Title:
Tabletop Game with Clear Sideboards
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention provides a tabletop game with a non-distorted view of the playing field. In particular, the present invention provides clear sidewalls that our substantially flat and extended. The extended sidewalls inhibit a game piece from leaving the playing surface without distorting the view.



Inventors:
Oister, Michael J. (Superior, CO, US)
Doherty, Thomas M. (Golden, CO, US)
Boettcher, William C. (Denver, CO, US)
Application Number:
10/710493
Publication Date:
02/17/2005
Filing Date:
07/15/2004
Assignee:
OISTER MICHAEL J.
DOHERTY THOMAS M.
BOETTCHER WILLIAM C.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F7/06; (IPC1-7): A63F7/06
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LEGESSE, NINI F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HOLLAND & HART, LLP (222 South Main Street, Suite 2200 P.O. Box 11583, SALT LAKE CITY, UT, 84147, US)
Claims:
1. A tabletop game, comprising: a playing surface; at least one substantially flat sidewall extension substantially bordering the playing surface; and the at least one substantially flat sidewall extension comprising a majority of translucent material, wherein a player has the ability to view the playing surface without distortion while the playing piece is inhibited from leaving the playing surface where the at least one substantially flat sidewall extension borders the playing surface.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the tabletop game comprising a hockey game.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the at least one substantially flat sidewall extension comprises an opaque base portion.

4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the at least one substantially flat sidewall extension substantially surrounds the playing surface.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the at least one substantially flat sidewall extension comprises two substantially flat sidewall extensions arranged along a length of the playing surface providing at least two gaps in along a width of the playing surface.

6. The apparatus of claim 5, wherein the tabletop game comprises a air hockey game.

7. The apparatus of claim 4, wherein the at least one substantially flat sidewall extension comprises at least one opaque section.

8. The apparatus of claim 7, wherein the at least one opaque section comprises at least one opaque section at each corner of the tabletop game.

9. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the at least one substantially flat sidewall extension comprises a plurality of substantially flat sidewall extensions and wherein the plurality of substantially flat sidewall extensions are connected by at least one opaque section.

10. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the at least one substantially flat sidewall extension is perpendicular to the playing surface.

11. The apparatus of claim 2 further comprising: at least two goal frames on the playing surface; and at least one goal lamp on each of the at least two goal frames.

12. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising: a superstructure; and a scoreboard attached to the superstructure, wherein the superstructure comprises at least one vertical leg and at least one horizontal crossbar and wherein the at least one substantially flat sidewall extension allows a player to view the scoreboard substantially without distortion.

13. A tabletop hockey game, comprising: a stand comprising a base and a plurality of legs; a playing surface residing on the stand; a plurality of representative hockey players residing above the playing surface and connected to a plurality of control rods; a pair of goals residing on the playing surface; at least one substantially flat sidewall section bordering the playing surface; and the at least one substantially flat sidewall section being substantially comprised of translucent material, wherein the at least one substantially flat sidewall section inhibits a game piece from leaving the playing surface without substantially distorting a view of a player.

14. The tabletop hockey game of claim 13, wherein the stand comprises a stand sidewall that extends slightly above the playing surface and borders the playing surface.

15. The tabletop hockey game of claim 13, further comprising a goal lamp on each of the pair of goals, wherein the goal lamp lights when a goal is scored.

16. The tabletop hockey game of claim 13, wherein the at least one substantially flat sidewall comprises a plurality of translucent section connected by at least one opaque section.

17. The tabletop hockey game of claim 16, wherein the at least one opaque sections comprise at least four opaque sections residing at each corner of the tabletop hockey game.

18. A tabletop hockey game, comprising: a playing surface; a plurality of representative players residing above the playing surface; a plurality of control rods connected to the plurality of representative players to allow a user to control the plurality of players; a pair of goals residing on the playing surface and arranged at opposite ends of the playing surface; a goal lamp on each of the pair of goals; and at one light circuit, the at least one light circuit to cause the goal lamp to be illuminated when a goal is scored.

19. The at least one light circuit being associated with the goal lamp and a score switch that provides a score signal to the at least one light circuit.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION:

This patent application is related to U.S. Design patent application No. 29/186,526, filed Jul. 16, 2003, now Design patent D490,476, and claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application 60/488,074, filed Jul. 16, 2003, incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

Field of the Invention:

The present invention relates to tabletop games and, more particularly, to tabletop games with clear sideboards.

