How do you celebrate a memorable occasion and make an entire company feel a sense of solidarity in a pandemic-stricken world? Regardless of the industry, a company reaching its 15th year anniversary is a remarkable achievement. However, life in the new normal means minimal contact through social distancing and work-from-home arrangements. While this celebration certainly was not what we initially expected or prepared for, Secret 6 managed to provide a way to keep our sense of community despite the distance—divided by circumstance but united in spirit.
We’ve been posting about what 15 years of being in the game development industry has meant for us, and how we managed to thrive and grow through those years. While recounting our history and what makes Secret 6 tick helps set the overall context, we had to celebrate it in our own way—with a company-wide online party that was graced by our President and Founder, Ron Schaffner (even when it was 3am in San Francisco!).
No Proximity, No Problem: It’s a Virtual Party!
The title for the Secret 6 15 Year Anniversary celebration is “Divided but United.” In a world where social distancing and work from home is the norm, this was our way of instilling togetherness and belonging, even when we are presently working and staying apart. Through a company-wide Zoom conference call, organized through groups in our Discord channels, we set forth on the night of November 20th, Manila time, mid afternoon in Madrid, and way too early morning in San Francisco, to paint the virtual town red.
The 15th Anniversary Celebration had two main events. Secret Flix was a company-wide get together comprised of virtual games and group activities. After that, the culminating party, S6 and Chill, provided an opportunity to recognize and award not just winners in the bigger party games and the grand raffle, but also loyal employees who have hit their decade milestone at Secret 6.
Secret Flix: Streaming Party Vibes All Over the Place
Secret Flix was a collection of company-wide team activities that had been ongoing since September. Everyone across Secret 6 was assigned to one of ten teams. The first game, called Games, Parties, and Pixels, was played immediately after the September 11th Kick-off Meeting for the Anniversary event. It had teams filling in 5000-cell pixel painting that revealed the official logo and tagline of the event.
The next game, La Casa De Sais San Francisco, was a virtual escape room had 5 participants from each team complete a series of puzzles to uncover an underlying story. Utilizing Zoom for video calling, Discord for team communications, plus Google Forms and Figma for the puzzles, this competition had its participants fully engaged, tapping into their creativity and resourcefulness as they searched for clues all over the internet. Only one team managed to complete it on time, though, leading us to think that we may be too good at creating puzzle games (and not necessarily as good in solving them!)
On October 6th, a quiz show called The One with the Quiz challenged the teams’ general and trivia knowledge with questions on Pop Culture, Game Releases, Hardware and Peripherals, and “S6 Things”—any and everything related to the history, culture, projects, and leadership of Secret 6. This was a great and fun way to introduce the newest members of Secret 6 to details about our company and its ongoing story.
The showcase activity was called Secret Flix Eleganza Extravaganza, where each team created a themed group photo based on Netflix Original series or movie of their choice. This involved a lot of creativity as each team member had to craft their own costume to fit their team’s chosen theme. Doing it remotely also meant a bit of photo editing was involved, but only for backgrounds, lighting, and to get everyone (literally) on the same page. The end results were movie poster level spreads that highlighted the talent and character of the different people that comprise Secret 6.
For this portion of the competition, we were honored to be judged by an esteemed panel with the likes of Omz Velasco, Ryan Hale, Norm Badillo, and John Sicat, to name a few. They’re all accomplished game developers who have also contributed to the growth of S6 and its storied history. Everyone was excited to see the final entries of each team, as well as learn who would take home the crown later that night. Finally, a bonus game called the Flixtok Challenge had team leaders taking on a TikTok challenge of their choice to earn additional points for their teams. The participants were more than up to the challenge, submitting memorable clips for the Vogue, Wipe It Down, I’m Just A Kid and It Really Hurts challenges on the popular video-sharing platform.
S6 and Chill: Welcome to the After Party
The culmination of the festivities for Divided but United involved recorded performances by three talented secret 6 employees, Ivan Cervero, Jay Real, and Red Quito, plus the band Saving Sunday. One of the most important segments of the night was the recognition and awarding of seven Secret 6 employees who have been a part of our family for 10 years. These are the linchpins who, for a decade now, have helped create and mold our company into what it is today.
No party is complete without someone bringing home a big prize. To commemorate the recent release of the PlayStation 5 on the same month of our anniversary, we gave one away during our grand raffle!
As the scores for the team competition were announced and tabulated, everyone was excited to finally see the finished product of the Secret Flix Eleganza Extravaganza, as well as the clips from their team leaders’ FlixTok challenges.
At the end of the night, Team 10 was declared the Champion of this anniversary’s festivities. They were a mix of producers, designers, and members of the Internal Operations team, plus people from Accounting, IT and Marketing. Their triumph was a great example of the engaged team collaboration that was the spirit behind the activity. The team won cash and each member got to take home a limited edition Divided but United hoodie. Also as part of their prize, Secret 6 gave a charity donation to the Champion team’s charity of choice, Kythe Foundation, Inc., an organization dedicated to hospitalized children with cancer and other chronic illness.
Milestones are for Marking
It’s been a long and fruitful 15-year journey—one definitely worth celebrating. We recognize the hard work, dedication and memories of all who have been part of our family along the way. Even when we are working remotely, we will always have time to acknowledge our achievements and celebrate Secret 6 at 15. Holding this party was our response to the current state of the world, a way for us to show and celebrate each other’s resilience, creativity, resourcefulness, and adaptability. It’s a great way to cap off the story of our 15-year journey.
Our President Ron Schaffner summed it up best during his closing speech
“2020 has been crazy but we thrived because of what we've built in the past 15 years and because of everyone who's here right now. Through Divided But United, our teams worked hard to help us keep our sense of community despite the distance. In a way, it's a culmination of our adaptability… Instead of crisis, agility. Instead of inconvenience, resourcefulness and creativity. And our light that continues to shine despite all this darkness.”
Milestones are for marking, and while this celebration helped us look back at how far we’ve gone, it also gives us a point to start. For now we look forward together, divided geographically but united in spirit, to what the future holds for Secret 6.