AnM.20: Role-playing


Originally a learning method, role-playing or simulation turned into an important technique of developing and testing how realistic are the scenarios elaborated. It is one of the effective methods to learn and gain experience, helping to analyze how people behave in a certain situation, how to evaluate and predict their reactions.

Role-playing is an exercise that requires participants to perform a task in a fictitious situation simulating real life. It is a means to capture the content, facilitating an active understanding of the information, being useful for conducting future activities. It gives participants the opportunity to see the situation from perspectives other than those they might be taking in reality, to apply new skills and abilities, and to explore alternative ways of addressing the hidden obstacles that may arise in dealing with the problem.
To gain the maximum effect from the role game, proposed situations should be as close to reality as possible. The main benefits of role-playing simulation models are: i) create an artificial social structure (or simulating some known social structure); ii) enforce the social structure; iii) provide plausible scenarios for players to respond, react and enrol to.
Online role-playing simulation or Role Playing Game (RPG) is modeled on the assumption that human interactions are communicative events. Online role-playing adds to face-to-face role-playing in two ways: i) anonymity and ii) asynchronicity. The former enables players to role-play so that external power relationship does not get into the role-playing. The latter nature of online role-playing provides time for players to consider and research alternatives and use "out of role" discussions before making a "move".

There are three stages to a standard role-playing exercise:
i) Setting up. In the set up stage, the training team describes the scenario and assigns roles to the participants. Another option is to put together a single page description of the scenario to be worked out by the role-play participants. Alternatively, it may be useful to write one-paragraph descriptions of the key role players. A description can include the main objectives and concerns of the person in that role.
ii) The Play Stage. During this second stage, the participants act out their roles and the play is carried out.
iii). The Follow Up. It is important for all the participants to discuss what happened during the role-play. They may question individual role-players to ask why they took a particular position, made a certain statement, or undertook an action. The explanation and the resulting discussion are important for the participants to obtain a greater understanding of the social dynamics related to a particular "real life" situation.

Data sources:


Wills, S., Leigh, E. and Ip, A. (2010), The Power of role-based e-learning, Routledge.