The Role Play tool: Thinking differently to better understand

Nov 11th 2018

Role play brings potential users to life and helps step into someone else’s shoes

Think differently

Role Playing helps members of the design team step outside of their default ways of thinking. An examination of the roles that users typically play in real life can help inform better design decisions.

This can include physical exercises, performing in roles, and interacting with others, or it can be more a thinking activity in which members of the design team change their perspective while conducting their work.

In the Core project, we encourage all types of role play using a set of cards developed specifically for the purpose.


The Role Playing cards at Core Innovation lab


Way to use role play


Create your own or use our special Role Playing card deck designed in-house. The cards represent different perspectives or absent stakeholders. Try the following:

  1. Write down a problem statement or emerging intervention idea.
  2. Draw a Role Playing card at random.
  3. Ask yourself, what would this role think of the statement or idea? How would they change what you’ve written?
  4. Make note of the new perspective and repeat the exercise.


To help the design team to think outside of their default mode, try a role-playing activity where they act out a scenario or write a script using the alternative point of view posited by this role.

Role Play Cards

Role Play Guidelines