Is it just a gaming-focused application that helps connect gamers all over the world? Or is there more to it?
Discord wallpaper (source)
A Brief History of Online Chat in Gaming
In the early days of online gaming, communicating with other players online in real-time via voice chat was a luxury back then. Voice chat in gaming started in the sixth generation of consoles, according to Wikipedia, with the Sega Dreamcast released in 1999 through its online service, SegaNet, and a specific number of games that feature voice chat functionality. During that time, the internet was in its infancy and it wasn’t easily accessible to many as we have now.
In current times, gamers are blessed with various ways of communicating with fellow players both locally and globally. One such tool that gamers can use is Discord. But what exactly is Discord? Is it just an online tool meant for gaming? Or does it have more features that can be useful for more than just gaming?
Explanation of Discord and Its History
For those who aren’t aware, Discord is an online app that allows its users to connect via voice, video, and text chat. It also allows its users to create “communities” within the app so that people with the same hobbies and interests can meet up virtually within Discord. Basically, it is like Zoom or Skype for the newer generation. Still, it has features similar to Telegram’s “channels” that allow people with the same likes to be clustered in a single community.
But many users and gamers alike heavily associate Discord with gaming, as mentioned in the article published by The Drum. The creation of Discord resulted from Jason Citron’s (one of the founders of Hammer & Chisel gaming studio) team struggling with both Skype and TeamSpeak during the development of the studio’s first game, Fates Forever. That prompted him to develop an in-game communication app that doesn’t greatly disrupt the flow of gaming, especially when it comes to live, online game matches.
An office employee using Discord as his workspace communication tool (source)
Initially, Discord’s purpose was to be an in-game communications app for gamers, allowing them to relay and strategize their ideas and tactics without having to fiddle with complicated and game-intrusive non-gaming applications and services. But thanks to its partnership with massive game titles such as Fortnite and Rocket League, Discord’s user base rapidly grew. The huge number of messages sent from 6 billion in 2017 to 15 billion in 2018 shows how large the number of users using the app.
According to CNBC, Discord accounted for more than 140 million active users per month in 2019 alone, alongside 19 million active “servers” (the communities thing mentioned earlier), wherein multiple subchannels can be created in a single server alone. Discord doesn’t contain ads and instead earns revenue from selling Nitro ($9.99 monthly/$99.99 yearly), an in-app service that uses additional features once purchased.
Benefits of Using Discord and What To Know
The main benefit of using Discord is that it provides real-time online text chatting services for its users while being non-intrusive/disruptive when gaming.
Aside from that, the app also provides online voice and video chatting services, as well as the previously mentioned servers and the channels that a user can create within it.
To use Discord, you need to join a server that matches your interests or needs and get approved by the server moderator(s) or follow their instructions in getting access to their server and the channels inside it.
Discord user interface sample (source)
For those who are new to Discord, below are some of the official glossary words released by Discord’s support themselves that you can take note of when it comes to using the app:
- Server – the place where users can chat with each other and do other activities set by the server moderator(s). Each server is unique and can be only entered through invites from someone who is already a part of that server or by using an invite link. Server sizes vary, from smaller ones with one or two channels to larger ones with multiple channels within it. Speaking of channels…
- Channel – each server in Discord can contain two types of channels, namely voice and text channels. Each type of channel can be dedicated to a topic of the server’s moderator(s) choosing and will contain specific rules for each channel.
- Text Channels – users in this channel type can post messages and share various files and images allowed by the server’s moderator(s) and rules enforced in the server
- Voice Channels – voice and video calls are allowed for users in this channel type. Additionally, they can share their screen (screen share) with their friends on this channel, which is called Go Live.
- Go Live – allows users to share their screen of choice with other users within the server the host is in or in a private DM.
- DMs & GDMs – users can send private messages to their chosen friends (DM). If a user invites a maximum of ten people, it becomes a private group DM (GDM), which can be only accessed via invites from the sender/host.
- Nitro – Discord’s premium subscription service wherein special perks are given to subscribing users, such as a customizable Discord Tag, custom emotes in every server, higher file upload limits, and discounted Server Boosts (similar to Nitro which provides server-based perks and boosts the user’s server of choice).
Closing Thoughts: More Than Just Text Chat
From starting as an application made by a game studio to fit their communication needs to be one of the applications essential for online gamers around the world, Discord has evolved to match the needs of its user base.
Even non-gamer users can enjoy Discord thanks to its unique servers and channels that can pique their interests and hobbies, allowing them to meet and talk to various people online in various ways in a safe and moderated virtual environment.