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In role-playing, participants adopt characters, or parts, that have personalities, motivations, and backgrounds different from their own. Role-playing is like being in an improvisational drama or free-form theatre, in which the participants are the actors who are playing parts.



Role-play is often used as a tool by mental health professionals (especially drama therapists), teachers, and trainers as a way to explore social situations and work through the possible actions and consequences.

For example, Peace Corps trainers use role-playing to prepare volunteers for entry into an unfamiliar culture. For another, marriage counselors may ask a husband and a wife to play the part of each other in a communication exercise.


A role-playing game is a type of game where players role-play by assuming the role of a character in a fictional world. These are often paper and pencil games like Dungeons & Dragons, computer games like Final Fantasy, or massively multi-player online role-playing games (MMORPGs) like EverQuest, Ultima Online, and the new World of Warcraft. An emergent form of the RPG is the live action role-playing game, where participants act out their characters' actions, often using elaborate costumes, fake weaponry and other props. (See the gamemaster article for an example of role-playing within a paper and pencil game).


Online text based role playing games have become much more popular online over the last decade or so, with message boards being one of the most common formats.

When role-playing on a message board, the player controls a character, and works them into the plot along with other characters controlled by other players. The end result is an unpredictable story that may or may not finish, depending on the length of story and devotion of the players. These RP's, as dubbed, are divided into many different genre, topics, literacy-levels, and can even be divided based on the sexual orientation of the RP characters (not to be confused with Sexual RP'ing, where 'cybering' or other various forms of sexual gratification are the sole purpose).

Sexual role playing

Sexual role-play is a form of role-play in which partners take parts in a drama that provides sexual gratification; these might include a teacher and pupil, employer and maid, or parent and child. Sexual role-play is common in BDSM.

Note that confusion can occur in translations between English and French, where the name "jeux de rôle" is applied both to game and psychodrama.

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