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Discord shows off Stages discoverability features, push for inclusivity

Discord's upgrading its "Stage Channels" feature to help server owners attract new audiences and making a vocal push toward more inclusivity on the online communications platform.

Today online communications platform Discord rolled out a new set of features and company strategy showcasing a new (but familiar) direction after a year of pandemic-adjacent growth.

In a press conference held on Discord earlier this week, CEO and co-founder Jason Citron and colleagues used the new “Stage Channels” feature to announce the tweaked direction. The company reported that as of 2021, 78 percent of Discord users reported using the platform for non-game purposes, hosting communities based on gardening, book clubs, comedy clubs and more.

(Some context: Discord does say that number is a combination of users who say they use it exclusively for non-game purposes, and users who use it equally for gaming and non-game purposes.)

Citron’s presentation came with two announcements that might impact how developers interact with  the platform.

First, Stage Channels (also known as Stages) are getting a visual upgrade and dedicated space on the platform to help communities market themselves to interested users. After social media platform Clubhouse saw some mid-pandemic hype of creating curated voice rooms to host speakers, performances, or discussions, platforms like Twitter and Discord recently rushed to add their own variants of the platform’s core tech.

On Discord, Stages will now have a dedicated discovery space where users can peruse different Stages, and have a quick path to join the servers hosting them.

If you need an example for how game companies might use this, a studio could host a panel with the game’s lead developers on the Stages feature, which would be featured on this new page alongside panels from other servers (like the one seen above).

Citron also announced that the platform was working on a ticketing system for these Stages, with more info on that feature to come down the line.

Second, Discord’s new marketing push comes with a loud, vocal effort that it’s consciously pushing for inclusivity on the platform. In the presentation, this came both with overtures toward the Black Lives Matter movement and Stop AAPI Hate, but Discord also told Gamasutra that it’s looking to keep hate off the platform through the continued employment of a number of a mix of proactive and reactive tools.

A company spokesperson explained that Discord is using a mix of automated search tools like PhotoDNA to knock down exploitative content while also working with community moderators to uphold platform policies.

“We’re becoming a more welcoming place for anyone to create belonging, and I hope in turn we’ll have game developers that are looking for their game communities to be more opening and welcome as well,” brand marketing manager Tory Grove said to Gamasutra.

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