Title:
Electronically configurable games
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A game has a plurality of game elements, in which at least one of the game elements is configured to reflect a current event. The configured game element is electronically transferred from a game provider to a game receiver and printed by the game receiver.



Inventors:
Darden, Julia (San Clemente, CA, US)
Lenz, Cathy (San Clemente, CA, US)
Kropp, Judith (San Clemente, CA, US)
Application Number:
09/780280
Publication Date:
10/25/2001
Filing Date:
02/09/2001
Assignee:
DARDEN JULIA
LENZ CATHY
KROPP JUDITH
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
463/10
International Classes:
A63F9/24; A63F3/06; (IPC1-7): A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20040266524Gaming machine illuminating arrangementDecember, 2004Williams et al.
20080200253System and Method to Levy and Collect Taxes in a Virtual EnvironmentAugust, 2008Van Luchene et al.
20100035675Wireless Monitoring Of A Card Game And/Or Wagers In GamingFebruary, 2010Soltys et al.
20060197279Gaming machine with second displaySeptember, 2006Shimizu et al.
20080076530GAMING SYSTEM WITH PLAYER SPONSORINGMarch, 2008Kulas
20060084493Gaming device having player selection of scatter pay symbol positionsApril, 2006Pederson et al.
20030036418Bonus gaming system and methodFebruary, 2003Seelig et al.
20050272497Sports videogame including user customized playing areas earned through gameplayDecember, 2005Sterchi et al.
20080153588Secure media distribution in a wager gaming systemJune, 2008Muir et al.
20090325692Gaming Machine With Movable Display ScreenDecember, 2009Klostermann et al.
20090075734GAMING APPARATUS EXECUTING RACE BY A PLURALITY OF RACE OBJECTS, AND GAME CONTROL METHOD THEREOFMarch, 2009Saito



Primary Examiner:
CAPRON, AARON J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FISH & ASSOCIATES, LLP (1440 N. HARBOR BLVD., FULLERTON, CA, 92835, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A game comprising: a plurality of game elements, wherein at least one of the plurality of game elements is configured to reflect an event or a person; wherein the at least one game element is electronically transferred from a game provider to a game receiver and printed by the game receiver; and wherein the event is separated from the game receiver printing the at least one configured game element by no more than 12 months.

2. The game of claim 1 wherein the current event is separated from the game receiver printing the at least one game element by no more than 3 months.

3. The game of claim 1 wherein the current event is separated from the game receiver printing the at least one game element by no more than 2 weeks.

4. The game of claim 1 wherein the game element is selected from the group consisting of a game board, a card, and a token.

5. The game of claim 1 wherein the game provider configures the at least one of the game elements.

6. The game of claim 5 wherein the game receiver further configures the at least one of the game elements.

7. The game of claim 1 wherein the current event is selected from the group consisting of a political event, an award ceremony, a sport event, and a monetary event.

8. The game of claim 1 wherein the at least one configured game element is transferred from the game provider to the game receiver via a computer network.

9. The game of claim 1 wherein at least two of the plurality of game elements are configured to reflect the current event.

10. The game of claim 1 wherein all of the plurality of game elements are configured to reflect the current event.

11. The game of claim 1 further comprising a random number generator.

12. A game comprising: a plurality of game elements, wherein at least one of the plurality of game elements is configured in response to an instruction by a game receiver; and wherein the at least one game element is electronically transferred from a game provider to the game receiver and printed by the game receiver.

13. The game of claim 12 wherein the instruction comprises configuration of the game element to reflect at least one of a locale, a person, and a current event.

14. A method of playing a game comprising: providing a plurality of game elements; configuring at least one of the plurality of game elements to reflect an event or a person; electronically transferring the at least one configured game element from a game provider to a game receiver and printing the at least one configured game element, wherein the current event is separated from the game receiver printing the at least one configured game element by no more than 12 months; and interrelating the plurality of game elements according to a game rule.

15. The method of claim 14 wherein the game elements are selected from the group consisting of a game board, a card, and a token.

16. The method of claim 14 wherein the game provider performs the step of configuring.

17. The method of claim 16 wherein the game receiver further configures the at least one of the game elements.

18. The method of claim 14 wherein the current event is selected from the group consisting of a political event, an award ceremony, a sport event, and a monetary event.

19. The method of claim 14 wherein the step of electronically transferring comprises transfer of the at least one configured game element via a computer network.

20. The method of claim 14 wherein the step of printing is selected from the group consisting of laser printing, dye sublimation printing, and bubble-jet printing.

Description:

[0001] This application claims the benefit of U.S. provisional application No. 60/181,624 filed Feb. 10, 2000, and U.S. provisional application No. 60/191,017 filed Mar. 21, 2000, both incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The field of the invention is games.

