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Role-playing refers to the changing of one's behaviour to assume a role, either unconsciously to fill a social role, or consciously to act out an adopted role. While the Oxford English Dictionary defines role-playing as "the changing of one's behaviour to fulfill a social role",[1] the term is used more loosely in four senses:

  • To refer to the playing of roles generally such as in a theater, or educational setting;
  • To refer to taking a role of an existing character or person and acting it out with a partner taking someone elses role, often involving different genres of practice;
  • To refer to a wide range of games including computer role-playing games, play-by-mail games and more;
  • To refer specifically to role-playing games.[2]


Social science

In social science, role-playing is historically a reference to Psychodrama and Sociodrama, and more recently to Drama Therapy, which were originally created as a methodology for studying role theory by the social sciences. The study of role-playing was modelled after theater and includes many counterparts. To roleplay one enacts various motives, attitudes, and postures.[3] The protagonists are the participants who improvise their actions within a situation normally simulated about them. They hold the usage of all special traits, abilities, and possible inventory at their disposal to see how they react in certain environments. The auxiliary egos are anyone else who performs to place the protagonists within the situation. The audience is any onlooker who may provide feedback. The stage is wherever the practice is performed or perhaps fictionally set. The director is the expert who guides the exercise.


Role-playing may also refer to role training where persons rehearse situations in preparation for a future performance and to improve their abilities within a role. The most common examples are occupational training role plays, educational role play exercises, and certain military wargames.

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