Monday, September 21, 2015

When is it safe to share your passion projects?

This weekend, I baked a cake and slipped a file into it to give to a friend.

I made it myself!
Don't call the police on me; it was all inspired by a role-playing game (RPG) that my family plays with some dear friends of ours once a month.

Thanks to, this is a basic definition for RPG: a game in which participants adopt the roles of imaginary characters in an adventure under the direction of a Game Master. I've talked about this with my husband with an education slant to it years ago at the OLA Superconference. (It was so long ago that the link will take you to a Powerpoint!) I also write a lot about this particular RPG we play on my other blog about Family Gaming. People know about online versions of RPGs like World of Warcraft; we enjoy those as well, but in the game that we play with our friends, we use cards, character sheets and our vivid imaginations. We play superheroes and have epic battles with high-powered villains. In the previous adventure, one of our players ("Thumper") behaved less-than-heroically, injuring Karin, a non-hero NPC (non-player character, someone "portrayed" by the Game Master) and Thumper was arrested for the assault. It was such an exciting and unexpected turn of events that we talked about it frequently through emails and at home among ourselves. It also inspired us to create a few "game artifacts" for this weekend's fun.

A "bon voyage" card for Thumper

Inside, the other player characters wrote to her. Long story behind the autograph.

A get well card for Karin, who is in a coma

The characters wrote to her as well.
I've written about passion projects before, but I want to take a different approach in this post, because last week, a student who was excited about something he made, brought it to school and he was arrested because of it. The story of Ahmed Mohamed is still being unraveled in the news, but regardless of where the truth actually lies, the portion I want to focus is on creative endeavors that can be misunderstood. Remember when students were suspended for making their own copies of the book from the manga Death Note? Were they dangerous indicators of unhinged minds, or creative experiments inspired by comics? If I told people (outside this blog, where I have the space to explain and make references) that I baked a cake with a file in it for a pretend prisoner, what would the reaction be? Would I be considered an obsessed nerd? Cute or odd? When people hear about cosplayers who spend months creating outfits so they can resemble their favourite characters from film or books or games, are they admired or feared? My response is to use caution before letting your "geek flag fly", because you never know when your really neat pet project will be seen as something less innocent and more sinister. 

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