the Fairgame Archive

2006-03-20: RP in Action
by Emily

On NPR they had a story today about an anti-poverty initiative in Savannah.  20% of the citizens of Savannah have an income below the poverty line & recent events in New Orleans have made them think about ways to address the situation.

So they are using role playing!

One part of the project is to bring community leaders & business owners of the city in to take part in a simulation of what it is like to live in poverty.  The intent is catalyze action on the part of the people in the city who are in a position to make a difference. A banker who took part said it powerfully affected his point of view and he is now taking part in further organizing to help people.

What a great reminder about how powerful a form this is.

2006-03-21 06:21:42 Joshua BishopRoby

Yeah, that piece brought a little smile to my face.  I especially liked the poor executive who had two other grown adults roleplaying her children as she tried to get from the table representing her second job over to the table representing the bank, and having to wait for the "bus" because she didn't have a car, and not getting there in time and so being unable to cash her paycheck.

2006-03-21 14:16:17 Emily

Same day driving home I heard this piece about the army using role playing to help military personal learn better ways to interact with Iraqis.  They call it "consequence management".

There are more than 2,000 role-players, including 200 Iraqi-Americans, who speak Arabic and assume the identities of mayors and Iraqi townspeople. They "live" in 12 Iraqi villages where the Muslim call to prayer is heard five times a day.

It is intense. They said veterans sometimes have flashbacks—become disoriented when they wake up in this environment and think they are in Iraq, not CA. Nothing new, really, the army has always done simulation and boffer-type LARPs may owe a lot to military war games. But, again, it's used because it's effective.

Role play is seen as a normal, useful thing when used with a specific goal in mind, when the idea is to inculcate the player with a certain type of experience & message.  It's funny that the recreational use of it with open ended messages are seen as pervy in our culture. D&D et al. is about the least brain-washing use of role play out of the many practiced, but that's what people worry about!

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