Recording Warcraft chat?
May 1, 2006 6:25 AM   Subscribe

Researching World of Warcraft: I'm a graduate student studying online communication and social organization. I'm very interested in analyzing the chat interactions that happen in WoW. So far as I can tell, however, there's no way to save a transcript of the chat window. Is there any way to capture these interactions?

It gets a little more complicated, of course. I'm running WoW on a Mac with OS X. I imagine most players are running the game under Windows. As I can't afford an intel based Mac, a cross platform solution would be ideal. Ultimately, I want to capture my chat as well as those of friends/guild members who might be willing to help me out be recording their communications. Thanks!
posted by aladfar to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
You want to use the /chatlog command. It will log everything to a file in the Logs directory in your World of Warcraft installation folder.

You may also find this utility useful: it's a chat log parser.
posted by flipper at 6:38 AM on May 1, 2006

WOW's not my bag, but I'm sure if you ask some clan forums for IRC logs, someone will more than gladly point you to an archive.
posted by Smart Dalek at 7:31 AM on May 1, 2006

/chatlog!! I had no idea it could be so simple. Thank you!
posted by aladfar at 7:44 AM on May 1, 2006

Yes, /chatlog is what you want. One of the guys in my guild did an undergrad paper on WoW and made liberal use of it for his interviews.

However, for your research you might want to be aware that as much as half of some guilds' social communication occurs in TeamSpeak or one of the similar products. Pop in to my guild chat and you're likely to see a lot of half-conversations -- people without microphones contributing to the voice chat -- about almost anything. For example most of the recipes shared are by voice (and then followed up with a forum post). It's a lot easier to carry on casual conversation with voice than to type while I'm bear tanking elite Silithids and their adds.

The Windows TS client has a recording facility, but the TeamSpeex third party Mac client does not. A friendly Windows user with a bunch of disk space could take care of recording for you. I don't know about the other voice systems; my guild uses TS as do the other guilds I associate with, and TS is the only one I'm aware of with a Mac client.

Your mileage may vary based on how much the players you associate with stand around in Ironforge scratching their asses and typing.
posted by majick at 7:53 AM on May 1, 2006

A hearty second to majick's comment about voice communication. After a certain level, or if you're an established player with a guild, you're going to be doing a non-trivial amount of talking over headset, or at least listening. My guild uses Ventrilo primarily, which does have a mac client (so says their webpage, I have no experience with it) and TS if we're working with another guild in a raid. A quick check doesn't reveal any (internal) way to record with Vent, unfortunately, but you could probably transcribe it if you weren't doing anything else, since it's often got a bit of a delay due to people switching on and off their mics.
posted by cobaltnine at 8:04 AM on May 1, 2006

Very interesting. I had no idea about the voice chat . . . the guild I've joined (I've only been playing for a couple of days) is entirely text based.

Voice chat brings an interesting element to the game that I'd not considered. I'd love to give it a try.

Any chance you fellow MeFi's might want to help me out by recording a few sessions and/or letting me hang out with your guild online?
posted by aladfar at 8:45 AM on May 1, 2006

Here's an example conversation from WoW.
posted by malp at 10:28 AM on May 1, 2006

Glad to see interest in this area! I did my senior anthro thesis (undergrad) on WoW, and struggled with exactly this question.

The problem with chat logs is that it's like putting a tape recorder on someone - everything anyone ELSE says around this person is recorded, and they haven't given informed consent. Furthermore, it's too invasive to tell everyone you (or your subjects) ever talks to that you're doing a study and that they could be quoted. So you've got a quandary. You can't tell everyone, so is it okay to record people without telling them? In general, I don't think this is acceptable. The only reasonable argument I've heard for it being okay is that because recording is so easy and transparent in synthetic worlds people have less of an expectation of privacy. Still, I suspect not everyone in WoW would agree with that, and they have a right to decline to be involved.

The best situation I could imagine was if you could get an entire guild to sign off on the process, and record just their conversations on the guild channel. The problem is that (as pointed out in the thread) chat in WoW is extremely multi-modal, and it will be hard to capture enough context if you get just the chat channel. I've also heard that voice chat often has non-guild members in it for a variety of reasons, which might complicate the informed consent process.

I really wanted to analyze chat too, but I ended up deciding it was too much trouble. I focused on out-of-game interviews, and still learned a lot. This depends on your field, though. Since I was doing an ethnography, this was fine.

If you have any other questions/ideas, I'd be happy to talk over email, too. I can send you my paper/biblio/whatever if you're interested.
posted by heresiarch at 11:06 AM on May 1, 2006

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