Many arcade style tabletop games exists. Some of the more popular arcade style tabletop games simulate hockey, such as for example, table hockey games, which simulates regulation hockey having movable players and goalies, and AIR HOCKEY games, or soccer (or football as it is known outside of the United States). These games typically comprise a tabletop playing field that simulates the field and typically players of the actual game, although AIR HOCKEY games do not have representative players. While the below application refers to table hockey games, one of ordinary skill in the art will recognize other table-top games can be substituted, such as, for example, AIR HOCKEY, foosball, tabletop baseball, tabletop football, tabletop basketball, tabletop bowling, and the like.

A table hockey game includes representative forwards and defensemen for the game (typically five men) suspended over a hockey rink simulation by slidable, rotatable rods. The rods generally slide parallel to the length of the playing field to allow movement of the players along a track. The rods rotate to spin the players to provide shooting, passing, and a checking simulation. The goalie rod is slightly different than the general rods in that the rod generally slides perpendicular to the length of the playing surface to simulate the goalie moving side to side across the goalmouth. Some limited parallel movement may be allowable by pushing and pulling the goalie rod. Of course, other games may have different, but still conventional, player arrangements.

While generally enjoyable, the flow of many tabletop games is impaired because low sidewalls allow game pieces to easily exit the playing field. U.S. Pat. No. 6,409,169, titled Table Hockey Apparatus, issued Jun. 25, 2002, to Sutter, shows one sample of a tabletop hockey game with low sidewalls, incorporated herein by reference. To counter this problem, the low sidewalls could be extended, but the solid, opaque nature of the sidewalls would cause large increases manufacturing and shipping costs as well as obstructing the player's view of the playing field.

Alternative to extending the sidewalls, some games use transparent covers or domes. U.S. Pat. No. 4,480,833, titled Amusement Game, issued Nov. 6, 1984, to Barcelow et al, shows one sample of a domed tabletop hockey game, incorporated herein by reference. The domes provide increase game flow because the game piece is inhibited from leaving the playing field, but the clear, curved dome obstructs the playing field. In particular, the curved dome reflects the overhead or general room lighting making it difficult to view the playing field. The reflection is increased as the overhead or area light increases. Moreover, the dome causes distortion when attempting to view the overhead scoreboard, which simulates authentic NHL hockey rinks.

As one of skill in the art will recognize, the dome could be converted for use with only a limited number of other tabletop games, such as, foosball, tabletop baseball, tabletop basketball, and the like, but would still suffer from the same drawbacks. Also, the dome is not useable with some tabletop games, such as AIR HOCKEY, tabletop bowling, and the like, because the players need access to the playing field.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

To attain the advantages and in accordance with the purpose of the invention, as embodied and broadly described herein, tabletop games with clear sideboards are provided. In particular, the tabletop games have substantially straight clear extensions. The extensions inhibit the game piece from leaving the playing field, provide views of the playing field and scoreboards without distortion.

The foregoing and other features, utilities and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following more particular description of a preferred embodiment of the invention as illustrated in the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate embodiments of the present invention, and together with the description, serve to explain the principles thereof. Like items in the drawings are referred to using the same numerical reference.

FIG. 1 shows a front perspective view of a table hockey game illustrative of the present invention;

FIG. 2 shows a front perspective view of the overhead scoreboard of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 shows a top plan view of one of the goals of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 4 shows a functional block diagram of the goal lamp illumination system.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention will be explained with reference to FIGS. 1-4. While the present invention is explained with reference to a table hockey game, one of skill in the art will recognize on reading the disclosure that other tabletop games, such as AIR HOCKEY, tabletop foosball, tabletop baseball, tabletop football, tabletop basketball games, tabletop bowling, and the like could employ the present invention as well.

FIG. 1 shows a front perspective view of a table hockey game 100. Table hockey game includes a stand 102 and a playing surface 104. Playing surface 104 has a length L and a width W. Suspended above playing surface 104 are a number of representative hockey players 106. Stand 102 has a plurality of legs 108, and a stand base 110. Optionally, a plurality of stand sidewalls 112 may extend up from stand base 110 to slightly beyond playing surface 104. Thus, a top portion 114 of stand sidewalls may comprise a small opaque sidewall for the playing surface as desired. Alternatively and also optionally, top portion 114 could be replaced by separate a separate sidewall that resided around playing surface 104.

An open space, not specifically shown, exists between playing surface 104 and base 110 to house player control and electronics. The player controls and electronics, which will be described in more detail below as they relate specifically to the present invention, are generally known in the art and will not be further explained herein. Sample player controls and scoring controls are shown in the '833 Patent and the '169 Patent incorporated by reference above. Rods 116 extend from stand sidewalls 112 to allow a player to control representative players 106.

