This article, written by Markus Montola, looks at the process of role-playing that takes place in different games, and the inconsistencies between the definitions of role-playing. In this article, Montola defines the role-playing mindset as a method of game playing, which can be optionally combined with various game systems. Role-play typically has no inherent endogenous goals at all. The rules of role-playing only provide the structure for the activity, but give no end condition or an objective.
Montola states that role-play, a social activity, always has three elements present: an imaginary game world, a power structure, and personified player characters. According to the article, the power structure of role-playing activities about imaginary people acting out in an imaginary environment is what differentiates it from children's play. Montola proposes three general rules that should always be followed in any type of role-playing:
1) Role-playing is an interactive process of defining and re-defining the state, properties and contents of an imaginary game world.
2) The power to define the game world is allocated to participants of the game. The participants recognize the existence of this power hierarchy.
3) Player-participants define the game world through personified character constructs, conforming to the state, properties and contents of the game world.
This article examines several forms of role-playing, primarily taking examples from tabletop role-playing, live-action role-playing, and virtual role-playing.