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To explore how details add clarity to personas, roles, and motivations.

Level of Difficulty:



Group Game (Minimum 4)


This group works best in small groups of 4.

Choose one person to be the primary practitioner in the exercise. Now, go around and gift three different traits to the person. These are not literal traits about that performer, but improvised, made up traits about a character.

After each trait, the recipient will deliver a single line of dialogue about that trait, in the guise of that character.

The three traits should be gifted in the following order: Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual.

A Physical trait is something like hair color, or arm length.

An emotional trait might be a fear or love.

And a spiritual trait does not need to be religious, but is rather a belief system.

For instance, the following conversation may exist:

You have arms twice as long as the average person.

And you know what, I can reach anything. Off any shelf. It says so on my dating profile.

You are scared of spiders.

The problem with reaching into any shelf though? I don’t know if there is a spider there. Have you ever had one crawl on your hand? It’s scary!

You believe spiders have developed mind control.

And that’s why I wear this tin foil hat, to keep spiders from knowing my thoughts. They can’t lie in wait in the cabinet if they don’t know which one I will open (mimes karate move)

The central player will then introduce himself, to which the group as a whole will say “their name is…”

My name is Steve Webb

(in unison) Their name is Steve Webb

Lastly, different members of the group can ask Steve up to three questions. Steve will then answer the questions as his character. Questions should continue to add detail to the character. For instance:

When did you get your first tin hat?

SO my first tin hat was actually one of those baseball caps with the fan, but I kept getting my fingers caught in it.

Are spiders in collusion with any other animal?

(whispering) Sharks

Can you dust above the fan for me?

You know, last time I dusted a fan three spiders fell on me. THREE! No, I won’t do it.

As time permits, go around the group so that each member can be the focus exploring and creating a character.

Practical Application:

In product design we often leverage personas to understand who are customers are. How might we playact as our target demographic to further get in their mindset?

How might we attribute emotions and goals to ourselves, and our stakeholders to better understand their needs and to design for them?

In what context or situations might it be beneficial to name specific wants, attributes, and behaviors to customers and stakeholders to better build products and services for them?

See More Character Games

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