5 Questions with René Koiter
I had the pleasure of interviewing René Koiter, web designer for Blizzard Entertainment and Sons of the Storm. Buuuut he might be better known nowadays for his Khal Drogo Halloween costume he submitted at the Blizzard Costume Contest last October 2013.
G33KPRON: Why did you choose Khal Drogo to Cosplay
René Koiter: Blizzard Entertainment, the company I work for, has these yearly Halloween competitions where the most creative employees show off their costuming and stage skills for the chance to procure prizes and glory. I was always impressed by some of the portrayals in the previous years so I thought it would be fun to participate myself. Almost a year before the event, it struck me to go as Khal Drogo as I believed to have very similar physical characteristics. Also, Game of Thrones as a piece of fiction is quite in line with the fantastical worlds we create in our games. A lot of the employees are well-known with the material so I was positive my act was going to be appreciated by the Blizzard cohorts.
GP: Is this your first Cosplay? If not, what ones have you done in the past and which is your favourite so far?
René: My first cosplay was actually the character Jim Raynor, one of the protagonists from our sci-fi strategy game StarCraft. Picture Han Solo but with some bulk, a beard, cigars, whiskey on the side and bigger guns. Labeled as one of the few good guys in that universe, he is thrown into an intergalactic conflict between the humans of the sector, called the Terrans, an advanced alien race known as the Protoss and the terrifying menace of the Zerg Swarm.
I cosplayed this guy at BlizzCon, our almost annual convention that takes place in Anaheim, California. A whole army of talented cosplayers gather there to show their creations for all the attendees to see. I wanted the fans to geek out in front of a real-life Raynor, so I pieced a costume together in the 6 months leading up to the show. Khal Drogo was my second cosplay. Both have something special, so it’s hard to pick a favorite. From a hoity-toity, artsy-fartsy point of view, I’d go with Drogo as a true artiste never looks back at his older work
GP: Was it a long process making the Drogo Cosplay? Did you run into any snags making a particular part of the Drogo costume?
René: Drogo was quite the herculean effort. What I like to say is that Khal Drogo is such a beast of a character that one needs a team to recreate his look. So, a crew was recruited. Personally, I got into a physically comparable state, such as growing out the hair for the extensions, lifting weights like a mad man and then mimicking his Dothraki speech. The attire itself was produced by the talented costume designer, Nora Holley. She had worked in the film industry and had the ability to legitimately handle the fabric, fur and leather that would do justice to a Horse Lord.
For hair and makeup, I conscripted Celeste Aviva Elson and a Scotsman known as TrippedWire in the online community. Both are fantastic at what they do as is evident from the photos; they enhanced my natural features to look like the great Khal. Finally, I had two co-workers of mine help me out in bringing the ensemble together. One sculpted and molded the iconic golden medallion belt and the other served as the ill-fated translator during the performance. Looking back, I have never seen such an epic collaboration for Blizzard Halloween before. The sun and stars aligned, so to speak.
GP: After the Halloween costume contest at Blizzard, your performance video went viral. How did it feel to get all of that attention?
René: I hail from the Netherlands. There, Halloween isn’t celebrated as much and that goes for the rest of mainland Europe as well. For me the whole gig was to embrace something culturally and specifically American. I wanted to entertain my colleagues for a day and embrace my inner geek. In turn, it went viral and projected an amazing image of our company culture to the outside world. I am very proud of that.
The sudden spotlight, however, was an interesting addition which I was not expecting. There have even been quite a few marriage proposals thrown at me! It’s flattering of course, but sometimes it makes me think that people are getting caught up by the fantasy. Me, dressed up as Drogo is somewhat an illusion or abstraction of myself, you see, as I have a fake tan, straightened hair, braided extensions and enhanced makeup. But I do get a kick of people being entertained though.
GP: With both Diablo and WoW coming out with expansion packs within the year, I’m sure you’ve been busy. What have you been working on (that you’re allowed to talk about) that you’re most excited to see get into the hands of players?
René: Blizzard has always been a busy shop with multiple products in the pipe. But one product in particular that I’ve been really stoked about lately is our digital card game Hearthstone. Super accessible and easy to play, yet quite deep once mastered. It’s going to be free to play, so I encourage everyone to try it out. Such a fun game!
Everyone here at G33KPRON wants to extend a huge thank you to René for taking the time to answer our questions. While we’re not sure how he’s going to top it, we can’t wait to see what he has in store for us next! Check out the gallery below to see René bring Khal Drogo to life, and let us know what you think in the comment section below.
All photography is © Kenneth Pfeifer Photography
Have any suggestions as to who you’d like us to interview next? Let us know below!