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A Serious Games Profile for the Experience API (xAPI)

December 09, 2016

ADL Initiative recently collaborated with researchers from the e-learning group, Complutense University of Madrid (Department of Software Engineering and Artificial Intelligence) on their H2020 RAGE research project to create a serious games profile for the Experience API (xAPI) specification. The profile is now published at This effort serves as a starting point for the Serious Games Community of Practice, which will help inform future updates or improvements to the profile.

A serious game is a video game designed with a purpose other than pure entertainment. Traditionally, the methods to measure the effectiveness of a serious game have mostly depended upon data collected from surveys and questionnaires or from proprietary game analytics data sources. However, with the advent of the xAPI it is now possible to immediately collect and analyze data more easily and openly from the interactions within serious games. The interactive, real-time nature of serious games makes them an excellent source of xAPI learning analytics data. However, a serious games profile for xAPI didn’t previously exist so it was a perfect opportunity for research and laying the foundation for one.

This collaboration with ADL Initiative also resulted in a research paper: Applying standards to systematize learning analytics in serious games. ADL Initiative provided an editorial review of the paper and contributions toward the profile research work, but the key performers were the RAGE research team from the Complutense University of Madrid: Ángel Serrano-Laguna, Iván Martínez-Ortiz, and Baltasar Fernández-Manjón. In the paper, the researchers proposed a serious games profile for xAPI and applied it to a case study (a demo game), which explores the technical practicalities of standardizing data acquisition in serious games.

In summary, the paper presents the following:

  • Literature review of tracking learners in serious games interactions
  • A general model to track serious games derived from the literature review
  • Analysis of current activity stream specs & standards to represent the tracking model
  • A profile and vocabulary for implementing serious games tracking with xAPI

The paper also conveys the massive amount of thought and detail that goes into both the semantics and technical characteristics in creating a profile for xAPI. To read or cite this research publication, please use information below:

Ángel Serrano-Laguna, Iván Martínez-Ortiz, Jason Haag, Damon Regan, Andy Johnson and Baltasar Fernández-Manjón (2016, in press). Applying standards to systematize learning analytics in serious games, Computer Standards & Interfaces,