Hi, I'm Yennefer Of Vengerberg, My Life Is Really Weird

So I’m halfway across the planet in a crowded hall, astride a unicorn with a young woman touching my face and repeating, “You look just like her!” Admittedly, I didn’t see this coming.

I’m a cosplayer, and I work for CD Projekt RED as the official Yennefer of Vengerberg for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. It’s an experience that's been oftentimes thrilling, occasionally challenging and consistently surreal.

I’ve been cosplaying in a professional capacity for several years now and as a hobbyist for years before that. As a result, I manage a sizeable online community built largely upon my cosplay efforts, though in no small part upon my love of pizza. Now, it is a typical experience for cosplayers to become very closely associated with characters they portray. That might be because they’re an excellent likeness, or can pull off a flawless impression, or maybe they’re just incredibly passionate about that character. This is something I’ve definitely experienced before with characters like Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite or Velma from Scooby Doo. People who are aware of your cosplay of that character start to immediately associate you and everything you do with the source material – even when you sometimes don’t want them to.

This is an experience that can be hard for people who don’t cosplay (let’s call you Muggles) to relate to, but I’ll try.

Imagine that one time you told people you’re super into otters. That’s totally understandable! Otters are adorable, and they hold hands when they sleep. There’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t love otters. But imagine now, every time an otter meme, gif, photo or video appears on the internet – and you’d be surprised at the frequency, the internet’s a big place – everyone you know sends it to you. Also, your birthday? Otter mugs. Otter t-shirts. Otter books. You’re not complaining, because you love otters, but you also have an identity independent of Otters and you have to work harder than you should to establish that in the minds of your loved ones.

So, having explained that thoroughly, you’ll understand the impact when I say that Yennefer and I have developed a whole new level of cosplayer-character symbiosis, and I’m not even mad. I guess there are worse things to be associated with than a passionate sex scene on a unicorn, and it sure does lead to some interesting conversations.

Photo by Martin Wong

Although I didn’t know it at the time, my relationship with Yen started in 2014 when I was emphatically posting to my social media about my cosplay plans from The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings. I quickly received a very polite and informal email from a community manager at CD Projekt RED asking if I might want to be involved with promoting the new title upon release. I responded with the cool, casual interest of someone who was not at all running laps of the house singing about slaying monsters. My working relationship with the studio quickly escalated from a casual email to a community consultancy gig working on the Witcher Cosplay Contest. This search for the best Witcher cosplayers in the world saw a multitude of entries that were so good it almost makes you inexplicably angry, like when a puppy is so cute you just want to squish it. As part of this, I was asked if I’d be interested in cosplaying as Yennefer of Vengerberg.

It was early days when I first made my Yennefer costume from heavily NDA bound concept art that made me feel like I was in possession of the One Ring. I kept it secret and safe until CD Projekt RED finally revealed Yennefer in a trailer and posted my images. Since then, I’ve portrayed Yennefer at events all over the world – the highlights being megabeasts of shows like Gamescom and PAX Prime. I’ve experienced the overwhelming love and passion of building a new cosplay community surrounding the Witcher 3. I’ve received countless awkward texts about watching Conan O’Brien watch “me” have sex on a unicorn. I’ve experienced the absolute rush of the title finally being released and finally meeting Yennefer in-game. It’s the little things about how she looks – we have freckles in the same place! – that make this the ultimate fan, and ultimate cosplayer, experience.

It’s been an incredible ride (no unicorn pun intended) and it’s apparent that Yennefer and I share more than just a face. Having read one of the Andrzej Sapkowski novels the Witcher games are based on - The Last Wish – during my time working for the studio, I had become quite well acquainted with Yennefer’s personality and history. After the game was released seemingly everyone I knew started to regale me of their interactions with Yen and their opinion of her. It was only then that I truly realised how personally invested in her character I’d become and how protective I could be of a fictional being. Let’s just say that I may have found myself firmly committed to my stance in many a heated Team Triss Vs Team Yennefer debate and you really don’t want to come up against me on this one.

At the end of the day, I couldn’t be happier that my friends and followers, and the many Witcher fans I’ve had the privilege to engage with associate me with a character with wit, strength, vulnerability and complexity. I wouldn’t trade my time as Yennefer for all the otter mugs in the world.

You can follow Eve here on Facebook or Twitter.


    Looks nothing like her...

      Because she's a real person. Also, yeah she does, like - by convention and definition she does.

        I was being a bit flippant, but no, there are a lot of differences which for me add up to what I said. I take a random example pic http://s29.postimg.org/dw8uu12gn/witcher3_2015_06_01_16_27_41_479.png
        The face is different in almost every respect: mouth shape, cheekbone position, eye shape, eye position, jaw shape... etc.