Attached to about playing surface 104 is a clear sideboard extension 118. Sideboard extension 118 is made of a translucent material, such as clear plastic or glass, but the material could be colored as desired. Sideboard extensions are shown, and preferably, allow for completely clear sideboards around playing surface 104, but sideboard extensions 118 could be made in a plurality of sections connected by opaque connectors 120, such as plastic, wood, or the like. For example, the corner sections of the sideboards could be opaque connectors 120. Sideboard extensions can encompass playing surface 104 as shown, or only reside at select positions to allow access to playing surface 104. For example, for AIR HOCKEY, sideboard extensions 118 may only reside along the length L of playing surface 104 and not along the width W of playing surface 104 to allow player access to playing surface 104. Sideboard extensions 118 are substantially perpendicular to playing surface 104 and define opening 122 above playing surface 104. By having opening 122 instead of the conventional dome, the player's vision is less obstructed. Further, opening 120 cannot reflect light similar to conventional domes. Also, sideboard extensions 118 being relatively straight (and/or flat) instead of curved like conventional domes, tends to provide less glare even if playing surface is viewed through sideboard extensions 118. Lastly, sideboard extensions simulate actual hockey rinks. In particular, NHL hockey rinks contain an ice surface similar to playing surface 104 surrounded by lower opaque sideboards, similar to top portion 114. Extending above opaque sideboards, NHL hockey rinks have clear plastic extensions similar to sideboard extensions 118.

Table hockey game 100 further has a superstructure 124 to hold a scoreboard 126. Not shown in FIG. 1, but shown in FIG. 2. Connections of the superstructure 124 to tabletop games are generally known in the art and will not be specifically described herein. Superstructure 124 comprises a plurality of vertical support members 128 extending from stand sidewalls 112 (or top portion 114). Connecting the vertical support members 128 is a crossbar member 130. Crossbar member 130 is coupled to scoreboard 126 in any conventional manner, such as, for example, providing channel through which crossbar member 130 can pass to hold scoreboard 126. Scoreboard 126 is similar to conventional scoreboards generally known in the art. Wires internal to superstructure 124 supply power and other signals to scoreboard 126.

Scoreboard 126 includes a visitor score display 132, a home score display 134, a light 136, and a time display 138. The displays, which may be more, less, or other displays as a matter of design choice, are generally known in the art and controlled by conventional mechanisms known in the art. For example, the score display is incremented when a switch below opening 308 indicates a game piece scored. The switch, display, and electronics to increment the score are generally known in the art and will not be further explained.

FIG. 3 shows a goal 300 associated with table hockey game 100. Goal 300 includes a frame 302 and net 304. Frame 302 defines a goalmouth 306. Behind goalmouth 306 an opening 308 exists in playing surface 104. When a game piece crosses goalmouth 306, it falls through opening 308 and exists at a game piece return. Various game piece return systems exist. Internal to opening 308 (generally in a channel below opening 308) resides a switch that is toggled when game piece drops into opening 308. The toggling of the switch sends a signal to scoreboard 126 to increase the respective score display. The signal to scoreboard 126 and switch is generally known in the art. Some table hockey games attempt to simulate actual game conditions by using the signal to generate sound indicative of the roar of a crowd when a score occurs, see the '833 Patent. The increase in the score and the sound only partially simulates actual game conditions, however. As can be seen, goal 300 includes a goal light 310. As shown, goal light 310 resides on top of frame 302, but could reside on sidewall extensions 118, which more closely resembles actual NHL rinks, but is more difficult to manufacture. Power can be supplied to goal light 310 via wires (not specifically shown) either threaded into net 304 or internal to frame 302.

As shown in FIG. 4, the signal from the switch is used to trigger a light circuit 402 that closes and supplies power (power can be from a conventional AC plug, a battery, or the like) to goal light 310 to light goal light 310 when a goal is scored. Preferably, the signal trips a switch that closes for a period of time, such as maybe controlled by a simple RC circuit, so goal light 310 is illuminated for several moments after a goal is scored. To better simulate actual NHL rinks, goal light 310 could be a flashing light or siren type light although goal light 310 could be any conventional light. A processor 404 (shown in phantom) could receive indication of a goal and cause light circuit 402 to supply power to goal light 310. After a predetermined time delay, processor 404 would turn off the power supply. Light circuit 402 and processor 404 could be integrated into a single component.

While the invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to an embodiment thereof, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various other changes in the form and details may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.