There’s yet another kerfuffle in the RPG Twitterverse, but when isn’t there? This time it’s around various alleged behaviour and unprofessionalism from Satine Phoenix and Jamison Stone. Now, I don’t know Jamison from Adam, but Satine I do know – at least a bit – and these allegations do not sound like her.
Of course, finding professionalism in the RPG industry is like finding stripes on a leopard. It’s a hobby industry and runs on goodwill and handshakes, for the most part. It’s low pay, low appreciation and – increasingly – a very hostile place to work. You do it for the love and, like many creative industries, you’re lucky to be paid at all, let alone on time.
The initial issue seems to have been over tattoos, and the intellectual property involved, along with the related contract. Having been boned by contracts in the past (Munchkin) and having seen how people freak out over the wording of Facebook’s terms of service: “THEY’RE GOING TO STEAL YOUR CONTENT!” it’s hard to get worked up about this one.
A lot of the rest seems to be down to mismatched expectations between the RPG industry and the rest of the entertainment industry. Someone involved seems to have higher expectations of the hobby in terms of celebrity treatment and someone else seems to have lowered expectations.
Some of the behaviour seems to be truly assholish, but a lot of these claims are coming from people who I know to be proven arseholes. The kinds of people purity-spiralling the RPG industry into oblivion and finding any excuse to ‘cancel’, berate and be horrible to anyone – yours truly included. None of them have ever cared about what’s true in the past, so I find that I ‘haz a suspicious’ whenever they turn on anyone.
Like I said, I don’t really know Jamison at all, but Satine I do.
Back during the ‘I Hit it With My Axe’ days, Satine – and the others involved – were frequently attacked by both social conservative types and so-called progressives due to their involvement in adult/sex work. This always struck me as obviously wrong and regressive and I felt that the whole group were doing a lot of positive things for the image of RPGs and the creativity involved.
Later, in 2013, I offered Satine work on Machinations of the Space Princess, doing the cover and much of the interior art. I couldn’t pay very much (being an indie creator) but Satine was nothing but professional, grateful and accommodating throughout the process of doing the work. Her celebrity and brand took off after that and we didn’t really get the opportunity to work together again, but I would have had no hesitation in doing so and would do so again.
Some years later we had the opportunity to meet up when Satine travelled to London on a whistle-stop your while working for Wizards of the Coast as their community liaison. I felt a little like a tag-along through the whole thing, but people weren’t coming to the meet-ups to see me and during the whole visit, Satine was nothing but gracious, thankful and compassionate with me and her many fans who turned up to meet her. Satine and her companions covered my lunch, seemed glad of the company and I was made to feel welcome and wanted – even if it was just to hang out.
The only fly in the ointment of our friendship was following the UK Games Expo controversy a couple of years back when I stood up for someone else being spuriously accused of various terrible things. For the awful crime of giving an accused man a platform to defend himself I was – again – subjected to attack, and amongst those attacks was a concerted effort to get various friends to disown me. Satine was amongst those targeted by the mob and she, sadly, gave in to the pressure.
I can understand why. It is a lot of pressure to be put under, but the people doing that were many of the same people going after her now. It doesn’t seem like they can ever be appeased, and trying to do so seems like a fool’s errand. Little wonder then, that I’m suspicious of these accusations now, though they do seem to be undeniably consistent and profligate, so I’m beginning to wonder.
Whatever the case, in this feeding frenzy that’s going on it’s worth noting that Satine was never anything but professional, grateful and compassionate with me – or anyone else I saw her interact with. If anything has changed, it’s recent. Everyone deserves a chance, and I’d rather be trusting and forgiving than the alternative.
Whatever anyone has done or hasn’t done, it’s not acceptable to drag them for their past or their tattoos. Be better.