EGX 2016 - My Experience as a Cosplay Ambassador

October 05, 2016 Kate Sykes 4 Comments

Last year, Meagan Marie (Senior Community Manager at Crystal Dynamics) introduced the Official Tomb Raider Cosplay Ambassador Program. It allowed cosplayers from all over the world to represent Lara Croft in their country to promote the franchise in the stead of the official models that came before the reboot, therefore bringing the studio even closer to the fans.
A couple of months ago, an application survey was released for anyone (no matter their gender or years cosplaying) to put their name down for any future events in their country. To actually BE Lara was something I'd been dreaming about since I was 8 years old, crawling behind the sofa, pretending I was on a stealth mission, and imagining I could run, jump and climb around all these amazing places in the games.

I decided to apply though I saw no chance of being chosen....then a few weeks ago, I received an email from Meagan that made me cry of happiness for five to ten minutes. She invited me to be an ambassador for EGX! I was going be Lara Croft...officially! After I composed myself, I wrote a soppy reply with an obvious YES!

As it's the 20th anniversary this year, there have been two ambassadors at each event the studio was present at, one to represent the first incarnation of Lara (Classic) and the other to represent the newest incarnation (Rise of the Tomb Raider). I was asked to do Rise and Laura Eliza Cosplay, Classic, though we decided amongst ourselves that we would swap costumes on the last day.

Fast forward to the Thursday of EGX. We weren't required to work until the Friday so we traveled down to Birmingham that day. My Dad and I set off on our two and a half hour road trip after he finished work, inspiring soundtracks blaring out of the speakers. We arrived about 10pm and met up with Laura. After a mix-up with mine and my Dad's room by the hotel, we finally got in and chatted with Laura late into the night, having to get up at 7am the next morning...


The excitement was drowning the exhaustion with every passing minute. Laura and I had known each other online for years and we met in person for the first time at EGX last year so it was lovely to be able to share the experience with her!
We went down to breakfast half in costume then it was back up to the rooms to get ready. Laura helped do my make-up, blood and all.
Lara helps Lara put on her make-up.
Then it was a walk through the airport (weapons well hidden) and a short tram ride to the NEC. The worried looks I got from people were hilarious!

Laras on the tram.
After lifts, lifts and more lifts (elevators), we got to the show floor and had a meeting with the team at the Square Enix booth where everyone was introduced. All lovely and passionate people who were great to work with.
The team all had water bottles with their names on. There was already a David so my Dad was given "The Dad Bottle"...

I think Laura won though with hers saying "Lara".
Then it was time to start posing!

This year, a demo of the new co-op Endurance Mode was being shown. We had to hand out Lara mini figures to the first 75 people to queue up and other goodies to the following fans.

We also made some new friends!

There were three men and two Chocobo suits and they each took turns coming out periodically.
They were all experieced creature puppet actors and it was incredible to watch!

We had an hour and a half break for lunch and we managed to have a walk round the show floor before meeting back at the Square Enix booth at 2pm. That's when it got the busiest. We had three or four people taking our photo at once on one occasion! We were also filmed for cosplay videos by TheMajikelOne and Let's Play Games. The queue for the demo became about an hour long so Laura walked up and down talking to the fans.

After a successful first day, we went to eat at a Frankie & Benny's at the airport.


Rise of the Laras!
Meagan Marie (Senior Community Manager at Crystal Dynamics) arrived early in the morning and we met downstairs for breakfast before we got ready.

Having been disheartened by seeing very few cosplayers on Friday, they came in big numbers on Saturday, many diverse and beautiful costumes! Then came the Laras! We had up to four posing for photos with us, one of which was dressed from head to toe in items from Laura's Etsy shop Earthcraft Emporium! (also where my grey henley is from)
They all got special goodies for dressing up.

Meagan arrived after doing some work at the hotel and presented us with her copy of the soon to be released "20 Years of  Tomb Raider" book written by her. She let me have a look at my feature and to my surprise, I had a whole page! She suggested I take a picture with it and I'm afraid there was no chance of me being in character for this one. I was beaming so widely, the top of my head nearly fell off!