BACKGROUND

[0003] There are numerous games known in the art, however, all or almost all of the known games have several disadvantages. For example, in some board games players compete among each other to advance a token from a start field to a goal field (e.g., Studio Chase). In other board games, a player performs a particular task or transaction depending on the game field on which the player's token is moved (e.g., Monopoly™). While most game plans and tokens in such board games often have artistic appeal or bear resemblance to known objects or persons, both plan and tokens are generally static (i.e., will not change their appearance over time) and will therefore often loose at least some of their attraction over time.

[0004] To overcome at least some of the problems with static game components, games may be customized. For example, the game Monopoly™ is available in numerous modifications in which at least some of the game fields are changed from the original Monopoly™ game to reflect public places (e.g., streets, parks, museums, etc.) of a particular city. Although such customized games enjoy some popularity, they still remain static games. Moreover, an entire modified game needs to be purchased to gain at least some variability, which may result in significant cost if more than one customization game is desired.

[0005] To reduce the cost of customizing a game at least to some extent, customized components of a game can be purchased in a toy store. For example, additional game cards with a particular focus to a particular audience are commercially available for the game Balderdash™. Purchase of modified components advantageously tends to reduce the cost of a customized game, however, known alternative components are typically limited to additional questions or tasks that are independent of current events. Thus, such modified games tend to loose their attraction as the player becomes accustomed to the modified component.

[0006] There are numerous games known in the art, however, all or almost all of them suffer from one or more disadvantages. Therefore, there is still a need to provide improved configurations and methods for games.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] The present invention is directed to an electronically configurable game that includes a plurality of game elements, wherein at least one of the game elements is configurable to reflect a particular event. The configurable game element is then electronically transferred from a game provider to a game receiver, and the game receiver prints the transferred game element.

[0008] In one aspect, the game element is a game board, a card, or a token, some or all of which may be configured by the game provider and/or the game receiver to reflect a particular event. Preferred events include political events, award ceremonies, sport events, and monetary events, and are separated from the printing of the game element by no more than 12 months.

[0009] In a further aspect of the inventive subject matter, the configured element is electronically transferred via a computer network, most preferably the Internet. It is further contemplated that the game may further comprise a random number generator (e.g, a die).

[0010] In a still further aspect of the inventive subject matter, a game element is modified in response to an instruction of a game receiver, and especially contemplated instructions include configuring the game element to reflect at least one of a locale, a person, and a current event.

[0011] Various objects, features, aspects and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments of the invention, along with the accompanying drawing.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

[0012] FIG. 1 is a schematic perspective view of an exemplary configurable game according to the inventive subject matter.

[0013] FIG. 2 is a flow diagram of a method of playing an exemplary configurable game.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0014] In one particularly preferred aspect of the inventive subject matter, the electronically configurable game comprises a set of game cards with questions and answers directed to contemporary celebrities in the show business, sports, and politics. Preferred games may comprise a set of instructions and a score keeping sheet, wherein all components of the game are downloaded from a game provider's website and printed by a game receiver on regular paper (e.g., for instructions and score keeping sheet) or preformatted and micro-perforated cardboard (e.g., for game cards). With respect to the configuration of the game elements it should be especially appreciated, that at least one of the game elements (e.g., question cards and answers) is configured to reflect a current event or a person (e.g., a TV show that has been broadcast no more than 1 week from printing the game element). Consequently, by configuring the game element not only format and design, but also contents of the game elements may rapidly accommodate to changes in the show business, sports, and politics, financial world, etc.

[0015] For example, in a movie trivia game contents of existing game cards may periodically be modified and downloaded to reflect recent awards, such as a Grammy Award, a Golden Globe Award, etc. In another example, new contents for game cards in a sports trivia game may be created and downloaded to incorporate scores and personal data of new athletes, and so forth. It should further be appreciated that contemplated games may be downloaded in their entirety by a game receiver from a remote computer associated with a game provider, or only some of the game elements may be downloaded to update or alter an existing game (which may be commercially available in toy stores). The downloaded elements are then printed by the game receiver.

[0016] In another particularly contemplated aspect of the inventive subject matter, the electronically configurable game comprises a Monopoly™ game board, two dice, 8 colored tokens, game currency in various denominations, a set of property cards, a set of ‘Community Chest’ cards and a set of ‘Chance’ cards, wherein the Monopoly™ game board and game currency are downloaded from a toy manufacturer's or toy store website, and printed by one of the players on paper with a color printer. The player may thereby choose among numerous Monopoly™ game board designs, which may be configured to reflect a specific current event. For example, the Monopoly™ game board may be configured to reflect the year 2000 Olympic games with various Australian motives (e.g., popular places in Sydney in which some of the Olympic competitions took place). Furthermore, game currency may be customized to reflect a current exchange rate (e.g., Euro or Australian Dollar). Once the Monopoly™ game is configured, downloaded and printed, the game may be played according to its particular rules. Although it is generally contemplated that the event is separated from the game receiver printing the configured game element by no more than 12 months, shorter periods are also appropriate and include periods of no more than 6 months, preferably no more than 3 months, more preferably no more than 1 month, and most preferably no more than 2 weeks (e.g., between 1 and 5 days).

