Sharkworld allows aspiring project managers to experience project management, in a setting where game and the real world are intertwined. The game is played the online game environment with the addition of your own email and phone! The story is set in Shanghai, where a high-tech large scale shark aquarium is being built. A Dutch installation company got the job but their last project manager on site has mysteriously disappeared. The Sharkworld player is his replacement to finish the job. To successfully finish the project a player needs to cooperate with ingame virtual characters through video conferencing (super hip back then :D). Sharkworld covers not only economic aspects of project management like planning and budgeting, but also social aspects, such as conflict management, cultural sensitivity, diplomatic and communication skills. The game is real time and is played over a duration of 72 hours (first release was 5 full days).


From a personal perspective I was lucky to be involved in such an innovative and huge game development project (which lasted about 1,5 year). Although I was one of the youngest members at the time I felt part of the team, in which we all tried to create a new standard for applied gaming and video based interactive storytelling. Looking back, I think the game design and technology used was far ahead of its time. Which is perhaps also the reason it earned national and international recognition.


Sometimes I am still waiting for more games that apply similar pervasive game design mechanics.

My role

Narrative Designer

Web Design/Developer




Flash (Ranj Engine)


Related links

Ranj Trailer


Worked for
Worked with

Mixing Reality

Being a project manager is not all about learning the theories out of a management book. It’s as much about performing under pressure, responding quickly/accurately to problems and communication. The idea was to put those social and real-world pressure into an applied game. The game designers of Ranj decided to create a game that interacted with players on ways, many ways, that resemble the real world as much as possible, applying pervasive game design mechanics.


You had a range of tools you could use in the virtual desktop of Spector Install. Which was the made-up multimillion-dollar company behind the project. You could adjust budgets, change priority, reschedule assignments, or even postpone others. Besides that, runs the main storyline which was constructed entirely out of interactive video narratives with about six different characters. However, for a quick chat with them you could also use a very handy ingame chat program to ask questions or get immediate status updates.


These ‘virtual’ interactions where only the start. The game calls players on their own mobile phone with pre recorded messages. The characters send text messages if big problems occur asking you to log into Spector Install asap! Furthermore, you will receive updates and emails on your own email address with work updates. If that weren’t enough, we also made fake news websites on the internet to make the story even more compelling.


All of these connections would mean players had to make minor planning adjustments in the online platform, but sometimes they would also lead to new narratives that where being unlocked.

Spector Install - Planing Overview

Creating narratives & social scores

Making a game to feel a part of the actual world is already very tricky to do. The narratives where perhaps the biggest but also hardest part of making the game believable. Let me state up front that I was not responsible for writing the narrative, which was also woven into a bigger storyline about a mad professor trying to sabotage the construction. I was mostly responsible of getting all the content into our conversation-tools, creating the story branch by branch and later added the timing of all the subtitles.


In addition to the above, I was responsible for the score system. Which is linked with the narrative choices players made. At the end of the game players (or teachers) would be provided with a large list of competences. A large part was generated from choices made in the online environment like planning, efficiency, reaction speeds and chosen solutions. The more social competences where all derived from choices made in the narratives. Which meant going trough all the branches and awarding scores based the communication tactics or social skills.

Web Development

The game had a couple of ‘fake’ websites you could go to. One was a Spector Install website, the other a status of the construction site. These where combined with some other fake pages and articles on new sites of social platforms at the time. These where dropped in files or referred to in the game. The status of the construction site was an ingame link that auto-updated to a new page if certain milestone criteria were met.


Lastly was the website of the game itself. It was never the idea that I, as one of the most junior members of the team, would develop this. However, with immense pressure on the team to get this mammoth game finished it was decided that I could make the first version. Not the greatest site I made, but still it ran for years, even though some minor adjustments were made in texts, credits page and a bigger play button. Unfortunately, the site is offline for some years now.  Xmediaworks, the company licencing the game worldwide, discontinued the game.