Instant messaging

Discord: what the social network of gamers is and how it works

Discord is a multiplatform freeware VoIP application originally created to form virtual gamer communities, but it has expanded and covered the spheres of negotiations, education, among others. This application allows its users to communicate through chat channels, transmitting text, images, audio and video.

Basically, Discord behaves like a social network and an instant messaging service, which hosts different types of communities, being freely available in both an app version for smartphones and tablets and as an executable client for computers, and it even has a web version that can be accessed from any browser. Specifically, this app is compatible with Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android and iOS.

The parent idea from which Discord emerged is due to Jason Citron, founder of the company Discord Inc., who had noticed the difficulties of gaming communication through the VoIP software available during the first years of the 2010s. The main ones The shortcomings of VoIP software at the time were heavy resources, security, and the need to share multiple IP addresses to establish a connection. Thus, in 2015 the Citron technology company at that time (Hammer & Chisel) announced the launch of Discord, an application that has currently exceeded 250 million active users.

Characteristics

Discord is a freeware that in recent years has progressively gained popularity, standing out in the gamer environment for providing a friendly, efficient and secure means of communication to improve the social experience of online multiplayer games. Behind Discord’s success are a number of notable features that innovated VoIP technology, including the following:

  • It uses a client-server network and communication channels similar to those of IRC (Internet Relay Chat), but differs from these by not mapping hardware or virtual servers, despite their distributed nature.
  • The Discord client is based on the Electron framework and is developed with web development tools, which is why it can act as a cross-platform application that can be run in web browsers.
  • Discord users can create servers, manage their public visibility and access, as well as create more than one chat channel.
  • Within a server, users can create chat channels within a framework category, whose visibility and access can also be modified to add restrictions such as, for example, that every user who wants to enter a chat channel for the first time must be over 18 years of age, and you must also confirm your willingness to access the chat.
  • In addition to traditional chat based merely on sending text messages, this application allows you to create voice chat channels.
  • It is an application designed to be used while playing games, thanks to the low latency of its dedicated server infrastructure and voice chats.
  • It has a four-digit discriminator represented by # that allows several users to share the same alias and facilitates the search for friends.
  • Provides tools for creating Internet bots and for interacting with the Discord API to control created bots. Bots are useful elements since they control secondary actions that facilitate the gaming and social experience of the user.
  • Application that is associated with other software such  as Twitch and Steam, to optimize the social experience of its users’ chats.
  • Despite being a freeware, the developers of Discord Inc. have created the paid version of Discord called “Nitro”. This version offers various customization options such as profiles with a single label, animated emojis, the possibility of uploading files above the normal limit, improving the created servers, among others.

How does it work

Discord has a client-server network which is responsible for globally connecting all users of this application. Like any other application of this nature, to be a user it is necessary to register on the official website of the application, becoming part of the diverse community.

The Discord client is the executable file that is installed on the device, it deals with linking said device with the available dedicated servers, sending invitation codes. However, each user has the ability to create their own servers and send public invitations to the community. To make finding dedicated servers easier, there are official Discord websites with lists of servers categorized by different topics.

On the other hand, the relationship between Discord clients and servers is simplified with its web version, which operates directly on the infrastructure of its official website. Discord servers contain chat channels similar to instant messaging application chat groups, so there is a certain familiarity with the environment that facilitates communication between users. In addition, during the server creation process, direct invitation links are generated to share with other users and spread the server in the community.

How to use

The essential use of Discord consists in the creation of servers and access to dedicated servers of the Discord community or of a group of friends. But, in order to carry out these basic actions, it is first necessary to register in the Discord community in order to be recognized as a user. Previously, the client installation was necessary, but with the web version that can be omitted. Without adding more, below are the steps to carry out the basic actions mentioned:

How to create an account

  1. Access the Discord main website and on the right side of the top bar press the “Login” button .
  2. Press the blue word “Register” found below the blue “Login” button .
  3. Fill in the typical account registration form, writing the email, username and password of the account.
  4. The web will be updated and will show a small window of preconfiguration of servers. Since you do not want to start creating servers immediately, you must press the “Skip” button to finish the account registration.
  5. Finally, enter the email and open the email sent by Discord so that it can verify the email account.