[0017] It is further contemplated that the particular nature of contemplated games is not limiting to the inventive subject matter, however, it is preferred that contemplated games are non-electronic games in which all of the game elements are physical objects (in contrast to displayed objects on a screen or monitor). The term “game element” as used herein refers to all components in a game that are operated or used by at least one player during the play. For example, a die, question card, game board, or token are contemplated game elements. As also used herein, the term game element is “configured to reflect” a current event or person refers to any modification or creation of a game element to physically include (e.g., by providing a characteristic shape, coloration, pattern, including text or graphics/pictures, etc.) a characteristic of the current event or person, and particularly contemplated characteristics include numbers/values, dates, names, designations, or facts (e.g., earthquake in India) associated with the current event or person. For example, a question card configured to reflect the year 2000 federal election may include a print depicting a face of a politician, or a printed question about one of the candidates, or a state flag of Florida, etc. As still further used herein, the term “event” refers to both public and private occurrences, wherein public occurrences particularly include recurring public events such as national holidays (e.g., President's day), religious events (e.g., Christmas), historic events (e.g., Columbus day), sport events (e.g., Olympic games), and non-recurring public events such as broadcast news (e.g., 21st meeting of the national security counsel), etc. Particularly contemplated private occurrences may include events with one or more persons involved, and especially include anniversaries (e.g., wedding), birthdays, school reunions, etc. The term “configured to reflect a person” means that the game element includes direct personal information (e.g., name, age, address, etc.) and/or indirect personal information (e.g., family status, occupancy, hobbies, etc.).

[0018] In alternative aspects of the inventive subject matter, various games other than Monopoly™ are also contemplated and alternative games include board games, social games, charades, and card games, so long as at least one game element is configured to reflect a particular event or person, and electronically transferred from a game provider to a game receiver, and the game receiver prints the game element within a period of no more than 12 months from the event.

[0019] Especially contemplated games include trivia games that refer in their content or layout to locally or internationally known localities, contemporary artists and/or artwork, economical or political events, etc. The term ‘game provider’ as used herein refers to commercial, and non-commercials entities that post, preferably on a website, downloadable game elements. Similarly, the term ‘game receiver’ refers to a person or group of people that download at least one of the downloadable game elements for purposes other than selling the downloaded and/or printed elements. For example, a single player or group of players that download a new game for playing that game are considered game receivers. In contrast, a print shop downloading a new design from a game provider to print and supply the game provider with printed game elements for sale is not considered a game receiver under the scope of this definition.

[0020] It should also be appreciated that contemplated game elements need not be restricted to a particular game, and may include various game boards, event- or question cards, tokens, rule booklets, and so forth, so long as alternative game elements can be electronically transferred to and printed by a game receiver. Likewise, the transfer need not be limited to downloading the game elements from the internet (i.e., a computer network), and appropriate electronic transfers include permanent and transient ROM such as magnetic, optical, and magneto-optical disks, flash cards, etc., opto-electronic transfer (e.g., via infrared light), and wireless transfer (e.g., cellular modem). While in some embodiments of the inventive subject matter the entire game maybe downloaded and printed, other embodiments may include downloading and printing of only one or more than one game element. With respect to the printout it is contemplated that various formats are appropriate, including bubble jet printing, laser printing dye sublimation printing and so forth. Likewise, it is contemplated that there is a wide variety of materials onto which the game element may be printed, including paper, cardboard, metallic surfaces such as magnetic sheets, and polymers such as static cling film, etc.

[0021] It should be especially appreciated that in one aspect of the inventive subject matter the configurable games provide an especially short lag time between an actual event and the incorporation of the event into the configurable game. For example, trivia questions relating to academy awards winners and questions to the ceremony could be downloadable almost instantaneously, while in “traditional” non-configurable trivia games cards need to be designed, printed, boxed, shelved, etc. In another especially contemplated aspect of the inventive subject matter, configurable games advantageously reduce the need for stocking pre-printed and boxed games in a retail environment. For example, games with content relating to New Year Eve, Valentine's Day, etc. may be configured and downloaded when in demand, while traditional printed games that have not been sold typically need to be stocked until the next occurrence of the special event.

