Server Logs as Data (Minecraft Club #12 03.02.15)

server logs

This week’s club presented a welcome but unexpected new data source: the server log. From the outset, I have intended to include text from the children’s in-game chat as part of my data. So far, I have collected this by using screenshots when I notice text appearing on screen – inevitably this approach has missed a significant amount of talk.

Whilst clicking between screens during this week’s club, however, my attention was drawn to the ‘Log and chat’ window of the server software that runs on my Mac. I soon realised that, alongside the system messages, the children’s chat was also appearing. Trying to copy and paste this, however, didn’t work so I conducted a quick internet search for a solution, to no avail.

Tweeting my request to @MinecraftEdu – via the iPad I was otherwise using for fieldnotes – was much more successful:

chat tweet

Unexpectedly, the link in their second tweet gave me access to the full server and chat log, not only for this week’s club but for the entire history of my fieldwork so far (and, indeed, every time I have ever used MinecraftEDU with classes since 2012).

This lengthy document, something of a hybrid text produced by the game and the children, gives me a number of additional possibilities. I can filter out the chat logs for any given week so far, for instance. This will enable me to examine the sort of language being used by the children in the game. I will also be able to see which children engage with the chat log and which children choose not to.

Potentially, there are additional insights to be gained too, beside their use of text. For instance, the following three lines from this week’s log:

2015-02-03 15:38:44 [INFO] Disconnecting YoloFace234 (/ EduWrongTeacherPassword

2015-02-03 15:39:22 [INFO] Disconnecting grizzlybear100 (/ EduWrongTeacherPassword

2015-02-03 15:40:21 [INFO] Disconnecting BBQBOY (/ EduWrongTeacherPassword

These three usernames relate to three boys who were working together. Their first attempts to log in all seem to involve them making failed attempts to log in as a teacher, which would have given them additional admin powers. Whilst these pieces of information alone don’t mean that they did this purposefully – although all three boys doing so in sequence would be quite a coincidence – it does remind me of an earlier instance of one of these boys taking advantage of access to my computer in order to gain access to additional blocks that would be unavailable on his account. Possibly something to keep an eye on in relation to different manifestations of gameplay.

text on screen

As for the text this week, a brief look reveals that there are a number of instances of chat speak:

<Tom> wuut


(wuut = what you up to?    YOLO = you only live once)

Allegations of flirting:

 <CBtekkersOP> bit of flirting oooohhhhhhh

An example of persuasion:

<Famalamlad> galz can me come in plz (puppy dog eyes!)

A textual recreation of a line from ‘The GoPro song’:

<bantersata> im on a gopro

And what looks like a ‘type as much nonsense as you can’ competition:

<CBtekkersOP> ett
<Mia> hihihiihihihihihhiihhihhiih
<YoloFace234> ftd20he

Of course, all of this needs to be taken in context – for example, I know from my notes that <Tom> above was actually another child mischievously logging in using using his name. This, in fact, is also played out in the chat log, as <bantersata> (a misspelling of <banterSANTA>) suggests:


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