What is Discord And What is it Used For?
By Craig Pearson
History of Voice Chat and GamingMultiplayer games are usually better with voice chat. That way, you can plan, execute, and laugh without having to type it all out. Previous VOIP (Voice over IP) methods before Discord included programs such as Ventrilo and TeamSpeak. Though they were excellent for their time and are still in use today, you probably won’t find them as widely used as Discord. Both programs required a server running on a PC to which the clients connect. Both Ventrilo and Teamspeak still require you to know the server’s address (either a URL or IP) that you enter when trying to access the server. When you eventually join, you can voice chat with friends and other games. That’s about it, really. Discord has simplified the complicated process of hosting a gaming community’s communications on the PC. Discord’s servers are hosted by the company and don’t require any additional installation by their users. To access a Discord server, you click on an invite generated by the server’s admin. It could be a private link given directly to you or a public link that anyone can click on to join the server. It’s secure and lets you build a community easily. But Discord adds a slew of features to the basic voice and text chat services that make it stand out.
What is Discord?Discord is a free communications app that lets you share voice, video, and text chat with friends, game communities, and developers. It has hundreds of millions of users, making it one of the most popular ways to connect with people online. Discord can be used on almost every popular platform and device, including Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, iPadOS, Android, and via web browsers.
What is Discord for?To communicate! Anyone can create a Discord server for free for any number of reasons. You can use it to gather friends together in a group text or voice chat just generally. Use it to post gifs, share memes and screenshots, or talk about your day. Or you can run it while in-game, using the voice channels to plan things or make silly noises. Failing at a game? You can stream your game to your friends, who can give advice or, more likely, laugh at your bad aim. Game developers and publishers will often use Discord as a place to share gaming goodies with their communities. You can see concept art, new screenshots, and even be given access to a game on Discord.
How to start using Discord?When Discord loads up, it shows the ‘Home’ screen. From here, you can see your friends list in the main window, and on the left of the screen, you can see any servers you’ve joined. You’ll need someone to talk to! Each user has a unique Discord tag, which is a case-sensitive username and ID number, that they can give to you. The ‘Add Friend’ button at the top of the home screen will let you connect with them. If they accept your friendship request, you can start a text, voice, or video chat directly with them on this screen. You can even add others to the chat, but if you plan on doing that regularly, it might be better doing so in a server.
How to create a Discord server?Creating a server is very easy and costs you nothing. Servers are listed on the very left of the Discord client. If you haven’t joined one, you can click on the ‘Add Server’ button. It allows you to create your own server very easily by following the prompts and templates already made by Discord. You just answer a few questions about the server’s purpose, whether it’s public (anyone can join) or private (for friends), give it a name, and you’ve created a server. You’ll have complete control over the server’s settings. To add others, right-click on the list of channels on the left of the server’s screen and select ‘Invite People’. This allows you to directly invite friends from your friends list. You can also create a link that will allow anyone who has it to join the server without being directly invited by you. The link, when put in a browser URL bar, will direct people to your server in the app. You can create text and voice chat channels, enabling the users of the server to voice and text chat away from the main channel. That way, the people playing Rocket League won’t interrupt the Fall Guys players. You can kick troublesome players from the server or promote good players to use the server’s admin tools to which you have access.
Discord Voice ChatYou can chat with friends directly via Discord’s direct message system on the Home screen. A voice call can be started by right-clicking on a friend’s name and choosing ‘call.’ They’ll be alerted to your call, and you can talk for free as long as you wish. You’ll require a pair of headphones and a microphone to make the call. Servers have voice channels. This is where groups of users will join and can all talk to one another at the same time. It’s like being together in the same room, meaning you can more easily coordinate in games. It makes multiplayer gaming a whole lot easier. These are usually available to all the server’s users, though often servers will define specific uses for channels. They could be used for a specific game or even a specific game mode if people want to play the same game but not the same mode. So you could have one for Fortnite Battle Royale players, while the Fortnite Creative players are in another channel. Joining a voice channel will automatically turn on voice communications, so you’ll hear anyone broadcasting in that channel. Voice chat has a few settings. You set it to ‘push-to-talk,’ meaning it will only broadcast your microphone when you hold down a key, or you can set it to broadcast when it hears your voice at a certain volume. You can also leave your mic ‘open,’ which means it’ll broadcast all the time.
