Talking Gaming With Satine Phoenix, Part One

Satine Phoenix might be the most recognizable woman in the game industry. Her popular video series GM Tips, regularly has about 100,000 views per episode. She's a GM for D&D's official Twitch channel, where she co-created Maze Arcana and DMs the popular Sirens of the Realms stream, in addition to her career as a model. artist and cosplayer. She also created both DrawMelt and DnDMelt at Meltdown Comics in Hollywood, founded CelebrityChariD20 and co-created the graphic novel series New Praetorians, and among other projects. With so much going on and convention season starting, Satine was gracious enough to carve some time out of her busy schedule to talk about gaming.


As expected, Satine is a gamer through and through. "Gaming is in my blood," she said. "I've been obsessed with board, card and RPG games since I was a tiny elfling. Some of us are just wired for it."

As a multi-talented Renaissance woman, it would be easy for her work in art, comic books, etc. to dominate her schedule, but Satine makes time for gaming, on and off camera, for a very simple yet important reason. "It's all about Play," she said. "Creating stories whether it's in art or comics, novels or tabletop games, it's all equally play to me. Tabletop games are the best because I get to play with others. We make stories and adventure deep into new experiences as a team."

"As a player," Satine continued, "I enjoy being surprised and working out puzzles with my friends. As a GM I enjoy providing a playpen for my friends' imaginations. It is escapism, it's creativity in storytelling without the restraints a company puts on you, it's making new experiences, it's staying young. I'm in it for all of the reasons!"


The definition of a "good" game session can vary widely but at its core it's about creating an experience so since she's a celebrity GM it made sense to ask Satine how she tries to create a good session for public or private games. "I ask the players a lot of questions about their character and the team as a whole before the game even starts. I let the players tell me why they are together, other experiences their group has had, things they lost, how they worked through things together," she said. "It takes at least a half an hour of talking and coming up with backstory together to form a bond. The players are more attached to the experiences (instead of their characters) this way. They actually seem to be more willing to sacrifice themselves for one another when I use this method of pre-bonding."

When it comes to introducing new people to RPGs, Satine says, "There is not a one-size-fits-all method. As a GM, I find it works best to talk to the player and ask them what they want out of the game, what kind of expectations they have. After listening to them I explain how I approach the game and the table specific rules. Be clear with your expectations. Clear communication is the key to a happy table."

Gaming has been more than fun or a career for Satine. It's also been helping her heal from serious issues, as she's going to explain in her upcoming book, Mirror Into the Maze. "It's part autobiography, part workbook on how to overcome PTSD by playing D&D. It's my journey in overcoming my childhood trauma by creating the character that would allow me to defeat my own monsters from 8 years old into the woman I am today."

Speaking of women, Satine has some advice for women in the industry: "Do by doing. Don't let anyone tell you 'you can't' because the truth is: You can."

contributed by Beth Rimmels
 
Last edited:
Beth Rimmels

Comments

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
There are past jobs and there are past jobs that were having sex with people for money. You don't understand why some may view being a prostitute and being a coder as a bit different? Especially considering the harmful effects of porn on women and developing kids being bombarded with it.
I can completely see why someone can see them as different.

I don't see why either has relevance to judging the quality of someones work with Dungeons and Dragons however.

Edit: It turns out I have more to say!

I don't see a lot of people objecting on moral grounds. I see people saying essentially "That's a stupid name, sounds like a stripper name" with the implication that that person cannot possibly be capable of contributing to the hobby.

If you decide to not support another human being's work because it conflicts with your personal Moral code then I have no objection. I've certainly done that. But that's not what I'm seeing.

What I'm seeing is more of this person can't positive contribute to the hobby because of one or more of the following:

gender, level of attractiveness, prior career history, not having a name I recognize, having a name that implies something completely unrelated to the hobby.

None of the above is a good enough reason for me not to watch some youtube videos and formulate my own opinion on the person's contribution to the hobby.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
I can completely see why someone can see them as different.

I don't see why either has relevance to judging the quality of someones work with Dungeons and Dragons however.

Edit: It turns out I have more to say!