How to join a server

  1. In the main menu of the user profile, press the “+” button located on the left margin of the screen.
  2. Press the green button “Join a server” located to the right of the box. Enter the server invitation in the respective text space and press the green “Join” button.
  3. If you do not have an invitation to a specific dedicated server, there are several sites on the Internet that provide official Discord server directories, providing the invitation code required to access. When you choose some of the servers shown, they automatically send the invitation, so to advance you must press the blue button “Accept invitation”, after passing the Captcha test.
  4. Return to the main user menu and click on the added servers located on the left margin of the screen, in order to explore the different available chats.
  5. Alternatively, on the left side of the menu there is the “Explore Public Servers” button, which has the compass icon and is located below the “+” button . This button leads to a new portal where Discord directly offers the different public servers of its global community.
  6. To finalize the access to the selected server, press the button “Join the server” located in the lower central part, or press the blue button at the top called, in this case, “Join Monstercat”.

How to create a server

  1. In the main menu of the user profile, press the “+” button
  2. Press the blue button on the right side “Create a server”.
  3. Name the server in the text space of the window, and if desired, add an image from the local disk by clicking on the blue circle.
  4. Preliminarily customizing the server, you must press the blue “Create” button.
  5. A window will appear that will contain the invitation of the created server, which must be disseminated among the group of contacts. To prevent the invitation link from expiring, select the box in the bottom bar of the window, and to configure it press the button with the gear icon.
  6. On the right side of the screen there is a column with the list of text channels and voice channels of the server. To add more channels of any type, just press the “+” icon .
  7. Choose between text channel or voice channel, write in the text space the name of the channel and press the “Create channel” button.
  8. The server can be configured by displaying the compressed menu by pressing the arrow.
  9. In the “Server Settings” option you will find the advanced configurations that can be made to the server, from changing the name and the image to the server spreadsheet, and even the option to delete the server.

Alternatives

Discord is the platform of choice for the majority of the gamer community in the world, even so, it is widely used as a center of convergence to create communities where various topics and topics are touched. To a lesser extent, it is also used by smaller groups to establish voice and video channels, where continuous communication can be maintained. There are many platforms of this kind on the internet,  among the most frequently used alternatives on the web are the following.

Skype

Skype is one of the great known globally, especially in the field of video calls. Although it has found its way into different systems such as Windows or Xbox, its large data consumption does not make it too feasible for use during long games of video games, but it does make it an excellent option for informal sessions or professional video conferencing, where it offers good quality video and an integrated chat.

TeamSpeak

TeamSpeak has been one of the great favorites for the world of videogames since its inception, to use the services of this application it is necessary to download it on a computer or your own device. It guarantees fluency in voice transmissions with low latency and offers high sound and video quality. To acquire your own servers that give power to the services it is necessary to pay an annual fee.

Mumble

Mumble is a fairly competitive platform within the inventory of VoIP transmission applications, it has excellent audio quality and its use is completely free. It has an authentication system that prevents the entry of unknown people to a chat room, as well as offers encryption for text conversations.

Mixer

Mixer consists of an innovative platform to transmit streams, it is a competitive option for users who are dedicated to sharing content such as gameplays, edited videos, music and others through social networks. Its main attraction is its ability to interact during broadcasts by sending text, emojis and even voting.

Steam Chat

Steam Chat is a totally free platform, with various options similar to Discord, it allows to generate URL links for the attachment of different members, as well as the assignment of different roles for those users that make up a chat group, unlike other similar services, offers the ability to be used on the web without the need for a prior download.

Advantages and disadvantages

Discord is an application that has gained popularity and prestige from satisfying the connectivity and communication demands of the gamer community with online multiplayer games, which attracted other communities eager for efficient and friendly online communication means. However, this application has certain flaws that tarnish the social experience of users. Therefore, Discord is an application that has both advantages and disadvantages, among which the following stand out:

Advantage

  • It allows to establish low latency communications by having eleven data centers distributed globally.
  • Free application that allows the creation of voice chats supported by dedicated servers, being compatible with the main operating systems used in the world, be it Windows, MacOS, iOS or Android.
  • It facilitates the development of routine actions in chats through bots, which are programmed to carry out certain actions authorized by the user.
  • It allows to manage the permissions of the chat members and other configurations to regulate the activities in the created servers.

Disadvantages

  • The quality of communications is limited, leaving users much to be desired. This is the main aspect in which the competition beats you, for example, Skype and Google Hangouts.
  • The paid version has caused new elements of the application to be restricted.
  • There is a risk of accidental failure of personal calls or video calls.

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