Introduction of Role play and Simulation

22nd September 2022 1 By indiafreenotes

Roleplay simulation is an experiential learning method in which either amateur or professional roleplayers (also called interactors) improvise with learners as part of a simulated scenario. Roleplay is designed primarily to build first-person experience in a safe and supportive environment. Roleplay is widely acknowledged as a powerful technique across multiple avenues of training and education.


Howard Barrows invented the model for medical patient role-playing in 1963 at University of Southern California. This program allowed doctors practice taking medical histories and conducting physical examinations by participating in a one-on-one scenario with a role-player. The role-players (called Standardized Patients or SP) were also trained on providing performance evaluations after the fiction of the scenario was complete. Barrows continued to evolve this model, eventually bringing it to other physicians in the 1970s, and into the academic world in the 1980s. Today, many hospitals and medical universities have their own standardized patient programs that employ part-time role-players trained to specific standards of interaction. The Association of Standardized Patient Educators has members from six different continents.

An industry of professional skills training emerged in the late 1990s, primarily in the United Kingdom. Companies began hiring acting professionals to create situational dramas to be overcome by learners as part of an experiential learning methodology. Today, there are more than twenty companies in the UK that specialize in providing role-players for workplace simulations.

Professional military role-players have been employed by the US Military since 2001, primarily as a response to the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. Preparation requirements for the resulting War in Afghanistan created a need for cultural role-players skilled in languages and customs of current theaters of war to populate simulated villages and urban environments.

Law Enforcement Training

Role-players are often hired by law enforcement agencies to portray criminals or victims of crimes in scenarios that simulate typical law enforcement situations. These can range from a response to a domestic violence call to an “active shooter” scenario. Role-players are advantageous over video-based police simulations in that they can escalate or de-escalate a confrontational situation in response to the words, body language, and tone of voice of the trainee. This becomes key in effective use-of-force training.

Law enforcement scenarios use role-players for scenarios such as interrogation, hostage negotiation, and witness interviews. Recently, law enforcement agencies have begun to introduce the identification of human trafficking victims into their role-player curriculum.

Business Leadership Training

Role-players are used by businesses to equip their leadership with experience in handling interpersonal conflict, negotiations, interviews, performance reviews, customer service, workplace safety, and ethical dilemmas. A role-player may also simulate difficult and sensitive conversations such as layoffs, or reports of sexual harassment. This gives leaders a chance to make mistakes in a safe environment, rather than learn from a mistake in the real world, which could lead to costly litigation.

Mediation and Facilitation Training

Role-playing is used to equip future practitioners with experience in using diverse skills, structures, and methods to handle various mediation and facilitation scenarios. These roleplays usually have student’s roleplaying both the mediation-facilitation and client-sides of the interactions; however, more intense or complicated scenarios can be explored with more experienced or professional role-players. The interactions are usually scaffold; with various key features of the participants and situation defined, but much of the roleplay is improvised. The practice of roleplay in this context promotes several important factors, beyond basic skill-building. It fosters the capacity for multiperspectival thinking. It helps mediators and facilitators cultivate empathy and compassion for their clients, this cultivation can be critical for achieving better outcomes.


Role-play also has applications in forecasting. One forecasting method is to simulate the conditions being studied. Some experts in forecasting have found that role-thinking for produces less accurate forecasts than when groups act as protagonists in their interactions with one another.

Learning advantages

The use of skilled role-players in a simulation has several benefits over using unskilled confederates:

  • When untrained fellow learners are asked to serve as role-players in a simulation, the resulting learning experience tends to be ineffective due to embarrassment, intimidation, or unrealistic performances.
  • Skilled role-players also help ensure the conditions for an effective simulation are intact. These conditions include maintaining a safe environment, and dynamically adjusting difficulty, complexity, and intensity to the capabilities and experience level of the learner.
  • Since role-players improvise each interaction, predictability is taken out of the simulation. Predictable scenarios limit the development of decision-making skills.
  • Role-player providers can typically offer broader coverage of demographic representation than is possible by using in-house staff to portray characters.


Role-players can be expensive to organizations with limited training resources. Role-player fees are typically contingent upon skill and level of specialized knowledge, and can range from minimum wage to more than US$100 per hour.

Certain types of training that require objectively quantifiable measures of success can be incompatible with the variability of using a human-in-the-loop.