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Roleplay simulation is a learning method that depends on roleplaying. Learners take on the role profiles of specific characters or organisations in a contrived setting. Roleplay is designed primarily to build first person experience in a safe and supportive environment. Roleplay is widely acknowledged as a powerful teaching technique in face-to-face teaching and roleplay online is also powerful, with some added benefits.
When we are young, we learn by mimicking, playing, and experimentation. As our language skills develop and formal schooling kicks in, these strategies are replaced by language-based learning, which can dampen our curiosity and motivation to learn. Roleplay simulation aims to revive the ease and joy of experiential learning.
Roleplay simulation models human interactions (allowing the players to roleplay) in a constructed environment by:
- creating an artificial social structure (or simulating some known social structure)
- enforcing the social structure
- providing plausible scenarios for players to respond, react and enrole to.
Role-play also has applications in forecasting. One forecasting method is to simulate the condition(s) being studied. Some experts in forecasting have found that role-thinking for producing inaccurate forecasts unless groups act as protagonists in their interactions with one another.
Online roleplay simulation
Online roleplay simulation, or Role Playing Game (RPG), has nothing to do with teaching. It is modeled on the assumption that human interactions are communicative events. It is especially suitable for adults and for subjects like politics, law, commerce, management, etc. In RPG, learners interact using a persona, chase "game goals", try out various strategies and build the experience collectively.
Online roleplay adds to face-to-face roleplay in two ways: anonymity and asynchronicity. Anonymity enables players to roleplay so that external power relationship does not get into the roleplaying. (External power relationship can be considered as "how the way you play golf with your boss is different from that with your best friend".) The asynchronous nature of online roleplay provides time for players to consider and research alternatives and use "out of role" discussions before making a "move".
- 1960s: William A. Gamson at the University of Michigan developed SIMSOC (Gamson, William A. SIMSOC: A manual for participants. Campus Publishers, 1966.) – Face-to-face simulation
- 1980s: Andrew Vincent & John Shephard: Middle East Politics – using E-mail A video with author Andrew Vincent, plus footage from the Middle East role play simulations and student interviews.
- 1990s: ICONS Project and independently Roni Linser & Albert Ip – Integration of web with role play simulation.
- Kesten C. Green and J. Scott Armstrong (2011). "Role thinking: Standing in other people’s shoes to forecast decisions in conflicts" (PDF). International Journal of Forecasting.
- J. Scott Armstrong (2002). "Assessing game theory, role playing, and unaided judgment" (PDF). International Journal of Forecasting 18: 345–352. doi:10.1016/s0169-2070(02)00024-9.