Discord Text ChatA Discord server can have multiple text channels. They’re typically used for the community to ask and answer questions, share jokes and memes, and make conversation without having to use a microphone. A new Discord server will start with a General channel, but admins can create multiple channels for specific reasons. These could include server Announcements and Rules, or specific game-related chats, such as a Fortnite channel. It’s up to the admin and the server users to define. Text channels can be made ‘read-only,’ which would be good for a Rules channel. Most text channels will be open for users to use, and there isn’t a chat filter to block out obscene language, though there is a filter that will attempt to block an explicit image from being posted.
Discord Video ChatIf you have a camera plugged in, Discord also supports video chat. Like voice chat, you can start a call with a friend on your list from within the friends list or direct messages in the Home section of the app. The video call icon, shaped like a camera, will start a direct call with whomever you have selected from the friend list. Servers can also host group video calls of up to 25 people. They can be started in any voice channel. After joining, you can turn your camera on to either start or join a video chat. They’re a lot like Zoom calls and can be used to host large meetings.
Game Streaming in DiscordYou can stream your screen to your Discord pals and community. This isn’t like Twitch, YouTube, or Facebook, where it’s meant to be a public show. It’s more of an advanced version of video chat. You can do it in direct message via the home screen or within a public voice chat on the server. It’s entirely confined to the server and to the channel to which you started to stream. You can use it to share your progress in a game with friends, or to show off some loot, or to ask for assistance. You’re even capable of streaming other screens, such as a paint program. Though you can stream a screen alongside your video stream, you can’t combine the screens to overlay you playing picture-in-picture. Unless you buy Nitro, streaming is limited to 720p and up to 30fps. Nitro users can stream up to their source resolution at up to 60fps.
What is a public Discord server?Lots and lots of games now have their own Discord server. They’re a place where the developer can share information with fans, update them on the game’s progress, provide customer support, and let the community talk to each other. You can join by either searching through the public servers with the ‘Explore Public Servers’ button or joining via a public invite. The Official Fortnite Channel has nearly 800,000 members sharing screenshots, looking for groups, and discussing the game. Before you can talk in any of the servers, you must agree to the rules listed. All it takes is reading the 14 rules, which include not giving out personal information, not harassing others, linking to harmful websites, and saying you agree. If you do that, you’ll be allowed to interact with the community relatively securely. If you break the rules, you can be kicked and banned from returning to the server.
What are Discord roles?Admins can create roles for their Discord server. This is a powerful way of keeping other users in check. They can limit or unlock permissions across the server. That means you can create a helper role with abilities to create or lock text, voice, and video channels, and kick or mute users. You can create a role that’s applied to each user of the server, so if you don’t want anyone using Video chat, that can be disabled for everyone. Roles can be abused, so any powers above a normal user should only be given to someone you trust.
Discord Privacy ControlsLike any modern software platform, Discord has a number of safety and privacy features for you to enable. You can filter who you receive messages from, block anyone you don’t feel safe talking to, and enable additional security features. Discord’s own site has advice on how to secure your Discord presence. We’d advise you to check regularly for any updates.
Discord NitroYou get a lot with a free Discord account, but you can also support them by buying a Discord Nitro subscription. For US$9.99 per month or US$99.99 per year, you can get access to bigger uploads (100MB in comparison to a free account’s 8MB). If you stream your game or screen, you can go beyond the 720p and 30fps limits, matching your screen’s output at up to 60fps. Nitro users can have animated avatars on their profile and add custom emojis to any server they own.
Download Discord for free at the Epic Games Store and start connecting with friends and your favorite gaming communities today.