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In praise of Discord for making quarantine connections

During quarantine, many of us are separated from our friends, as well as from our social rituals like game nights and family dinner. Discord is an invaluable resource for connecting with friends over long distances, and it is one that my friends and I have been using long before the quarantine for our group chat, due to its capacity to easily accommodate up to 250,000 IOS or Android users on one server. (In stark contrast, iMessage group can can only accomodate 50 users.)

Discord is an application that allows users to create and join servers, which are essentially group chats. However, Discord servers provide much more functionality than an ordinary group chat. While you can send text and images, you can also use emojis to react to messages and assign roles to group members. A discord server also provides additional complexity with channels, which are servers-within-servers. These channels function the same way as group chats, and only the person who started the server can make them. For instance, on the server my friends and I use, we have a general chat channel, a channel for pictures of pets, and a channel for our games of Dungeons & Dragons. 

Discord also allows you to easily change the name you are shown as in every server you are in, while in an ordinary group chat your name will show up as whatever your friends have you listed in their phone. Discord servers also have voice channels as well as text channels. With a click of a button, you can be on a voice call with your friends in addition to chatting with them over text.

Discord also allows you to DM users who you have “friended” on a server. In DMs, which can be for groups as well, you can make audio calls and video calls with multiple people. My friends and I have found this feature to be particularly useful because of its screen sharing option. This allows us to watch movies or TV shows together over Discord, or to play online games that require everyone to see the host’s screen.

Jackbox offers plenty of games on Steam that people can play virtually. One user must purchase and host the game, while other users log on to on their browser and put in a game code. Jackbox works similarly to the educational tool Kahoot, which many Gen Z students will be familiar with. Similar and free, pretend you’re xyzzy offers a virtual clone of Cards Against Humanity, on which a host can create a game (with or without a password) and friends can join. While this game doesn’t require screen sharing, the voice channel feature on Discord is useful for patching in friends.

While Jackbox and Cards Against Humanity represent only a fraction of the activities that are conducive to a virtual friendship, with Discord at your disposal, you can access a world of possibilities for connecting with friends during quarantine.