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Game Design Showdown July 2008 Challenge: "Pool Party"

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Brykovian's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008

(Note: This Challenge is closed to new entries and open for voting.)

Game Design Showdown

July 2008 Challenge - "Pool Party"

Challenge: Design a game to be played by a group in and/or around a swimming pool.

Design Details:

  • What is 'a group'? - The number of players can go as high as is safely allowed in (or around) the pool.
  • What sort of swimming pool? - Your design can determine the size and type of pool, from "kiddy pool" to "Olympic lap pool" -- it's up to you.
  • What sort of equipment? - Your design can determine the type of equipment (if any) to be used in the game ... from no additional equipment needed, to generally easy-to-find things (frisbees, volleyballs, etc.), to unique equipment custom-made for your game.

  • Start Date: Thursday, 10-July-2008
  • End Date: Thursday, 17-July-2008, Noon EST (approximately)
  • Voting: 17-July-2008 through Thursday, 24-July-2008

This Challenge is closed to new entries and open for voting.

To Vote: Send your voting points to me via the site's private message system.

To Critique the Entries: Post your thoughtful comments in the Critique Thread.

For more details on how these Game Design Showdown Challenges work (including how to vote), visit the GDS Wiki Page.

Enjoy! -Bryk

Brykovian's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #1 - No Touchy!

Entry #1 - NO TOUCHY!

by lordgoon ... 2nd Place

According to Newtonian physics, the three-body problem is inherently unsolvable. Now Netwon's loss is the gain of pool parties everywhere!


  • Four floating deck chairs.
  • Four four-foot lengths of nylon rope.
  • One swimming pool, at least 7ftx7ft
  • One beach ball.

Four players and one impartial (& preferably 'sober') referee are required.


  • Players climb into their floating chairs and sit in pairs facing one another, sort of like they were sitting at a damp card table.
  • Each player then holds one end of a length of rope, with the other end being held by the players to his right and left.
  • The referee stands on the edge of the pool holding the beach ball in one hand, soberly observing the proceedings.
  • All players then paddle backward with their feet in the water until the lengths of rope are fully extended.
  • As soon as she sees that this condition is met, the referee throws the ball into the water so that it lands in a central position between both pairs of players.


  • The object of the game is to avoid touching the ball with any part of one's chair or body.
  • One accomplishes this by tugging on one's ropes to bring other players closer to the ball, while remaining as far away as possible from it oneself.
  • Any player who: 1) lets go of his rope, 2) moves his hand closer to another player's along a length rope, or 3) touches an opponent's chair or body with any part of his own body is instantly disqualified, and the game is reset from scratch.
  • The first player to touch the ball loses and has to switch places with the referee for the next round. Play continues until exhaustion, drowning or mosquito attack.
Brykovian's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #2 - Sea Serpent

Entry #2 - SEA SERPENT

by Freerby ... 3rd Place

Team-based swimming pool game for 6-16 people

Yarrr! Legend tells of a mighty Sea Serpent, 10 ships length with a cavernous maw rent from the Devil's own imaginings. Intellect and fury, this loathsome leviathan falls betwixt, a folly for the brave and mad that ne'er hath ceased. Hear ye now this accursed tale of plenty a truculent seaman's death.

Game Goal In Sea Serpent two teams take on the roles of the dreaded Sea Serpent and the pugnacious Fishermen. The Sea Serpent must eat all the Fisherman for the legend to continue whilst the Fisherman attempt to slay the beast from tail to head. If all Fisherman, bar one (who shall spread the dreadful tale from port to port) are eaten, the Serpent wins. If the Fishermen catch all the segments of the Serpent, leaving the head (a ghastly trophy), the Fisherman win, claiming a legend: a swarthy tale of victory over the dreadful denizen of deep.

What's Needed A very large swimming pool, public baths or Olympic pool Kids, Families and Friends

The Game All players form two equal sized teams, one team becomes the Serpent, the other the Fishermen. If player numbers are uneven, the Fishermen get the extra team member. The Fishermen group together on one side of the pool, they must work as a team to try and cut off the tail of the Serpent.

On the other side of the pool, the Serpent team forms a conga line with hands on the waist or shoulders of the person in front. This is the Serpent. Serpent players must try and keep the serpent together at all times.

The person at the front of the Serpent is the mouth, the person at the back is the tail and the middle person closest to the front is the brain.

The mouth must steer the Serpent and try and eat all the Fishermen

The tail is the Serpent's weak spot, they must try and avoid the Fishermen

The brain can make decisions, either flip the direction of the Serpent or split the Serpent in two

The Fishermen split up and, by working as a team, try at catch the Serpent's tail

When a Fishermen gets eaten by the mouth, the eaten Fisherman is no longer a Fisherman and is now a part of the Serpent team. All eaten players attach to the front of the Serpent and become the mouth: the head of the Serpent.

The tail must try and avoid the Fishermen. To catch a tail all the Fisherman must do is touch any part of the tail player's body. One Fishermen can catch one tail, but any number of tails can be caught at once (by different Fishermen). If the tail is caught by a Fisherman, the tail player must let go of the Serpent and both the Fisherman and the tail must stop dead. All the other Fishermen must now rush towards them and each touch the shoulder of the caught tail. If done, the tail becomes a Fisherman and is now on the Fisherman's team.

