This week on the Think Like A Game Designer Podcast is the incredible Satine Phoenix:

Satine Phoenix is the first non-game designer on our podcast, but she is an icon in the gaming industry. Satine is a professional Dungeon Master and storytelling coach who supports people in regards to writing games, RPG adventures, screenplays, and novels. What’s even wilder is that she travels the world playing role-playing games and bringing gaming communities together. I can’t wait to dig into this episode.

Check out this episode and the previous ones here:

“I was thirty years old and thinking what is missing out of my life? Charity! I love Dungeons and Dragons. I love charity. We have all these celebrities, so how do I reach the most amount of people?” (7:18)

Satine starts off by telling us about her life playing Dungeons & Dragons and the impact of building communities where people can play. In regards to game design, community is the backbone of your ability to test and iterate on games (let alone the ability to sell them someday). Satine is the master of community building and has quite a few lessons to teach about adding value, starting small, and taking chances when it comes to this skill. You can find her charity here:

“Having people that people can identify with, that are public about their hobbies, that maybe they were shunned about, is just one of the most powerful I’ve ever seen in the world.” (11:00)

Satine runs quite a few streaming games, some dating all the way back to 2010. As streaming becomes more popular, Satine’s tips on how to utilize platforms like Twitch will be helpful for any designer looking to make their game popular. We explore what kinds of games will likely do best on streaming platforms, for designers who are creating games with streaming in mind.

“I’m kind of a psychology hobbyist, but it really helps as a game master.” (18:25)

Here Satine and I speak about non-violent communication and it’s value in understanding how to be a good game master. This isn’t the first time I’ve spoken with a guest about having a basic understanding of psychology in regards to game design and game mastering. Satine shares some of her awesome tips for game mastering. 

“I really had to develop who I am, and what I am so that the world could understand me.” (23:40)

In a world of social media and online marketing, branding is something that game designers need to learn about in order to grow their companies and get their games into the world. Satine has done an excellent job creating a brand for herself. Here she talks about how she developed her personal brand and reigned in all the different creative paths she had started on, into a focused path that has gained her success in the gaming industry.

“There’s more to a game than the players role-playing, there’s more to a game than its mechanics – It is an ecosystem, to create a full-blown story.” (38:50)

Satine and I spend time talking about a common passion for storytelling. All game designers need to be storytellers because every game is a story. Here we cover a lot of ground when it comes to developing stories for games. In addition, we go into detail about boiling down experiences into small mechanics. For example, how battling a Dragon can be boiled down into several D20 rolls, but how the experience remains vivid and unforgettable.

“From 2010 to 2018, when Dungeons & Dragons came to me and said,’We want you to be our community manager,’ until that point, I did not get paid for this.” (58:10)

When it comes to game design, you can start whenever you’re inspired to design, but there’s a lot of work that goes into making a career out of it. Here Satine and I go into detail about following your passions and working hard to reach your goals, seeing failure and success before turning it into a career.