Role-playing techniques

From WikID

What Are Role-Playing Techniques?

Figure 1: Examples of Role-playing techniques using props

Role-playing techniques can help in developing and determining the interaction between user and product. In a role-playing technique, designers perform the tasks of the interaction by means of re-enactment. Role-playing is just like theatre acting: by acting out the tasks the user has to perform, you reach a better understanding of the complexity is reached, and different ideas for the interaction can be developed. One of the major advantages of using role-playing is that the entire body is used; this is more like real interaction as compared to using storyboards or scenarios. With role-playing techniques the tangibility of the interaction can be explored, as well as the appearance and attractiveness of elegant movements. Also, by role-playing you can simulate an interaction walk-through. Role-playing is usually captured using photography or video.

When Can You Use Role-playing Techniques?

Role-playing can be used throughout the design process, for developing ideas about the interaction with a product idea.

How to use Role-Playing Techniques?

Starting Point

Role-playing starts with a first idea about the interaction between product and user.

Expected Outcome

The outcome of using role-playing techniques is a good conceptual idea about the interaction, as well as visualisations or written descriptions of the interaction. Both visualisations and written descriptions can be used for communication and evaluation purposes.

Possible Procedure

  1. Determine the actors and the goal of the actor or the interaction.
  2. Determine what you want to portray in the role-playing technique. Determine the sequence of steps (this is not the final sequence).
  3. Make sure that you record the role-playing.
  4. Divide the roles amongst the team members.
  5. Play the interaction, improvise. Be expressive in your movements. Think aloud when enacting motivations.
  6. Repeat the role-playing several times until different sequences have been enacted.
  7. Analyse the recordings: pay attention to the sequences of tasks, motivations and factors that could influence the interaction.

Tips and Concerns

  • Comics and movies can be a great source of expressive techniques. Some of these can be applied to product design scenarios and storyboards, whereas others are less suitable. Think about camera position (close-up versus overview), sequence and the style in which you visualise the storyboards.

References and Further Reading

  • Jacko, J., et al. (2002) The Human-Computer Interaction Handbook: Fundamentals, Evolving Technologies and Emerging Applications, New York: Erlbaum and Associates.


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