I don't see a lot of people objecting on moral grounds. I see people saying essentially "That's a stupid name, sounds like a stripper name" with the implication that that person cannot possibly be capable of contributing to the hobby.

If you decide to not support another human being's work because it conflicts with your personal Moral code then I have no objection. I've certainly done that. But that's not what I'm seeing.

What I'm seeing is more of this person can't positive contribute to the hobby because of one or more of the following:

gender, level of attractiveness, prior career history, not having a name I recognize, having a name that implies something completely unrelated to the hobby.

None of the above is a good enough reason for me not to watch some youtube videos and formulate my own opinion on the person's contribution to the hobby.
Fair enough.
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
The US religious right tends to view pornstars as "morally bankrupt." Along with prostitutes, exotic dancers, and brothel owners.

The term used will be that she's either "exhibiting Moral Turpitude" or is "Morally Bankrupt" because she saw porn as a viable job option.

I doubt it will fire a new "moral panic" on a nationwide scale, but it certainly can in many a small town.

A not uncommon situation in the US is:
Kid buys game. Parent sees game. Parent sees Jack Chick tracts at church. Kid argues the virtues, shows parents public presence of Satine. Parents search Satine, and find her porn background, find it confirms their misinformed theories, and punish kid even worse, possibly leading to exorcisms and/or beatings.

I've seen similar happen in the past, on a local scale, without the porn performers involved.

Given that there are still towns in the US which ban playing card games or dice games on sundays....
 

Mistwell

Legend
The US religious right tends to view pornstars as "morally bankrupt." Along with prostitutes, exotic dancers, and brothel owners.
There are also a fair number of feminists on the left who, for different reasons, come to the same conclusion. They feel the sex industry contributes to misogyny.
 
I am cherrypicking my favourite 2 bits of this short article:

The players are more attached to the experiences (instead of their characters) this way.
Being attached to your character is not wrong, but I think we have all seen plenty of gamers who behave as if all they care is their character in a vacuum, either the character's functional design (the "build") or narrative design, and see everything around (the rest of the party, the fantasy world, the adventures) as mere accidents that only serve the purpose to enable design improvements. I believe that striving to focus more on what happens to the characters can make the game more relaxed, more social, and more enjoyable to everyone.

Be clear with your expectations.
Ditto. Probably almost all problems at the table can be related to different players having different expectations. Making those clear before the game even starts goes a long way towards avoiding problems.
 

Olrox17

Explorer
Sure, the first thing I thought when I heard her name was: "That sounds like the name of a pornstar"... and much to my surprise apparently she does have a history in porn.... but so what? Dungeons and Dragons is a hobby for everyone.
Not gonna lie, this is the first thing I thought when I saw the name and photo. I was feeling like a scumbag for thinking that, and had a good chuckle when I realized my gut feeling was correct. Immature, I know.

For anyone who cares, I did some, erm, research, and it's not like she's a big name in the porn scene. More like a dabbler. Or a multiclass, in D&D terms!
 

Imaculata

Adventurer
For anyone who cares, I did some, erm, research, and it's not like she's a big name in the porn scene. More like a dabbler. Or a multiclass, in D&D terms!
As a side note, there's plenty of famous Hollywood actors who have dabbled in porn. But I don't think we'd hear any negative comments if Sylvester Stallone became an ambassador for D&D tomorrow.

So I can't help but feel there's some what of a double standard here.

As others have already pointed out, it shouldn't really matter concerning your love for D&D. Regardless of your profession, whether you're a (porn)actress, a mechanic, a software engineer, or maybe even unemployed... what does it matter? We all love D&D the same way. And I don't see how any of this should have any bearing on what we have to say about our favorite hobby.

I think we should consider ourselves blessed that more and more women show an interest in D&D, and that we're getting rid of this silly "male nerds in a basement" stereotype that has surrounded role playing games for such a long time.
 

Olrox17

Explorer
As a side note, there's plenty of famous Hollywood actors who have dabbled in porn. But I don't think we'd hear any negative comments if Sylvester Stallone became an ambassador for D&D tomorrow.

