivia questions?
- Are the questions answerable?
- Have I or someone else announced to go to me for their rewards?
- Am I timing the questions appropriately?
- Am I calling the appropriate winners after each question?
Judges play a critical role in the success of a costume contest. Without judges looking over the costumes of contestants there would be no reason to host a contest at all! Since they play such a critical role, it is important for the Host and Lead Judge to make sure the judges are (a) clear on any expectations or rules, and (b) know what a category means and represents. A good judge is open-minded to various interpretations of the categories and theme of a costume contest. A great judge is not only open-minded, but also knowledgeable in all of the facets of costume design and implementation.
Assistant Judge Check List (Before Costume Contest):
- Do I understand my role and the concepts behind certain categories or themes?
- Have I been assigned any particular categories, a number of winners to choose from, or have been told how the costume contest is going to be judged?
- Have I joined the judges team?
- Do I know who the Lead Judge is?
- Am I paying attention to the host?
- Have I started judging after being announced to judge?
- Am I judging fairly and in a timely manner?
- Am I walking around and checking over the costumes of every contestant?
- Do my picks make sense given the category and theme?
- Have I submitted a finalized list of my 'picks' to the Lead Judge.
The lead judge performs all of the duties of an assistant judge, but reports to the host with a finalized list of winners and awards once all of the 'picks' are in. The primary role of the lead judge is to moderate and make important, quick decisions that could impact the integrity of a costume contest.
Lead Judge Check List (Before Costume Contest):
- Do I know how many total prizes there are?
- Have I met and discussed judging procedures with the other judge staff?
- Have I formed a judging team, where judges will discuss the costumes of contestants?
- Have I assigned judges with their particular categories to judge or the number of 'picks' they have?
- Do the other judges understand their role, what they are doing, and what categories or picks they have?
- Have I double checked with each judge to make sure they understand their role?
- Have I started judging only after being announced?
- Am I judging and assessing costumes fairly?
- Am I walking around and looking over the costumed of each contestant?
- Are the 'picks' chosen different per category?
- Am I compiling a list of winners to mail or private message to the host?
- Am I pressing other judges to send me their individual 'picks?'
- Is the list I'm compiling organized, readable, and details the exact name of the winners?
THE AUDIENCE AND CONTESTANTS
Contestants play a vital role in a costume contest. Without contestants participating in the costume contest, there wouldn't be one! Often at times people will go to a costume contest just to watch the show! These members are Audience Members. It is the responsibility of the staff to treat each audience member and contestant with respect and courtesy. They have come to watch and participate in your show. Provide them with popcorn, candy, and refreshments!
Some audience members (or even contestants) might try to "TROLL" (verb) a costume contest. If this occurs, try to handle the issue inside of a private message rather than <Zone> or <Local> chat. Honestly, if all else fails, ignore the person trolling and continue on with your costume contest. It is best not to "feed" the person trolling by providing it with the attention and reactions it desires. If you let the person trolling ruin your costume contest, they win.
VII. THE SHOW IS ON
The clock is ticking away and now you are ready to begin your costume contest!
Here is an itinerary that may or may not work for you! It displays the amount of time each stage of a typical costume contest may take.
1. Welcome Messages (1 minute)
2. Go Over the Rules (5 minutes)
3. Introduce Judges, Send Judges Out (15 to 45 minutes)*
4. Trivia / Keep Audience Busy (15 to 45 minutes)*
5. Receive Winner List (5 minutes)
6. Announce Winners (10 minutes)
7. Conclude With a Thank You (1 minute)
*Phases 3 and 4 occur simultaneously.
VIII. CONCLUDING YOUR COSTUME CONTEST
If this is your first costume contest, you may have a slight headache. But hooray! It's over. It was awesome! You did a great job! Each contest you host gets better and better. Perhaps you might not performed as well as you would have liked? If that is the case, note what elements worked for you and what elements did not. Try to improve upon the elements that didn't work. Start off easy. Make slow, steady changes. But never lose your ambition to experiment!
After a few contests, if you are still having trouble, there are a few things you can do to seek help. Contests-Central is a great chat channel where many people will be willing to help you improve upon your costume contest if things didn't go 'exquisitely dashingly' as you had desired. One good idea is to rehearse your contest ahead of time by going through each of the stages and motions you plan to implement.
IX. DO AND DO NOT, THERE IS NO TRY
THE COSTUME CONTEST DOS:
1. Praise your contestants. All of them.
2. Have a fun time. Your audience will too.
3. Come across as positive and constructive. You can do it.
4. Always agree with your judges 'picks' DURING the costume contest. Head to the arena afterwards.
5. Give people second, third, and sometimes even fourth chances before disqualifying them.
6. Say a lot of good, non-offensive jokes.
7. If something goes horribly wrong, don't freak out.
THE COSTUME CONTEST DO NOTS:
1. Never make fun of a contestant's costume. It may hurt their feelings.
2. Do not show that you are stressed out or tired.
3. Never use <Zone> chat to "witch hunt" trolls or single them out. They love being hunted.
4. Do not use <Zone> chat to un-jokingly criticize other staff or contestants.
5. Never send a judge out who does not understand the category or theme they are judging.
6. Do not afk or fall asleep during your contest. If you cannot take the reigns, find someone who can.
X. GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS
__a category is a particular, expected genre or theme of a costume; an outline for contestants to follow.
__a contestant is a person participating in the costume contest
__a duo is when two people enter a costume contest together with themed outfits
__a trio is when three people enter a costume contest together with themed outfits
__a team is when multiple people enter a costume contest together with themed outfits
Honorable Mention Grab Bag
__a randomized inventory of small prizes given to contestants who win honorable mentions
__the announcer and spokesperson of a costume contest
__people who judge the costumes of contestants
__the act of viewing the costumes of winners immediately after the costume contest
__contestants that the judges have placed on the winner's list
__the terms and conditions of a costume contest
__when contestants are allowed to switch costumes for multiple categories and themes
__random villains who show up at costume contests to steal the prizes
__a person in charge of providing questions and keeping the audience busy during the costume contest
__the act of causing unnecessary mischief which prevents the costume contest from functioning properly
XI. FINAL WORDS OF ADVICE
If you sat through and read this entire guide, I only have one question to ask.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?! (JK)
Seriously now. Thank you for reading my guide and I hope you find it helpful! I would definitely love to see more and more contests being held overall, especially in the mornings when 'no one is on.' I'm pleased to announce that if you are overwhelmed after reading this guide, costume contests are not the only type of contest out there! Many players have used trivia, hide and seek, biography events, PvP, and so on as grounds for a contest. Use your imagine, run wild, and have fun.
__Miss PrimProper (Photo Volunteer)
__Trax the Hunter (Photo Volunteer)
__The Troll (Photo Volunteer)
__Ms. Metropolis (Photo Volunteer)
__Flare (Inspiring Costume Contests)
__Random Google Searches (Awesome Photos of Costume Contests)
__B-Movie Director (Screenshots of B-Movie Costume Contests)
__Patriot Act Alliances, Patriot Act (Support)