In an online multiplayer game, communication is key. Until 2015, gamers relied on third-party applications such as TeamSpeak and Skype to talk or discuss in-game strategies. These software served the primary purpose, but had several issues ranging from lag, a barebones texting system, paid features, and an overall poor user interface. Most people hated using them but had no other options back then.
Enter, Discord – a new free app that enables high-quality voice, video and text conversation both in-game and out-of-the-box. The concept behind Discord came from Jason Citron, who initially wanted to build a social media network for mobile games. The idea quickly turned to online PC titles, in which the integrated communication system was not feasible enough. This led to the development of their own chat service, focused on usability and minimal impact on performance.
Today, Discord is the industry standard for communication in online gaming tournaments and eSports. Even people who weren’t really keen on games took notice of the app and started using it for their day-to-day tasks like making calls, video conferences or meetings, and even file sharing. In fact, Slack drew heavily on it. On Discord, you can add friends, create your own communities, host Watch Parties, and more. Here’s a quick rundown of all the cool features and tips that set Discord apart from other voice / video communication platforms.
How to use Discord?
Getting started on Discord is pretty straightforward. The software is available for free on Windows PCs and macOS by visiting the official website. Between the two variants – desktop and browser, we recommend that you choose the downloadable version as it has more features. On Android and iOS devices, you can download it from their respective app stores.
When registering, you will be asked to enter a username and the application will assign you a unique identifier (example – yourname # 0000). This number will then help you add the desired friends from a large pool of similar usernames.
Once on the home page, users can start conversations by clicking the Plus (+) button in the left pane. This opens the server prompt, where you have the choice of creating your own or joining an existing community. Let’s start by creating a server.
On the right side, you will see the server members and their activity status – online, offline, inactive, etc. The left side shows the general text and voice channels, above which you will see plus symbols. These allow you to add more channels, where members can hold informal discussions based on multiple topics. For example, groups for games, discussions about movies, cartoons, photos of food or pets, etc.
Inviting someone to your server is as easy as clicking the “Invite people” button. This creates a personalized invitation link, using which others can join. By default, this link expires in 7 days. But you can configure it to never expire by clicking the checkbox.
You can also join other public servers by pressing the compass button on the left side panel. This allows you to explore highly populated official communities. Using the search bar, you can find servers based on the topics or games you want and request to join. After approval, you can start conversations and add friends from this group. To join private servers, you’ll need the invite link I mentioned earlier.
Discord comes with a wide array of settings that let you customize its appearance, accessibility features, and even a Streamer Mode toggle that hides sensitive information from viewers.
Profile customization – By default, the User Profile tab allows you to define a custom avatar and enter a biography. In the Appearance section, you can set the font size, letter spacing, and a magnification slider that lets you adjust zoom levels. Discord also lets you add filters for NSFW content and offers several language settings, including Hindi.
Accessibility – For people with color blindness or some other form of disability, Discord has added a number of accessibility features. Users can adjust the color saturation according to their eye stress level or even listen to the text-to-speech version of a written message. It also features a “Reduced Movement” segment where people with motion sickness can turn off GIF movements or animated emojis.
Voice and video settings – Before making a call and tearing someone’s ear out, it is recommended that you test and adjust your mic sound. In voice settings, users can set their default input or output volumes and test the sensitivity of their microphone by speaking into it. The app instantly plays a recording of your voice. Plus, you have toggles for noise cancellation, echo cancellation, and the ability to enable push to talk.
If you don’t have a webcam, or if you refuse to show your face, you can choose from a set of video backgrounds, offered by Discord. If you want to use a custom one, you’ll need to purchase a Discord Nitro subscription (we’ll get to that below).
Streamer mode – If you’re streaming live on Twitch or YouTube, there’s a good chance you’ll end up leaking sensitive information like emails, phone numbers, or billing information. To prevent this from happening, Discord added a Streamer Mode toggle that hides all this data. A detailed setting also lets you choose between what information you want to display and even turn off notifications.
Discord Nitro is a paid subscription-based feature that adds more profile customization options, emojis, and powerful chat features. Priced at $ 9.99 (around Rs 750) per month, the feature allows you to style your profile with a banner and add an animated GIF avatar. You get access to 300 Nitro-exclusive stickers and the option to use custom backgrounds for video calls as well.
It also upgrades your screen sharing resolution from 720p by default to 1080p 60FPS, allowing you to host high definition sleepovers. File share size drops from 8MB to 100MB, while text chat character count rises to 4000. On top of that, you can choose custom tags, exclusive badge, and animated emojis. If you are a server owner, you can “boost” it to gain special perks such as more emoji slots and better audio quality.
Tips for Discord
Keyboard shortcuts – If you are a rigorous Discord user, hotkeys can be very helpful in getting things done quickly. To access it, you can simply head to the Keybinds tab in settings, where you’ll see a full list of keyboard shortcuts. Memorize the ones you use the most, or you can create your own.
QR code connection – If you find yourself in a situation where the Discord desktop app goes offline, or you’re trying to sign in from a new computer, the phone app should help. For some reason, the Discord app rarely disconnects from portable devices. So you can use the built-in QR code reader to scan and connect instantly.
Discord overlay – During intense situations in games, it can be difficult to check your Discord notifications or calls. By enabling in-game overlay, you won’t have to exit your running app to check them out. Each notification will appear in the corner of your screen, and if you don’t like it, you can turn it off in settings.
Windows Settings – Starter applications put a lot of strain on your RAM (Random Access Memory). It is therefore advisable to go to Windows settings and prevent Discord from launching at system startup.
Two-factor authentication – To protect your account against unauthorized access, it is strongly recommended that you enable two-factor authentication. Once configured, you will need to enter both your password and a passcode from your mobile phone (SMS) to log in.