[0022] In a still further contemplated aspect of the inventive subject matter, the configurable game may not only be configured by a game provider, but also (additionally or exclusively) by one or more persons and/or players who may or may not be the game receivers. For example, game cards may be personalized by a player or non-player (e.g., by including a character, number, picture, or other element on the game element) with a name, a birth date, etc. to reflect a particular event. In another example, while in some games the game provider may modify (e.g., by including a character, number, picture, or other element on the game element) one or more game pieces to accommodate the game to a particular age segment (e.g., teens, adults, seniors), in other games the game pieces may be modified by a person and/or player that has access to the data storage where modifiable game pieces are stored. The contemplated data storage could be generally accessible via the Internet (e.g., by providing a library of modifiable game elements), or employ a telephone hotline that receives suggestions that can be incorporated into modified game elements. Modification of a game element via the Internet is especially advantageous, where multiple players submit modifications in form of a contest, and winning modifications are then included in the next, modified version of the downloadable game. In yet another aspect of the inventive subject matter, the configurable game may be associated with a movie and/or a TV series, wherein the configurable game element is modified in response to the contents and events of the movie or latest episode of the TV series. For example, a modifiable trivia game could contain question cards that are directed to a particular movie (e.g., Did James Bond wear a black or a white tie at the bad guy's party?), or modifiable game boards may change in their layout in dependence of the latest episode of a TV series (e.g., the home, broadcast studio or outside location in “Frasier”)

[0023] Therefore, configurable games according to the inventive subject matter presented herein may be modified to accommodate their contents to a regularly recurring event, including calendar holidays (e.g., Independence day, Valentine's day, Memorial day, Thanksgiving, etc.), a recurring variable event (e.g., Superbowl game, Reunions, TV-series, museum exhibitions, etc.), and typically non-recurring events of particular interest to a person, group, or general population (e.g., bridal shower, graduation, etc.), wherein the modification may be performed by any reasonable combination of players, game providers, and general public. While it should be appreciated that the particular nature of the event is not limiting the subject matter, especially contemplated events particularly include political events (e.g., elections), award ceremonies, sport events, and monetary events (e.g., stock and bond market, currency exchange rates, etc.). In further contemplated configurations, the configurable game may also include a random number generator (e.g., a die, or an electronic die). An exemplary configurable game is depicted in FIG. 1, in which a game 100 has a game board 110 that includes a game path 112 between a start field 114 and a goal field 116. The game further has a plurality of game cards 120, which have been electronically transferred and printed by a game receiver. Also included in the game are tokens 130 (and optionally further tokens 130′ that have been electronically transferred and printed by a game receiver). A die 140 is included as a random number generator.

[0024] In a further alternative aspect of the inventive subject matter, it is contemplated that a game may comprise a plurality of game elements, wherein at least one of the plurality of game elements is configured in response to an instruction by a game receiver, wherein the game element is electronically transferred from a game provider to the game receiver and printed by the game receiver. With respect to the instruction, it is contemplated that a game receiver may communicate the instruction by numerous ways and especially preferred methods of instruction include verbal communication (e.g., by telephone or via a sales representative) or electronic communication (e.g., via uploading a particular layout or selecting from a presentation of preformed choices via the internet). It is should be especially appreciated that the nature and content of the instruction need not be limited to a particular format, however, especially contemplated instructions include instructions to configure at least one game element to reflect a particular locale, a person, or a current event.

[0025] Thus, as shown in FIG. 2, a method of playing a configurable game 200 generally includes one step 210 in which a plurality of game elements are provided. In another step 220, at least one of the plurality of game elements is configured to reflect an event or person, and in yet another step 230, the at least one configured game element is transferred from a game provider to a game receiver and printed by the game receiver, wherein the event is separated from the game receiver printing the at least one configured game element by no more than 12 months. In a still further step 240, the game receiver plays the game (i.e., interrelates the plurality of game elements) according to a game rule. With respect to the game elements, electronic transfer, configuring and playing the same considerations as described above apply. With respect to the step of printing it should be appreciated that all known methods of printing are suitable in conjunction with the teachings presented herein, and particularly contemplated methods of printing include laser printing, dye sublimation printing, and bubble-jet printing.

[0026] Thus, specific embodiments and applications of electronically configurable board games have been disclosed. It should be apparent, however, to those skilled in the art that many more modifications besides those already described are possible without departing from the inventive concepts herein. The inventive subject matter, therefore, is not to be restricted except in the spirit of the disclosure. Moreover, in interpreting the specification, all terms should be interpreted in the broadest possible manner consistent with the context. In particular, the terms “comprises” and “comprising” should be interpreted as referring to elements, components, or steps in a non-exclusive manner, indicating that the referenced elements, components, or steps may be present, or utilized, or combined with other elements, components, or steps that are not expressly referenced.