Role Playing

Perform a hypothetical service experience

applied for


Service Staff





also called


what is it

The role play is a representation technique often used during co-design sessions; it allows to explain a service or product idea by acting out an exemplificatory scenario of use. The role play typically requires to define some roles (e.g. the user, the service employee, etc.) and prepare rough prototypes or other materials that can facilitate the performance. While a team is acting out their story, the rest of the audience learn about the idea, understand the high-level sequence of actions required and get to know the hero moments.

use it to

Express the value of an idea, gradually unvealing both functional and emotional layers.

remember to

Set up a context for the scene that is relevant and easy to understand, so the audience can focus on the story and proposed solution.

case studies

Building empathy through role playing

How to see the world through the eyes of elderly residents in nursing homes


Empathy is essential to the design process. It helps us see the world through the eyes of the people we are designing for, to understand their reality and uncover their latent needs. But how do we empathise with our users when we are not physically immersed in their life context? That’s where empathy workshops can come in. The Service Design LAB conducted a empathy workshop using role-playing with their students ofHuman Centred Design, in order to get them immersed in the challenges faced by elderly residents in nursing homes. Students were given a short introduction and provided a set of personas and scenarios. Using props to set the scene and get into character, students interpreted the scenarios, embodying the elderly resident’s experiences.

what is interesting

Based on given scenarios and personas, the students re-enact the scene where the essence of user’s experiences and structural problems is manifested. Through role-playing, they gain an immersive learning of the actual experiences of users. Role-playing other stakeholders in the service scene (e.g. care staff, family members) allow students to understand social contexts.

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