Role-Playing Exercise – A Real-Time Approach to Study Collaborative Command and Control


Jiri Trnka, Johan Jenvald


During emergency response, emergency management and its command and control system are particularly challenged as the responding taskforce puts countermeasures in place intensively and dynamically. To respond effectively these countermeasures are typically coordinated through collaborative work of commanding staff. Information seeking, communication, and data sharing are essential elements of this collaborative command and control work. The traditional research methods used in command and control research do not always allow researchers to fully investigate these elements of collaborative work.

In this paper, we describe the roleplaying exercise, a real-time approach combining role-playing games and emergency management exercises, for studying collaborative command and control, particularly during improvisation and adaptation work. We also describe the practical application of the role-playing exercise approach in the ALFA-05 research study. This is followed by a discussion on methodological lessons learned from this study. This includes simulation realism and control, ecological and communication settings, and data collection. Our experience suggests that the role-playing exercise approach can be considered as a feasible method for research studies, where interaction and communication of commanding staff are in focus.