The Dephion Games: Behind the Scenes
The second edition of the Dephion Games took place last October 7. You remember, don’t you? Everyone did survive, didn’t they? And while every Dephioneer that attended can probably recount a dozen stories from that day in a single breath, not everyone knows what it took to make it happen. Let’s fix that.
Choosing the theme and the team
Like all great ideas, this one was born from passion. Brooke, an all-time fan of reality TV shows like Survivor, and Netflix’s South Korean drama Squid Games, saw his chance to make the second installment of The Dephion Games the greatest most thrilling challenge Dephioneers had yet faced. But also, the most fun. “I saw the opportunity to build anticipation (and anxiety!) surrounding some looming challenge that awaited the participants, an overarching mystery vibe, and a growing air of anxiety and dread. And presto! We have our storytelling stakes.”
In the meantime, Balou sat down across from Igor, who put her in charge of the operation because she’s a boss and he knows it. It would be up to her to find the venue for the event. She needed a place that could host a small army of Dephioneers, expansive enough for outdoor activities, and fancy enough for an evening party. Challenge accepted.
At this time, Brooke and Balou were also neck-deep in work for Gamescom. It was there that they enlisted Christina’s help, not only was she creating visuals for the event, but she would become an invaluable partner that would bring in more ideas and her already famously keen attention to detail. “Being an artistic person, I could see all the necessary little details still needed. I'd never arranged this kind of big event before but I felt confident that with this team we could make it work.”
How to build tension
Leading up to the day of the event, a series of dark and fear-inspiring teasers were revealed to Dephioneers to psych them up a bit before the big day. Brooke and Georgy masked up and performed as the “overseers”.
Naturally, they also enlisted the scariest person in Dephion to deliver the final message: Igor. Brooke recounts what it was like to film the shorts: “We had originally planned on his creepy-cool 'welcome' speech to be played on the bus to the venue, along with looping music from the Squid Games over the PA system. But when that fell through, having his technicolor mask and pitched-down narration play on the big screen to kick things off was the PERFECT alternative.“
Challenges and backup plans
But was it too much tension? Between the narrative and the incredible work of the video team, people may have actually started to fear for their lives. “Our initial teaser vids and messaging campaign seemed to genuinely frighten some folks...so much so that we might have lost a team's worth of participants due to safety concerns for body, mind, and spirit!” Brooke says.
Don’t worry folks, we’d never ask you to do anything actually dangerous…
Non-dangerous shooting practice at The Dephion Games II
As for having a plan B in case of inclement weather? There really wasn’t one besides a stock of 80 rain ponchos. Which, sure, might have made a few activities a little more challenging…but what doesn’t kills us makes us stronger, amirite?
Balou remembers some intriguing comments from the staff at the venue, “[They] said, ‘you're not an average company right?’ Because we have the craziest ideas and we want to do stuff that other companies wouldn't do.”
On October 7
Brooke’s vision came to life in the delivery of three acts. First, a Welcome phase for all the competitors. Second, the Warfare stage where small teams faced off in bloody—that is, friendly “battle”. And the third act: Survival. “A sense of narrative was always part of the event's DNA. In fact, this was why we pushed so hard for the Belgian video crew to document and edit the highs and lows of the day live — so everyone could re-experience their collective journey at day's end.”
Now, let’s give additional credit where credit is due, and that goes to Bogdan for supervising the Belgian crew and ensuring we had a video worthy of Dephion.
The Dephion Games II ended with a semi-elegant evening party that went just as smoothly as the day’s activities… except for the part where we forgot to take photos. But we swear it did happen!
With the gift of hindsight, would the team’s storyteller have done anything differently?
“Hmmm...other than having the presence of those either ill or remote or on vacation? I think it might've been nice to set up a series of speaker towers and a smart PA at the venue itself, so we could've executed a 'soundtrack' for the event much more effectively than we did (ie: barely at all - one janky Bluetooth speaker just couldn't cut it).
“And for the big finale, it soon became clear how incredibly COMPETITIVE our Dephioneers are...so I shouldn't have been so shy about making some 'grittier' challenges. Especially on the water!”
So, there is something yet to look forward to for next year…“Oh, there are ideas....don't you worry about that. More Mystery. More Mayhem. More money, if possible,” Brooke laughs, probably evilly since he typed “LOL” in all caps.
So secretive. So unfair.
We only know that, if Balou has anything to say about it, she’ll make sure to ask herself: is it Dephion enough? “I always try to make things next level, because I think Dephion isn't a regular employer. That's why we don't do events like a 'normal' company.”
In the end, everyone on the team only has positive things to say about their colleagues.
Brooke said, “Balou and Christina were both so incredibly positive, supportive, resourceful, and professional (which means they pretty much made up for all of my glaring weaknesses, and then some!). I'd team up with both again in a heartbeat.”
Balou said, “Brooke was responsible for the story. He knows how to build up a narrative and that is inspiring. Christina is very creative and knows how to think outside of the box.”
And Christina added, “Brooke really put a lot of effort into the storytelling of the day and I really think he nailed that! Balou is just the person who always makes sure everything is on track and everything gets taken care of!”
With a little help from Jody, and Rebeka (who had just joined us), they each used their strengths in storytelling, resourcefulness, and attention to detail, to arrange the most unforgettable and absolutely EPIC event in Dephion history.