        For me, she looks like someone cosplaying Yennefer, in the same way as Jessica Nigri looks like she's cosplaying Juliet Starling http://stuffpoint.com/cosplay/image/351800/jessica-nigri-cosplay-juliet-starling-lollipop-chainsaw-2-picture/ Great cosplay though!

        Last edited 15/09/15 12:48 pm

          yen has a face similar to kate beckensail i think

    I responded with the cool, casual interest of someone who was not at all running laps of the house singing about slaying monsters.
    Textbook normalperson, right here.

    Damn I wish I had Eve's kinda gig. Very jelly. (And not doing anything about trying to emulate.)

    (Edit: Also, Team Yen 4 Lyfe. As I've said time and time again: OTP right there. FIGHT ME, HIGHPERFORMANCE.)

    Last edited 15/09/15 12:52 pm

      I'll fight you. Yen is the biggest tsundere I've ever seen: treating Geralt worse than a dog but then getting all coquettish about 'oooooo, do you really love me???' Makes me gag on my own vomit! Obviously, Triss is the preferable and realistic love interest.

      Last edited 15/09/15 12:59 pm

        *tears open his shirt* BRING IT.

        Triss didn't supply Geralt's magical roofie, but she sure as hell took advantage of it! And had the nerve to get snippy about it when he called her on it!

        Yen is at least SINCERE, and her brusque attitude is refreshing compared to the overly-polite walk-on-eggshells surface-level sweetness of the red-haired (I'll give her that point).

        Yen has only ever acted in the interests of her beloved family - Ciri and Geralt. Her initial crankiness is absolutely understandable given that her man had been swearing love to another woman who she previously considered to be her best friend. And you see that soften and fade away once it becomes clear that Ciri is in charge of her own destiny and safe in her own hands...
        waitwait, I'm reasoning too much, BACK TO THE HYPERBOLE!

        As I've said before: Too cloyingly sweet and polite - a life with Triss is a life of holding in your farts and using cutesy nicknames. YEN FOREVER!

          Ha ha! Shirtless fighting is a lifestyle I could get used to :-)

          Geralt has never been Yen's property, even though she treats him as such, so him making his own (correct) choice to ditch her and go with Triss is none of her damn business. Sure she only acted in the interests of Ciri (and also herself, doing a deal with the Emperor) but isn't Triss the typical 'big sis' type to Ciri. She came and helped defend her in the battle at *spoiler* right? Long story short, Yen is an egotistical drama queen while Triss is real love yo!

          Also, re your comment below, dinner and movie would be awesome, or we could just make life-size Triss and Yen sex dolls and make them fight each other in public.

        I'm sure that you haven't read books about Geralt, because you will not write here these things.

          That's right. I'm gleefully ignorant of the books :-) I'm sure they'd change my perspective to a greater or lesser degree.

      I'm not gonna argue, I ain't even mad. You have an opinion and I respec-....



        Or grabbing dinner/drinks, maybe a movie, whatever I'm easy.

          As an extention of this, I think Kotaku should have drinks at pax... just sayin

            It's totally a thing that already happens. @scree just finished setting up something more organized, but I have no doubt peeps will be up for random drinks after various con days.

              Yeah each year I try to do at least one post con drink session. first year it was Riot, second it was Star Citizen and they are always good.

              And Techie.
              I still haven't finished really. Numbers are down and I dunno if people want catering.

            Yup, there is a thing happening called pax meat. It gets organised in Talk amongst yourselves.

              Kk will have to check it out

                To make life easier
                But we're a really nice bunch in TAY. Everyone should come to TAY!

    Arguing about OTP aside, this is a good article. I'd like to see more stories of 'official cosplayers'. If there even are any... there should be more official cosplayers.

      Hayley Williams who also writes for Kotaku is a cosplayer and a bloody good one at that. She had an article a few days ago http://www.kotaku.com.au/2015/09/how-to-get-into-cosplay/

        Yeah, I liked that one, too. Wasn't AS big a fan of her first one but I was unfairly influenced by a knee-jerk reaction to the title.

      Australia actually has cosplay champions. They're super nice people too. They did a panel on cosplay last year at Pax, I don't know if you went to it. It was amazing.

    Eve is an amazing cosplayer, admittedly I only started following her when I saw her Elizabeth cosplay which was spectacular but some of the work she has done since is epic. I recommend everyone starts following her on Facebook or Twitter. Hope we get to see/hear Eve in more games to come.

    Cool cosplay and all but in my opinion she doesn't really have Yen's face, no defined check bones, sharp eyes or "bitch look", she seems to have more of a cute face then the "I'll melt your balls off if you cross me", look.

    Sorry but, this is not my woman.

    I responded with the cool, casual interest of someone who was not at all running laps of the house singing about slaying monster
    Best thing I've read all week (excluding the comments above)

      Everything above looks mostly like a bit of banter more than anything else.

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