Sometimes a role play activity can be a great way to help learners practice key skills and techniques needed to help win a sale or defuse an upset customer but, many times, announcing to a group of learners that they are about to partake in a role play activity can provoke less than enthusiastic responses.
One way around that is to create a digital card-based role play or scenario game. In the game, a player flips a card and reads a scenario from the flipped card. Then other players vote on that player’s response with either a thumbs up or thumbs down card. Or, they play a challenge card. With the playing of a challenge card, one player challenges another players response. This challenge and subsequent reaction typically lead to some robust conversations about the right responses to specific situations.
While a game is great in role play training situations, one question is continually asked, “How does one create a fun and engaging game that is really a disguised role play?” It’s actually rather simple.
The first step is to develop a series of short, realistic scenarios that the learner is likely to encounter. These can be generated by talking with a subject matter expert or speaking with experienced personnel who have previously performed the task. In some cases, the scenarios can be based on what you know about the content and instruction.
When creating scenarios, think of a situation that would cause a learner to have to react or make a statement of some kind. For example, a salesperson has, most likely, encountered a competitor while visiting with a prospect. This would be a great situation to use as a scenario. The scenarios should be short since space is limited to the card and the game is about the player’s response, not what is written on the card. Short poignant scenarios are the best. If you have existing, long role plays, dissect the role play into smaller instances. Think of it as a micro-role play.
Keep in mind that role plays typically don’t have a right or wrong answer. Instead, they provide an opportunity for a varied response based on criteria the organization deems important such as a sales model or a model for interacting with customers. It’s a good idea to create about 10-15 scenario cards for a 30 minute game.
The role play scenario game is a game where other players listen to the response of one player and then react. This means that there needs to be a statement made that prompts the learner to say something that can be evaluated. Craft the situation into a short sentence followed by a call to action. For example, you can turn the above situation into the following short scenario. “You walk into a client’s office and see a competitor speaking with the receptionist. The competitor then turns to you. What do you say?”
Your organization might have a certain protocol for encounters with a competitor or the responding person simply decides what to say based on common etiquette. Then other players react to the response. The other players can even challenge the first player’s response. This is another critical part of creating the game, you need to craft challenges that are general enough to be used with almost any scenario a player will encounter.
To create general challenges, think of categories. One category might be “missing information” where the person who responded didn’t give a complete answer. In that case, you might want to have a challenge such as “Incomplete Response, Say it Again” or “You Missed Something, Trying Again.” You can craft the challenge to meet the tone and culture of your organization.
Another category might be when the responding player gets the answer completely wrong. Then a challenge card to play might read something like “Wrong, Try Again” or “Incorrect, Rephrase.”
Yet another category might be that the answer was adequate and covered all the basics but you want the person to take it up a level. You might create a challenge card such as “Good, but Add Something New to Your Answer” or “Link Your Response to Our Latest Corporate Initiative.” These challenges force the responding player to stretch their current thinking related to their answer.
Since the digital sort game is completely customizable, you can create as many different challenge cards as you would like.
The goal of a role play scenario game is to provide the players with realistic situations in the form of scenarios and then have them, and the other players, think critically about the responses. During the digital game play, you want to foster a sense of energy and community to mimic that which exists while playing physical card games.
Creating realistic situations and thought-provoking challenges engages learners and helps them meet learning outcomes. Now who’s turn is it?
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