Audio Diaries (or Audio Logs) are the main narrative device in BioShock, BioShock 2, and Burial at Sea. They were recorded by citizens of Rapture, either as notes for themselves or as messages for other residents. Picking up an Audio Diary stores it automatically in the associated in-game menu while offering to play it by entering the key associated to the last one found. However, a handful of plot-crucial diaries throughout the games play automatically as soon as they are picked up.
The recording device which plays Audio Diaries is the Accu-Vox Personal Voice Recorder, a product of Fontaine Futuristics, which started manufacturing it more than five years before Rapture's Civil War.
Diaries are messages recorded by
the people of Rapture, either as
notes for themselves or as messages
for other residents.
Press _ to play the last diary you
picked up. You can access a full list
of diary messages from the
MESSAGES tab, from which you can
play back diaries that you've
Diaries are messages recorded by the people of Rapture, either as notes for themselves or as messages for other residents.
Press and hold _ to play the last diary you picked up. You can access a full list of diary messages from the _ menu, from which you can play back diaries that you've previously acquired.
The frame appearing over the recorded citizen's photo in BioShock 2.
BioShock-themed real-world stickers, featuring the Audio Diary.
After either a radio transmission or another playing of an audio Audio Diary, a previously obtained Diary will play directly after on its own (without having selected it from the menu). The reason this happens remains unclear. This occurs in both BioShock and BioShock 2. For example, picking up the Agnus Dei Audio Diary automatically plays it; after it finishes playing, the Alone at Last diary (if picked up previously in the same area) will start too.
Behind the Scenes
Early in the development of BioShock Audio Diaries were planned to be "squishy, organic things, with lips and ears" instead of tape recorders.
The transcripts of Audio Diaries provided in the games often have errors or discrepancies with the actual words of the audio. This has been corrected in the transcripts on the BioShock Wiki.
Accu-Vox devices are advanced for their time, as compact audio-tape technology were not marketed until 1962, two years after the events of BioShock.
The Accu-Vox recorders are ridiculously large compared to the average person, which is purposefully done by the game designers so that the recordings are easier to locate.
Rick's Custom Props was commissioned to make four Accu-Vox recorders for the There's Something in the Sea participants.