Role Play

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What is role play?

Role play is an experimental space for behaving in a structured way outside of what is considered socially normal and proper but normally within the semiotic framework of the society e.g. within the realm of understanding and meaning. With the purposes of highlighting and seeing things from a new perspective without being deemed insane.

How is role play useful?

By using role play, people can step outside of their comfort zones and potentially put themselves in another person’s shoes. This can be extremely useful when coming up with design ideas and concepts, but also in a wide variety of other scenarios. As an example, role play is often used in training for sales and customer service. It enables all of those involved to consider how or what another person may be feeling in different situations. Role play also enables people to step outside of their comfort zone, seeing things from a new perspective, without the fear of being judged.

How to Use Role Play

Depending on what you wish to achieve, there are plenty of different ways you can incorporate role play into a design method. Here is an example for two people:

  • One person is to play the customer or the person who will be using the end product, the other is the person selling the product.
  • The person selling the product must try to convince the buyer of the qualities and benefits.
  • The person buying the product must come up with questions and rebuttals as to why this product may not be for them.
  • The person buying the product must really consider whether this is something they would want or use, and come up with flaws in the seller’s argument.
  • The person selling the product must come up with ideas of how those rebuttals can be turned around (by changing design features of the product and so on).

This very quick role playing scenario can help think from both the buyer’s and the seller’s perspective, enabling you to enhance designs. Due to the fun nature of role play, you may find that the high levels of energy can also bring on new and exciting ideas.

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