Discord is a proprietary freeware instant messaging and VoIP application and digital distribution platform designed for creating communities ranging from gamers to education and businesses. Discord specializes in text, image, video and audio communication between users in a chat channel. Blah, blah, blah.
In other words, it is a place where you can text chat or voice chat with other people. It’s free, and you can start up a discord account with either the Discord app, or go to Discord.com and use it online.
For tabletop gaming, you’ll see it used a couple of ways. Conventions may use a Discord “channel” as their base gathering space, with different “rooms” where you can go for panels, information, or to use the audio services in conjunction with a game space like Tabletopia or Tabletop Simulator (we’ll get to those in a later post). You may also see it used for text based chat gathering areas to discuss that “rooms” topic. Video gamers will also often use Discord for their group audio.
If you are planning on doing any online gaming, it would be wise to have a Discord account. There are many helpful videos to get you started with an account. Unless you are planning to host an event, you won’t need your own discord channel. Once you have downloaded the app to your device, it will ask you to create a username, and ask you to enter your email and create a Discord password. (It is advisable to not use the same password as your email). Then click “register”. At this point, it will ask you to create your Discord channel. You don’t need to do this. You can go to the line that says “Have an invite already?” if you know what server you want to join. The admin of that server will need to give you access. If you are going to an event, your event admin should send you instructions on joining their server. In my experience, it is usually a link that you click that takes you right to that server.
Here are a couple screenshots of what you might see in a Discord server. One is from AnimeIowa and one is from GenCon. Both are post-convention so many of the options are grayed out. Once there, you can browse through the different “rooms” to see what is happening. Rooms will be text chat unless you see the word “voice” at the beginning. You should have been given directions or a link as to what “room” your event will be in if you purchased a ticket or signed up for the event.
The one thing you may need to supply to get access to an area is your username. This is the name you created when you made your account plus a four-digit code that Discord assigns you. You can find this in the bottom menu on discord. At the very right is a little mask looking icon. Your name and the number will show up at the top of the page. You don’t always need that, but it’s helpful to know where it is if you do.
A couple of points of protocol once you’re there. Stay on topic if you are in a text chat room, and keep your discussion civil and positive. If it is family oriented programming, make sure your comments are at least “PG”. For voice channels, make sure you are giving everyone a chance to speak. When you are at a table together, it’s easy to have side conversations and comments, but when everyone is speaking on the same level, those get distracting and it makes the game or conversation last much longer than it should and takes time away from the subject at hand. When you aren’t actively speaking, it’s wise to mute your microphone to make sure that the channel is clear of any background noises from various attendees. Especially if you are in the same room/house as another person in that room, as you can get a lot of feedback and echoing from your multiple microphones.
So that’s the basics for discord in regard to tabletop gaming. I hope that is helpful for other newbies out there.