Discord is an online chat client application utilised by users to connect with online gaming communities. Over nine-hundred million messages are sent per day through the application, and it has over fifty-six million monthly users (Discord, n.d.). Discord is a platform which has aided in the formation of new gaming communities online. Discord has helped gamers to build new communities by making it easy to connect with other communities and users and having a simple to use chat client.
When discussing the impact of a platform on the creation of communities, it is important to first define what a community is. The definition of a community is widely debated in scholarly circles, with many propositions of what criteria must be met to form a community. Depending on the perspective the scholar chooses to view the concept of ‘community’ from, the requirements of a community may change, and thus their definition changes. Kendall cites definitions with varying criteria based upon a focus on business, relationships, or the design of an online forum (Kendall, 2011). However, the criteria most appropriate to be applied to virtual gaming communities is the definition proposed by Ridings and Gefen, which states that a community is required to meet three criteria; “shared interests or goals,” a “sense of permanence,” and an adequate “frequency” of interaction (Ridings and Gefen, 2006, as cited by Kendall, 2011). Every gaming community shares the same interest in games, and often a community will share an interest with one particular game; examples of this include the various online forums established for particular games, such as the Overwatch Forums. Gaming communities can also be formed around a certain type of content, rather than a certain game; For example, Nexus Mods is an online gaming forum dedicated to the modification (or ‘modding’) of popular games. The sense of permanence can be established by having a permanent location where the community may meet, such as the aforementioned forum websites, or a Discord server. The frequency of interaction comes from members of the groups interacting with each other in these spaces. An interpersonal definition with a high focus on the relationships between members does not suit gaming communities, simply because the size of some gaming communities makes it impossible for all members to have an interaction with each other.
Connecting with Others
Discord allows users to easily connect to other communities and members of these communities. Discord gives users “the convenience of being able to interact with different communities” (Janae, 2019) easily, which is something users “did not find in other applications” (Janae, 2019). The ability to seamlessly move between different “servers” on Discord allows users to have an active presence and connect with several communities at once. Any user can create their own server to build a community in, and Discord gives users the power to moderate their own spaces (Hellinga, 2019). Discord also allows game developers to create their own servers which can become verified by Discord – examples include the official Path of Exile and Geometry Dash Discord servers (“Verified Discord Servers | Discord Server List”, n.d.). This allows users to easily connect to other users who play the same games and have similar interests. By allowing users to easily connect to other users with common interests, create their own servers, and engage with several communities at once, Discord is helping to form new online communities amongst gamers.
Simplicity of the Platform
Discord also helps gamers to form communities by being a platform which is easy to use. Discord is described as “having most features its competitors have, and even more” (Janae, 2019). Discord seeks to combine several features of its competitors, giving users more ways to chat. Discord “is both a text and voice application” (Hellinga, 2019), and “users can be assigned roles, which allow or deny access to certain threads” (Hellinga, 2019). Furthermore, when Janae interviewed users of Discord, they reported that Discord “is a more comprehensive solution, incorporating social media linkage, voice chat, text chat, private messaging, all of the above” (Janae, 2019) and that it “has a user-interface that’s very friendly, and not as intensive as” competing platforms users had used previously (Janae, 2019). By being easy to use and combining the functionality of several of its competitors, Discord has brought over two-hundred and fifty million users to the platform (Discord, n.d.). By creating an easy to use platform with all the features of their competitors, Discord has drawn gamers together to one platform, where they can form new communities together.
By allowing users to easily connect to other communities and giving users a platform with easy to use functionality, Discord has help to form new gaming communities online. Discord allows users to connect to several communities at once, create their own servers, and connect to other users with similar interests, which helps build new communities. Additionally, Discord has drawn users to the platform by being easy to use and having all the features of its competitors, which results in the creation of new online gaming communities.
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Hellinga, T. (2019). Build your own community on Discord. Retrieved 12 April 2020, from https://mastersofmedia.hum.uva.nl/blog/2019/09/22/build-your-own-community-on-discord/
Janae, M. (2019). Discord and the Harbormen Gaming Community. Retrieved 12 April 2020, from https://mayajanae.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Discord-and-the-Harbormen-Gaming-Community.pdf
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Verified Discord Servers | Discord Server List. Retrieved 13 April 2020, from https://top.gg/servers/list/verified