But, if they do not get there in time, the Serpent may still eat both players and grow even bigger!

As the tail players get caught the Serpent's length is shortened. (the Serpent team member who was in front of the captured tail, then becomes the tail etc etc)

The brain can, at anytime, call "SWITCH". The Serpent must switch direction, the tail becomes the mouth and visa-versa, all Serpent team members must switch directions and place hands on the waist or shoulders of the person who was behind them. The Serpent can then carry on chasing the Fishermen, in the opposite direction.

If the Serpent grows bigger than 6 people, at anytime the brain can call "split" and the Serpent can split into 2: with the brain now taking the role of the mouth. the 3 (or more) players in each new Serpent attain the relevant roles of mouth, brain and tail.

If the Serpent accidentally breaks, the Serpent section with the least number of people must stop dead. The other Serpent section must try and eat the stranded section to continue. The Fishermen may try and capture the stranded section, same as when catching a tail: by all Fishermen touch the shoulder of a player from the stranded section (they in turn become Fishermen also)

Game End If all but one Fisherman remains, the Serpent is victorious. If only the Serpent's head remains (one Serpent team member), the Fishermen win.

Brykovian's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #3 - Pool War

Entry #3 - Pool War

by Gizensha ... 4th Place

A game for two or more people (four or more recommended)


  • A swimming pool of at least 7.5m * 7.5m, and deep enough to safely fall into from the pool edge
  • 16 50cm * 50cm soft floating platforms
  • 2 hula-hoops
  • 2 fewer high powered water pistols than players.

Gameplay outline

2 players jump from platform to platform, armed with hula-hoops, trying to knock/pull the opponent into the pool. The rest of the players shoot at them with water pistols.

Starting Setup

Starting Setup Diagram

The sketch diagram above is not to scale.

The platforms should be placed about 50cm from the orthogonally adjacent platforms, and at least two meters away from the pool's edge.

The two active players (warriors) start, hula-hoop in hand, at opposite corners of the grid, shown in green on the diagram. The remaining players (snipers) stand around the edge armed with water pistols, these are the blue circles on the diagram.


At the same time, the warriors start jumping from platform to platform, attempting to knock the opponent off the platforms into the water. The snipers start shooting at the warriors, also trying to make them fall into the water.

No deliberate body contact can occur between the warriors, nor can they share a platform.

They must use the hula-hoop to knock the opposing warrior off the platforms, or hook round the warrior and pull them off the platform.

Defending the opposing warrior's hula-hoop can be done with body or hula-hoop, but grabbing it is not permitted.

Throwing your hula-hoop at your opponent is permitted, but is a high risk strategy, since if it fails; you might not be able to successfully retrieve your weapon.

The round ends when the first warrior falls off. If no one can determine who fell first, the round is a draw.

At the end of the round, reset the positions of the platforms, and start again.

Play Modes


Each player is playing individually. Warriors should play the same amount of matches. In this variant, the warrior who wins the most matches wins the game. Drawn rounds do not count as a win for either warrior, but do count as a match for both. An overall tied should be resolved with a standard, tournament, or four warrior melee match between the tied players.

Tournament Play

In tournament play, a number of players which is a power of two is required. Play proceeds as a single elimination tournament. Should a draw occur, the two should have a rematch at the end of the round.

Team Match

If there is an even number of players, you can play the team match. Divide the players into two teams, and have each warrior fight against one of the other team's warriors once. The team with the most victories wins the match. Snipers are most important in this variant. Drawn rounds do not count as a win for either team. An overall draw can be resolved by continuing playing until the tie is broken, or a four warrior melee between two from each team.

Four warrior melee variant

For a single round variant for four players exactly, you can dispense with the snipers, and instead play with four warriors. In this case, four hula-hoops are required, and the warriors start at each corner of the grid.

Brykovian's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #4 - Sharkball

Entry #4 - Sharkball

by TheMob ... 1st Place

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.

Brykovian's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Voting Results

Voting Results

I received votes from the following 5 people: lucasAB, Isamoor, SiddGames, Gizensha and Freerby.

After doing the math, we have the following results:

  • 1st Place - Sharkball (Entry #4) by TheMob - 15 pts (2 5 pts, 1 4pt, 1 1pt)
  • 2nd Place - NO TOUCHY! (Entry #1) by lordgoon - 13 pts (1 5pt, 2 3pts, 1 2pt)
  • 3rd Place - SEA SERPENT (Entry #2) by Freerby - 7 pts (1 5pt, 1 2pt)
  • 4th Place - Pool War (Entry #3) by Gizensha - 2pts (1 2pt)

Thanks for all entrants and voters ... especially with your patience as we get things moved over to the new site.

Now give these designers some useful critiques in the CRITIQUES THREAD.

The August GDS Challenge will be a bit more traditional and posted here in a couple of weeks.

Cheers, -Bryk

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