So I Designed a Swimming Pool Game…

My holiday is over and now it would be time to get back to work… as soon as this bloody fever goes away. First time in my life I have a fever after a holiday (usually it’s in the beginning of it).

During the holidays I didn’t spend much time on computer, but I spent time reading books and designing. It was fun: walking outdoors and just thinking games. All kinds of games.

Here’s what I came up with after few hours of pondering. It’s not a video game, although the in terms of design it could be a video game with some additions and modifications.


Sharkball is a swimming pool game where two teams try to score goals. There’s just a small twist: one of the players is a shark that you must avoid!

You can play sharkball in any kind of swimming pool.

Sharkball requires at least 5 players, but is more fun if there’s 7 or more players. There’s no limit to how many players can participate, but with 20 or more it might get bit too crowded.

Two teams try to score points, and one of the players – the shark – tries to catch somebody and become part of the winning team.


A light weight ball (can be anything from tennis ball size to football size or bigger).

Something to tie around the wrists for everybody in one team (For example: a small piece of cloth or thick rubber string should do). All the players in this team should have same colored piece of cloth to ensure that it’s easy to see which players are in the same team.


To score goals by touching the opponent’s pool side with the ball.

Shark player’s objective is to become part of the leading team, since shark player in the end of the game loses.


The oldest person will be ‘the shark’ first. Rest of the players will be divided into two teams.

There should be equal number of players in both team, although it’s not totally necessary. One team should wrap something around their wrists to indicate that they belong to the same team.

Two opposite pool sides will act as ‘goals’ in the game.

Teams should go near their pool sides, the shark player goes to the center of the pool.

The youngest person gets the ball first.


There’s one shark in the game all the time.

1. The shark may only move by diving.
2. The shark should wait 5 seconds before diving again (this is to ensure that shark player remembers to breath sometimes, and to give some time for people to escape in certain situations)
3. The shark tries to touch anybody in the team that’s currently leading (the team that has more points is said to be ‘leading’). In case of tie, shark player can touch anybody in the game.
4. When shark player catches somebody (who is in the team that’s currently leading, or if it’s a tie), that player becomes the shark, and the shark becomes a normal player and part of the team (and is no longer the shark). Possible team sign (wrist cloth) should be swapped between players when this happens (to indicate that the old shark now belongs to the team, and is no longer the shark)
5. If the shark touches somebody who doesn’t belong to the leading team (and it’s not tie), then nothing happens and the shark must try to catch somebody else.
6. The shark can only catch people when he (the shark) is diving.


Players (or at least some of the players) should keep track about how many points each team has.

1. You try to score a goal by touching the opponent’s side of pool with the ball. When you succeed your team gets a point and you should give the ball to the other team (and give them some space to start playing again).
2. You may not move if you have the ball.
3. You may not touch the ball after you drop it (somebody needs to touch the ball before you can touch it again).
4. You can swim, but are not allowed to dive.
5. If the diving shark touches you, you become the shark (and, if you have one, give your wrist cloth to the shark).
6. You are not allowed to push or touch other players and are not allowed to take ball from the player who currently has the ball.

Players should keep their team signs (wrist cloth) visible so that it’s easy to see who belongs to which team.


If the ball ever goes away from the pool, the player who threw (or kicked or gave it force) the ball last must fetch the ball and that person now becomes the shark. Notice: if you throw somebody with the ball, and ball bounces off – the person who threw the ball becomes the shark.

Basically: you should not try to throw other people with the ball and hope that the ball goes out of bounds – since you will become shark then.

The ball should be returned to the place where it was thrown and when the game continues, the shark must wait 5 seconds before he can dive.


The team that scores 10 points (or any pre-determined number) wins the game. The other team and the shark lose the game.

If there’s still sun where you live (we ran out of it here in Finland), then try it out.

Psst… by the way. Some people seemed to like the design. It got voted 1st plaze in BGFD’s July 2008 Game Design challenge – out of 4 contestants.

Juuso Hietalahti

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