After that came the most special part of the day, one of the best parts of the weekend, being part of the Playstation show. We were escorted by Meagan and another member of the team over to the Playstation stage, me already feeling the nerves as adrenaline went higher. There Meagan told us what our jobs were. During the trivia quiz, Laura was to go into the audience with the microphone for people to answer the questions and I was to hand out the prizes in front of the stage.
We met Hollie Bennett who was presenting the Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration feature. Really lovely lady! She told me she read my page in the book and how much she loved reading my letter to Lara. Oh yeah, we also found out a few minutes before that it was going to be live streamed....I think my Dad could actually see my face turnin white. He quickly texted the family to watch it. A little later, Hollie came over to explain how the stream was going to pan out, starting with "Right, my lovely Laras..." We got into position, my Dad sat beside me to help out. The audience started to get bigger. Update from Hollie. 4 minutes to go. Breathe, Kate....breathe. What ever you do, don't drop the prizes live on camera. Spotlight on stage, here we go! After talking about the game, it was time for the quiz. Laura and I were introduced and we waved to everyone. The quiz was great and we had lots of winners. No prizes were dropped. Everything went smoothly. We had a fantastic time!
Screenshot from the stream.
The family watching from home.

Laura and I with Meagan Marie and Hollie Bennett after the show.
We had a lovely lunch with Meagan talking about what was happening for the rest of the year and we had a look through the goodies we were giving out.

Then it was back to the booth for more posing with fans, again the busiest time of day. We had people lining up to take photos with us at one point!

When we finished for the day, we went back to hotel to get cleaned up and change back into our civilian identities before heading out to the community dinner at the airport. It had been pre-booked by Laura in the name "Lara Croft". Can't get any more badass than that! Apparently the restaurant staff we quite confused by this.
When everyone got settled we found out they couldn't to what they needed to for me so we all had to move to Frankie & Benny's. I felt terrible but nobody seemed to mind.
A few people had to cancel so there we nine of us all together. Amazingly, nobody a photo but we all had a great time, talking about all things Tomb Raider and gaming.

Day 3

My debut of Classic Lara!
After two long days, we had a lazy breakfast with Meagan before her flight. She nervously agreed to help my with my make-up while Laura got herself ready. Don't know why...Have you seen how good her make-up is?!

My Dad and I packed up and checked out as he was working Monday morning. We all managed to squeeze in our car with all the stuff. Laura was nearly sitting on Meagan's knee! Meagan hopped out after paying for parking and we hugged and said goodbye, then it was off to the final day of EGX.
We got a bit lost on the way but we arrived ok.
This was the first time I'd worn the whole classic costume. Didn't have time to make the holsters so I used my existing ones with the buckle painted with gold nail vanish. It worked quite well.

After lunch, My Step-Mum, little brother and sister, Mum and Step-Dad all came to see us. I'd missed them the past few days so it was nice to be reunited.

The end of the day came really quickly. I was savouring every second. It had quietened down so Laura and I were just sat chatting.
Laura, her friend Chris and I at the end of the day.
I did not want it to end. 6pm, not a second before, it was time to go. I hugged Liz (head of the Square Enix team for the event) goodbye. Laura tried to take a sad face selfie of us but typical me, I just started laughing. Hugged Laura goodbye, managing not to embarrass myself by crying and with a heavy heart on my part, we were off home.
Last photo with Laura before leaving.

I strongly recommend that anyone, no matter your gender, race or disability, apply for this.
It's an experience like no other I think it's given me a deeper connection to the character.
When I first started cosplaying, I was nervous to share it publicly because I was a wheelchair user and I didn't think I'd do Lara justice and there I was, 9 years later, representing her for the game developers.
If I can do it, anyone can. Like a friend said to me, anything is possible IF you are willing to try.

To learn more about the program and how to apply, visit

Happy International Cerebral Palsy Day!

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  1. You're so inspiring... Thank you for sharing this :)

  2. That's a great story. Very wise to keep guns hidden while moving through the airport, and I can well imagine the looks you got. (Btw, Top Tip: anyone moving imitation firearms around, Cosplayer or LARP'er, DO NOT carry them in a black plastic bin liner, 'cos a prop gun in a bin liner just looks like a real gun in a bin liner.) It's quite a journey from crawling behind the sofa on a stealth mission to representing Lara for the developers at a major event. Well done, and thank you for sharing the experience.