Designing by Archetype – part 3 – Role Play

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The Archetypes

2. Role Play

Formal definition: To assume a role in an alternative form (living or inanimate) with the objective of understanding aspects of action and interaction to learn how to perform that role or gain a better understanding of the person typically serving within that role

One of the key points of #unique #value is being able to stand in place of the other. Examples cited include:


  • Role
  • Gender
  • Race


This can be done as oneself as either 3rd person e.g. voyuer or 1st person e.g. directly encountering the interaction.

A key aspect of the Role Play Archetype is that of the creation of the scenario that enables the roles to be adopted and interchanged.

Some of the benefits cited include:

1. ‘removes some of the traditional obstacles and barriers of conducting face-to-face role plays’.

2.’the learner can get closer to the role’

3. ‘can dress the avatar in the right clothes’

4. can be in the ‘right environment’

5. can be believable and ‘literally place the learner into the role’

6. Can be open-ended, as opposed to pre-programmed & limited by the branching complexities of programming.

The majority of the benefits offer #unique #value and also support/encourage #SoD

The potential to contribute the #Visceral engagement potential of Role Play is also evident (the participants ‘even became nervous and anxious’.
This leads to even great ‘understanding’ through ‘pressures’ and ‘nuances’.

Recommendations for the Role Play Archetype

  • ‘minimal script’
  • ‘ role play with a more experienced peer or facilitator’
  • ‘few guidelines and specific objectives’
  • Include a debrief.

Disadvantages of the Role Play Archetype

  • Learner & instructor need to be in the virtual world at the same time
  • No ability to be able to read facial expressions and subtle body language
  • The technology supporting Virtual worlds is not yet complex enough to be able to convey nuance.

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