The History Of Role-Play
To role-play is to change your personality and/or actions to adopt a new persona. This act can be done consciously or unconsciously. Role-playing can be used as a tool to help one prepare for a difficult social task that requires the overcoming of one’s fears or inhibitions. One may also choose to role-play in order to embrace a fantasy, as is often done so in the world of theater. During the 1920s, the psychiatrist Jacob Moreno discovered that his patients often found greater success in dealing with their emotional problems by acting-out scenarios that would address these issues, rather than by talking about the issues directly. He called this process of embracing a character in order to tackle one’s psychiatric issues “role-playing.”
To this day, role-playing is a common technique used in group-therapy sessions to aid patients in exploring their problems and concerns. By the 1940s, the world of business began to embrace the act of role-playing. Through the acting-out of a variety of scenarios, one could prepare to handle the issues of a job without having any real-life consequences. For example, through role-play a salesman could practice a pitch and deal with common customer-relations issues without risking loosing a sale. Certainly a soldier would benefit greatly from practicing combat techniques in a simulator (a type of role-play) before engaging in an actual battle.
Almost any job performance could be improved by practicing the skills necessary for success in the workplace without the risk of failure. In modern times, role-playing has become a common entertainment tool. There are many video games that act as simulators to battle or flight. Furthermore, there are games that can be played on the Internet, such as World of Warcraft, that require the players to embrace a different identity to create stories with fellow gamers. Role-playing has a history rooted in psychiatry, but the practice has grown to be used in almost any walk of life from the professional to the playful.