Our company produces a business-to-business software which is (more or less) a social network for companies.

Every now and then, we organize some kind of "Role Play session" for testing the software. One or two developers (sometimes even sales people) act as one company, giving their company a name, a logo and so on, and interacting with the other developers' mock companies just in the way real users would: sending messages, requests, organizing employments and so on.

In scope for this kind of testing is pretty much everything: functionality, usability, stability, performance.

My question is: Is there a name for this kind of testing which sounds somehow serious and scientific? Our CTO thinks "Role Play Test" kind of sounds childish and the board of directors might think we are playing an online game like World of Warcraft instead of doing serious work.

I know, it's some kind of Exploratory Testing or Bug Bush, but the important aspect, in my opinion, is the interactivity and the role play which is not really covered by "Exploratory Testing".

(Note: This question is quite similar to Is there a name for these kinds of tests? - however, it's not quite the same, since the interactivity aspect is not really stressed there.)

  • 1
    I don't think there exist an official term for this, at least I never heard of it. This way of testing is not uncommon however, I also practice it now and then and find it very useful. What about the term Interactive simulation sessions?
    – Bouke
    Sep 11, 2018 at 11:25

3 Answers 3


I think this is commonly referred to as

Persona Based Testing

This exists for both manual role-playing (as you refer to) and is also a useful tool for writing automated tests to help get the test writer in the right frame of mind. It helps to create software when, instead of saying "user updated profile", we say "Mary, a programmer aged 28, updates her profile".

Some links:


Persona Based Role Scene Actualization might provide you enough buzz words if that is your goal

  • Thanks for your thoughts. However, I'm not 100% sure if "persona" is the appropriate concept for what we are doing. We don't use "fixed" personas, but somehow just create companies and users on the fly.
    – cis
    Sep 11, 2018 at 14:58
  • not sure what you mean by "fixed". Yes make them up as needed is still personas. Remember you call this role-playing but you are looking for another word or phrase which does not seem obvious to me. Sep 12, 2018 at 0:58
  • With "not fixed" I mean: During those test sessions, any developer can at any point switch from e.g. playing an 18-year-old girl to playing a 90 y/o guy. That's even encouraged. However, as far as my understanding goes, that does somehow contradict the idea of "personas", doesn't it?
    – cis
    Sep 13, 2018 at 4:56
  • I don't think so. New personas can be adopted as needed. Sep 13, 2018 at 10:37
  • Agreed with this, I also call it Persona Testing, since it's a technique that puts the testers in to customer’s mind, and of course there will be no "fixed persona" like you said, it would be bad testing result then.
    – BetaTester
    Sep 19, 2018 at 10:32

This sounds like a type of User Acceptance Testing, the only difference being is that you're acting as the end user.

If the purpose of naming this exercise is just to impress the directors or to sound more professional, then I guess it doesn't really matter what you call it - you're just giving a name to a process.

@Michael Durrant's 'Persona Based Testing' would work because it encompasses what you're doing and you could always explain what the activity involves after.

Otherwise, you could also consider combining common test activity names to make a new one, such as User Exploratory Testing (which sounds like what you're doing).

  • I think calling it Alpha Testing would be confusing, that is mostly only used just before releasing the software, followed by Beta Testing by external users.
    – Bouke
    Sep 12, 2018 at 10:37
  • That's how I've read OP's scenario - they internally (alpha) test the software before being (beta) tested by external users or releasing. The only difference is that they're pretending to be the end users. But as I say... I don't think it matters what they call it, as long as they agree on and understand what the activity encompasses :)
    – dvniel
    Sep 12, 2018 at 11:54
  • He states 'Every now and then, we organize some kind of "Role Play session" for testing the software.', so I understand it as an activity which can be done any time.
    – Bouke
    Sep 12, 2018 at 11:56
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    Yeah, that's fair - I've just assumed they undertake this testing at the end of a test cycle or just before a release, but it could be at any point in the SDLC.
    – dvniel
    Sep 12, 2018 at 12:00
  • Actually, it doesn't really matter when we are doing those tests. Sometimes we do it on a pre-release stage for testing new features, sometimes we do it on production to test the current release for bugs and flaws. The procedure is the same. So, alpha testing is not really the point, I think.
    – cis
    Sep 13, 2018 at 5:00

If your concern are the directors I agree with @trashpanda and call it UAT - while internally the question is how you test, and I've been using the term Soap Opera Testing - though the term still might confuse your directors - however there's a serious article about it ;-)

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