“My kid plays way too much Steam, Discord, and Twitch. Should I encourage them to play other games?”
This was an actual question that I received from another parent, and it clearly demonstrates the confusion that parents are experiencing as they try to understand the world of online gaming.
Let’s Start with Steam and How It Is Used in the Gaming Community
For clarification, Steam is a gaming platform, not a game. If your child is gaming on Steam, they might be playing a wide variety of different games ranging from Dead By Daylight to Rocket League to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (aka CS:GO).
For my fellow adults, the best way to describe Steam is in the terms of old-school video arcades. When I was a kid, I would frequent an arcade called “Aladdin’s Castle” at the local mall. At Aladdin’s Castle, I would play games like Donkey Kong, Joust, Galaga, and Tron.
In modern-day terminology, Steam is simply the arcade and CS:GO is Donkey Kong. So, our kids are logging on to Steam so they can play their favorite games with friends. Just like we would “go to the arcade” and play Pac-Man, they go to Steam and play PUBG.
Similarly, the Xbox and PlayStation platforms are similar to Steam. A gamer can play Rocket League on an Xbox One, a PS4, or on Steam via their PC.
To make things just a bit more confusing, there are quite a few games that aren’t played on Steam. Games like Overwatch and Dauntless were never ported to Steam, so they have to be played on their independent platforms.
Other games like Rocket League and Deadpool were removed from Steam after years of success on the platform. Rocket League now is played on the Epic platform, and Deadpool was pulled from the platform after licensing issues.
The key, here, is to understand that while Steam is certainly one of the most popular gaming platforms out there, it isn’t the only place gamers go to play games.
So, What About Discord? Where Does That Fit into the Gaming Equation?
“Is Discord a game? My kid spends a TON of time on Discord.”
No. Discord is not a game. Rather, Discord is a communication tool used by a lot of gamers to chat while they are gaming.
They can use the utilities within Discord to create a friends list, see if their friends are online, share images and videos, and just carry on chats with each other. In the world of eSports, teams often use Discord as their communication channel while they are in the game. It allows them to coordinate gameplay, adjust their strategy, and help each other evaluate the other team.
NOTE: Discord is used by a lot of gamers, but it isn’t a gamer-exclusive tool. It can be used for variety of other uses, including screen-sharing and direct-messages. If you want to read a guide to Discord for parents, check out their blog post here.
OK. But What About Twitch? How Are They Using Twitch to Game?
Twitch is a streaming platform that allows Internet users to watch your gamer play. Basically, the gamer will start a Twitch session and begin broadcasting their gaming session. Anyone that chooses to tune in and watch their Twitch stream will be able to see them play the game live.
Just as you might watch a live football or basketball game on your local television channel, their friends and followers can watch them play a video game via their Twitch channel.
So, in summary, gamers play games on the Steam platform. They can communicate with their teammates and friends using Discord, and they can share their gaming session via their Twitch stream.
Make more sense?
I hope that clears up how Steam, Discord, and Twitch work in the world of online gaming and eSports. Let us know in the comments if there are additional gaming or eSports terms that we can help with.