Introduction to MMORPG Chat Forensics
In today’s technological world, a popular topic of conversation is a user’s reasonable expectation of privacy. While there are a myriad of educational talks and campaigns about internet and social media safety, not many people are discussing the potential for video games to record information about users. Similar to social media sites, online games have the potential to store information about its users, including conversation logs.
This blog will be documenting the LCDI’s investigation into the world of massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs). Specifically, we are looking to examine the communication that occurs between users in text and native voice chats. These communication methods help immerse the user into the game and create a collaborative environment with other users, but they raise many questions for a researcher. What happens to conversations after they have taken place? Are MMORPG chats deleted, or does the MMORPG store records of past conversations?
The LCDI plans to investigate MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2. We will be investigating the chosen games in an attempt to identify any logs that the games may have of text and voice conversations. These types of logs have been proven to exist before in popular MMORPGs, such as Everquest II. The Digital Forensics Investigator investigated Everquest II, finding that when in-game logging was enabled, viewing the command log would also reveal a form of chat history.
With many MMORPGs, players are required to issue a command to send a message to another player. In the case of Everquest, the command “/tell” is required to send a message to a particular player. The “/tell” command and the contents of the message are recorded by the command log. With the number of MMORPGs utilizing this same command style to facilitate communication between players, it is entirely possible for this command log (“chat log”) to exist in other games.
The LCDI is running a poll over at www.facebook.com/LeahyCenterforDigitalInvestigation to see which games you would like to see investigated, so vote for your favorite today. If you have questions or comments about the project, you can also visit our blog. We look forward to sharing our findings with you throughout the coming semester so stay tuned.