DevLearn Experiment: how to speak xAPI?

I have the honor to “speak” (which is a word I dislike, btw) at the eLearning Guild’s DevLearn conference (Nov 16-18, Las Vegas, NV). My session is Busting the Myths Around Gamification. We’ll discuss questions like these.

First of all, my argument is not to do gamification for learning.

Start with Game Thinking in mind. An action-driven, learner-centered systematic approach using engagement and motivation. But ONLY AFTER you have your learner persona and action mapping. You may end up with gamification or game-based learning or neither. We’ll use this framework to explain why.


Do I Need to Know About Game Mechanics?

Either case, you must understand, and by that, I mean experience, game mechanics. So, for the session, I’m planning to bring you some game mechanics. The goal is to make this interactive because talking ABOUT game mechanics is like watching someone eating in a restaurant. Here’s how the experiment looks like (work in progress):

The Story: Beat Mr. Rob@ in The Great Sea of Myth


Your distant relative, Uncle Tomsday, has passed away and you inherited a hexagon on the main island in the middle of the Great Sea of Myth. You travel on the island and bust or trust myths floating in the area while constantly battling the enemy: Mr. Rob@.

While I control the main character’s actions some of the participants will join through their smartphones or tablets. The main character’s actions depends on the individual participants’ decisions. When we face a myth, each individual participant will decide if it’s a BUST or a TRUST, and how much confidence they have in their answers. The aggregated data determines our fate.

And here’s how it works:



The aggregated data will show on the main screen. For example, the main screen will show how many participants picked BUST vs. TRUST for a myth, and what is the average confidence level. We, as a group, make decisions about where to move and what to bust or trust. However, each individual will receive their own score based on their own choices. Just like it should be in real life 🙂

Enters xAPI (Tin Can)

All this communication is done through xAPI. The clients (participants) will send and receive xAPI statements as they play the game. I will also send and receive statements to and from the LRS (learning record store). Think xAPI as a language, where you can make up statements about the WORLD (who did what, where, with what and how), and the LRS (learning record store) as the library that keeps record of everything said. And just like in a good library, you can ask the librarian all kinds of questions about authors and what being said. Like what items have we all recovered as a group? Who has the best score? Which is the most popular move among participants? What was the most confusing myth?

What kind of statements are we talking about?


This is how the game flow looks like in the LRS. Statements should be read from bottom to the top. This is a work in progress, so you see some of the descriptions should be cleaned up but it gives you an idea what’s happening behind the scenes. This is a snapshot of  the “WORL&D,” where the main player (Zsolt) and the participants (nick) can communicate. There are treasure/coins that can be picked up, missing items from Uncle Tomsday’s ship (Mythtical Globe). Myths to be busted or trusted. And directions to move.

Technology Used

Here’s a quick rundown of technology being used in the experiment:

  1. The framework of the story and other structural elements (basically the course) are created in Little Bird Games’ modcourse platform I’m testing now
  2. The main player’s framework is built in Articulate Storyline.
  3. The main player’s and individual player’s game interface was created in Scirra’s Construct 2 game engine.
  4. The xAPI code was written in JavaScript (based on the ADL Tetris example)
  5. The LRS store I’m using for the experiment is WAX LRS.

Should I come to the session?

Should. We’re discussing the following questions (either through a myth or as a take away item):

  1. Is gamification really just a gimmick you need when content is not engaging?
  2. When to use extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation?
  3. I tried adding points and badges but not everyone was pleased. What did I do wrong?
  4. Is creating games expensive (time and financial)?
  5. What are the most engaging game mechanics?
  6. When to use game templates (like eLearning Brothers)? How about Raptivity-type plug and play templates?
  7. When not to gamify?
  8. Does a gamified course really help people learn? Is there a risk of cognitive overload or too much fun?
  9. How do I tell my boss that gamification is not a good idea?
  10. How about simulations? Same as gamification? Or games? Can I see an example?

I’ll be there. What now?

A conference is a three day event. A session is an hour. Your attention span is 7 seconds. That’s nothing. I believe no learning event makes a dramatic change in people’s life. It’s the reflection and application that matter. So, my goal is CEMI learning.


  1. Challenge the way you think even BEFORE the event.
  2. Engage you in the action-driven experiment and discussion DURING the event.
  3. Motivate you to apply at least one element you learned RIGHT AFTER the event (within a week).
  4. Inspire you to learn more and dig deeper LONG AFTER the event (within 45 days).

More to come about the tribes living in the Great Sea of Myth soon…

Come and see it yourself at DevLearn! Session 310 on Wednesday.


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