Why does everyone like Discord? Design is the answer

Why does everyone like Discord? Design is the answer

What is Discord and why is it having so much success? Here are the reasons that make this messaging app born for gamers so popular

Philosopher specialized in Epistemology and Cognitivism, professor of Philosophy and History


Jason Citron has always had in mind to change the world of gaming, giving it a more social and community direction. In 1015 he proposed a video game entitled Hammer & Chisel that did not receive the hoped-for favors and so he decided to totally revolutionize the initial goal. He fired the programmers and saved only the chat section of the game structure: Discord was born was born . This messaging app born for gamers, during the pandemic had an exceptional boom, welcoming users beyond gaming interests.

But what is it that makes Discord fascinating, what differentiates it from text chats and forums, and why this boom? The pandemic? The audio? Or is there something else?

Copyright TechPlanet.today

Index of topics

Discord, structure and features

Its structure is similar to that of Slack, usually used by teams of workers. There are various rooms , typically called servers, that you can access through your account. There you can write, call, chat via audio. We hold together on the basis of specific passions and rules shared on the server. Discord is not just a tool to create communities of interest, on the contrary, it is often chosen as a virtual place to continue an existing offline attendance. This app is often chosen by kids, who organize private groups of friends only. In short, sometimes the bonds are born on Discord and are also finalized offline, other times the relationships that already exist in the daily context also expand in this virtual space.

Among the features that have made Discord so popular with gamers is the fact that we can communicate through the software at the same time as our gameplay sessions. This is a big plus for co-op game gamers . Furthermore, the fact that the service has low latency and is free makes it an optimal solution for every user. Beyond these features, certainly greedy for gamers, I wonder what made the app so popular beyond the gamer niche.

Its structure has the appeal of forums , with a plus that seems to have been essential in the recent phases of web 2.0, before the announcement of the Metaverse : I am referring to the possibility of hearing the voices of other users in conversation with us and therefore to the moving the internet to the ear canal. We have seen the boom of podcasts, voice assistants and social media like Clubhouse and, indeed, this.

Currently Discord has no ads and makes money through Nitro - a subscription service that offers additional features like custom emojis and HD videos. It is also possible for users to let their servers become paid rooms, allowing the company to keep a percentage of the price. Users can customize their servers by deciding the rules and applying them independently. In addition, it is possible to add background music: this feature is extremely interesting, it allows you to agglutinate the members of the group on the same concept of beauty, one of the strongest ways to create solid bonds.

What we find on Discord

On Discord you can find everything: servers for academics, specific places for education, school clubs, communities of artists, on science and technology, spaces that gather citizens of a province to facilitate neighborhood knowledge and for sharing events and new openings.

To answer my curiosity, that is why Discord appeals to non-gamers, I prepared a questionnaire that I administered to some groups on the social network founded by Citron. In particular, I signed up to Japanese philosophy and culture servers and asked the admins to be able to post my Google Form without being banned. You have to stick to the rules: spam or off-topic are always unwelcome.

To my questions if they had started the adventure on Discord motivated by gaming, the answers were divided into 50% between those who entered for this reason and those who instead chose to connect immediately to be part of other groups of interest. Some of them logged into Discord simply to chat with their circle of friends, after which they found the video game forums they had on Reddit, joining them from here as well. Others, on the other hand, have kept their non-gamer profile, participating in servers of another nature, or small or related to themes of philosophy and conscience.

In fact, they all replied that the primary motivation for taking action on Discord is the social need to make friends (and the resulting dopamine). In particular, an answer can make us understand how much the web may have helped in this historical moment of distance. Beyond the easy real-virtual dualisms and the Luddite and apocalyptic battles that still simplify the situation, misunderstanding the real source of the problems, internet, distance learning, have allowed people to work, to train, to socialize despite everything. And it is precisely “despite everything” that is the key to understanding the role of digital tools in this exceptional moment. One participant then replies to me the following: "It's my only social outlet, and I don't see any changes until the Omicron wave subsides."

To my question if they had ever continued close friendships on Discord even live they replied that sometimes it happened, it depended on how long it had been, on the degree of trust that had been consolidated and, last but not least, on geography. Other participants told me that on Discord they found friends they already knew offline and that chatting on the servers with them led them to meet them again even outside the software. In short, it is as if the app were to rediscover lost contacts: "I find that Discord has the ability to ignite new friendships and nurture old ones". Another user confesses to me that on large servers, those with more than 100 members, it has never happened to meet even outside, while with small groups it is common to forge bonds destined to develop even live.

A user, again, identifies as the dominant reason for existing on Discord the need to expand their online presence and to discuss topics that interest them . In fact, if I were to continue my adventure on Discord, I would probably do it to have an extra channel where I can exist on the web, an additional tool through which to make myself known, to spread what I am dealing with and to further deepen the areas of my interest.

The reasons behind the Discord boom

Compared to forums and other messaging spaces, the flexibility to change "room" and switch between different contents and modes of interaction is an important feature for all participants in the questionnaire. This is what differentiates it from other communication social networks. “It's not so much a messaging app as it is a miniature bulletin board. It is not like a normal group chat because the additional channels and its formality can create a community in ways that a text channel (group chat) cannot. " In short, it is the design of Discord that facilitates a strong sharing of interests, experiences and the creation of bonds, which, for example, Telegram cannot do.

“I appreciate the interaction with almost all elements of the app. I prefer it to Snapchat and Instagram as I can copy messages, react to them, quote / reply; Plus, sharing photos and videos is much easier. I like the ease of accessing and moving between channels and servers, where swipes and taps can take you anywhere. Voice chats are also an interesting feature ”. Again the structure of the app, its voice functions, ease of use are what have made the difference, turning Discord into a place frequented by millions of users every day. The pandemic has helped, gaming as well, but perhaps, as the participants in the questionnaire admit, it is the design, the fact that it is "user-friendly", the decisive aspect: "The appearance of the board made it so popular. It's a very convenient stage (if that makes sense). The desktop app is also very good, so that probably helps. "

It must be said that some users appreciate the privacy that Discord allows to maintain compared to other social tools: no personal information is accessible, moreover Discord allows you to moderate very well, quickly changing and banning users who could in some way be disturbing. , this happens especially in small groups.


Some critical issues that have invested Discord concern precisely the toxic language , the presence of groups that violate the rules of the app and users who are under 13, the age limit allowed. As the platform grows larger, moderating and monitoring becomes more complex. It had recently surfaced that Slack and Discord were teeming with hackers and malware to steal sensitive data from users. The advice to defend oneself obviously remains that of not downloading anything, not even files and links that seem completely safe.

“There is some silly language on Discord,” admits one attendee. “But in the circles I frequent, she is relatively civilized. Anonymity can slowly be crushed by administrative powers and being active. Many people on the servers know each other . " In short, on Discord, thanks to anonymity, it is more likely to find harassing people, but it is also the wider freedom granted to mods and admins to ensure that Discord fights haters and trolls with greater incisiveness than elsewhere. On Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, every report often fails.

Self-surveillance of group members is a key factor. They can decide to enforce more or less flexible rules and, in case, each user remains free to decide to leave a group to enter spaces where the moderators' policy is shared the most. Finally, the constant attendance of a server leads the members to know each other more deeply, this ends up making anonymity and lightness useless to violate rules of conduct.

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