So I can't help but feel there's some what of a double standard here.

As others have already pointed out, it shouldn't really matter concerning your love for D&D. Regardless of your profession, whether you're a (porn)actress, a mechanic, a software engineer, or maybe even unemployed... what does it matter? We all love D&D the same way. And I don't see how any of this should have any bearing on what we have to say about our favorite hobby.

I think we should consider ourselves blessed that more and more women show an interest in D&D, and that we're getting rid of this silly "male nerds in a basement" stereotype that has surrounded role playing games for such a long time.
Indeed. In other news, she apparently hates 4e D&D very much. Now, there's an actual good reason to bring on harsh judgments on her! :mad:

I actually like fourth edition... :(
 

Gradine

Final Form
There are also a fair number of feminists on the left who, for different reasons, come to the same conclusion. They feel the sex industry contributes to misogyny.
Basically, any position you could possibly take on porn within mainstream feminism (including taking no position at all) is complicated and controversial. There is, after all, such a thing as "feminist porn". And, indeed, a number of feminists who would argue that such a thing could never actually exist.

That said, to correct a misconception from upthread, porn is not prostitution, and people who engage in porn are not prostitutes. The generally accepted catch-all term is "sex worker", and again, opinions vary on whether any or all forms of sex work are inherently demeaning to women or if it is possible for sex work, in any or all its forms, to be empowering. A lot of this centers around how one feels re: "sex positivity".

Steering things a bit back on topic, but Satine seems to be a fairly self-assured both in herself and in her past (if nothing else, she's taken no pains to hide her background at all, given she's still using the same stage name), so there's really no cause for a reasonable person to take exception to her because of it. How unreasonable people are bound to react is increasingly becoming less of a concern... this is not the America of the moral panic of the 80's, nor even the immediate aftermath of Columbine in the late 90's. Some politician trotted out the whole "blame violent video games" thing as an excuse for the recent school shooting in Florida and basically nobody took it seriously. Yes, there is still the Bible Belt and similar pockets scattered throughout small-town America, and my heart goes out to any child feeling trapped in such a situation or unable to freely express who they are, whether that ranges from gender/sexual identity to simply enjoying something like D&D or Harry Potter (my partner spent time in Washington, that bastion of left-coast liberalism, being raised by people who forbid her from watching Buffy). I can see how a former porn star being an enthusiastic face of D&D might make it more difficult to create change for the better in situations like that; I can't see how it would make things any worse.
 

thzero

Community Supporter
You are severely underestimating the size of that "youtube and/or podcasts" world.
No, actually I'm not. Its quite sizeable. But the point was that youtube/podcast/etc are big, yes, but its not the totality of the population of those that game.

I wouldn't necessarily agree with the superlative either but it also wouldn't be wrong to say that she's a significant and extremely popular individual within the industry.
Got facts to actual back that up? Until the other day I hadn't heard of her at all.
 

Gradine

Final Form
Got facts to actual back that up?
Her D&D youtube videos tend to average between 50k-70k, with some going up to 200k; even her actual play videos (like Maze Arcana or Sirens of the Realm) tend to pull in a couple thousand each. Again, clearly not the biggest name in D&D, but it would be a stretch to call that not significant. She also has writing credits on that Further Xanathar's Notes book that recently dropped.

Until the other day I hadn't heard of her at all.
My point being that you specifically might not be fully representative the totality of the population of those that game either.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Until the other day I hadn't heard of her at all.
If you're defining "significant" as "the totality of those who game" (which is what it seems you are) then there's no such thing as a significant person. The concept doesn't exist by that definition. Even world leaders and A-list actors haven't been heard of by the *totality* of the population. "Significant" doesn't mean "heard of by the totality of the population", or even "heard of by thzero". :)
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Indeed. In other news, she apparently hates 4e D&D very much.
Well I love her even more! I started watching her years back because of her Eberron videos (my fav setting ever for D&D). I don't care about her past, you can see how much she loves D&D and that means more to me than anything.
 

In Our Store!

Advertisement

Latest threads

Advertisement

Top