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, 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.
Sexual role-play is common in BDSM.
Note that confusion can occur in translations between English and French, where the name "jeux de role" is applied to psychodrama[?].