Title:
Board game and board-game environment
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Embodiments of the present invention include an almost limitless number of board games, based on the familiar children's game Tic Tac Toe, that include dice or other random-play-generation means used by players to partly and/or completely select plays, and also include the game environments on which the game embodiments are played Players alternate in employing the random-play generator to select a next move, placing a labeled token, inscription, or other indication on a region of the game board when the selected move involves occupying a game-board region. A game embodiment of the present invention can be played by a single player against one or more imaginary, or virtual opponents, and can be played by two or more players, each player employing tokens or inscriptions that uniquely identify the player. Play continues until a winning player's tokens occupy a defined set of board regions, such as a set of laterally, vertically, or diagonally adjacent board regions that together span the game board. Game environments that represent embodiments of the present invention may comprise printed paper, cardboard, wood, metal, or synthetic game boards and game tokens, dice or other random-play generator, and may alternatively constitute a game interface displayed by a display monitor of a computer system, a game interface displayed by a portable game device, or lines inscribed on any surface that can be inscribed by the players along with a random-play generator, such as dice.



Inventors:
Guagliardo, Paul J. (Summit, NJ, US)
Guagliardo, Victoria Perla (Summit, NJ, US)
Guagliardo II, Paul J. (Summit, NJ, US)
Guagliardo, Julia E. (Summit, NJ, US)
Application Number:
11/199797
Publication Date:
02/15/2007
Filing Date:
08/09/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F3/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20080128988CUSTOMIZABLE BOARD GAME WITH PERSONAL PHOTOGRAPHS AND METHOD OF PLAYING THE SAMEJune, 2008Mullen
20080197569Inverse ChessAugust, 2008Srinivasa et al.
20090230625INFLATABLE BOARD GAMESeptember, 2009Clutterbuck
20060145421Board game incorporating doll playJuly, 2006Yu et al.
20100090400MULTI-DIMENSIONAL PUZZLEApril, 2010Rosen
200800545674-score-proMarch, 2008Mitchell et al.
20090096159CARD GAME PLAYING DEVICE AND METHOD OF PLAYING A GAMEApril, 2009Kenney et al.
20090058003Combination delivery box and board gameMarch, 2009Nouhan Jr.
20060284370Goal end board of a soccer playing tableDecember, 2006Chen
20060017224Lottery games having non-numeric charactersJanuary, 2006Seidman et al.
20090200742Game Apparatus for playing tossing gameAugust, 2009Maietta



Primary Examiner:
MENDIRATTA, VISHU K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Olympic Patent Works PLLC (P.O. Box 4277, Seattle, WA, 98194-0277, US)
Claims:
1. A game played within a game environment comprising a game board and a random-play generator, the game comprising: a game state represented by player indications placed in regions of the game board; and a sequence of plays, culminating in a winning play, each play in the sequence of plays made by a player by employing the random-play generator to select a next move, wherein a winning play comprises placement of an indication by a winning player onto a region of the game board that completes a winning, game-board-spanning pattern of indication placements for the winning player.

2. The game of claim 1 wherein the random-play generator is a set of two six-sided dice, each die having sides labeled with the numerals 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 as well as a blank side.

3. The game of claim 2 wherein the game board is approximately square, and has 9 square regions, each square region numbered with a single numeral, different from the remaining square regions, selected from among the numerals 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5, 7, 8, and 9.

4. The game of claim 3 wherein player indications are tokens labeled with a symbol corresponding to a player.

5. The game of claim 3 wherein a player employs the random-play generator to make a move by throwing the two dice to obtain a dice-throw result, and selecting a move based on the dice-throw result, the moves including: reinitializing the game state to an initial game state when the dice-throw result is {5,5}; making no change to the game state when the dice-throw result is { , }; and placing a token by the player on a game-board region when the dice-throw result sums to an integer having a value between 1 and 9, with a blank considered to have the value 0.

6. The game of claim 1 wherein player indications are of a player-indication type selected from among: tokens labeled with a symbol corresponding to a player; a symbol written impressed onto a game board corresponding to a player; and a symbol corresponding to a player displayed on a display screen of a computing or gaming device.

7. The game of claim 1 wherein the game board contains regions on which player indications may be placed, the regions of a region-type selected from among: sections of rings within a game board having concentric rings divided in ring sections; squares within a game board having columns and rows of squares; three-dimensional volumes within a three-dimensional game board; and hyper-dimensional volumes within a hyper-dimensional game-board.

8. The game of claim 1 wherein the game board is a physical surface or three-dimensional structure.

9. The game of claim 1 wherein the game board is displayed on a display device.

10. The game of claim 1 wherein the random-play generator is one of: one or more dice, each having three or more sides labeled with numerals, blanks, or additional types of symbols; cards imprinted with symbols or blank indicating moves; tiles or tokens imprinted with symbols or blank indicating moves; and a computer-implemented random-play generator.

11. A method of competing for entertainment, the method comprising: providing a game board divided into regions; providing tokens for each of two or more players, each player provided with tokens that uniquely identify the player; providing a random-play generator; and alternatively taking turns by the players, each turn providing an opportunity to a player to place a token on a region of the game board determined by the random-play generator, until a player wins by having placed tokens in a game-board-spanning pattern.

12. The method of claim 11 wherein the random-play generator is a set of two six-sided dice, each die having sides labeled with the numerals 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 as well as a blank side.

13. The method of claim 12 wherein the game board is approximately square, and has 9 squares, each square numbered with a single numeral different from the remaining squares, selected from among the numerals 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5, 7, 8, and 9.

14. The method of claim 13 wherein player indications are tokens labeled with a symbol corresponding to a player.

15. The method of claim 13 wherein a player employs the random-play generator to take a turn by throwing the two dice to obtain a dice-throw result, and selecting a move based on the dice-throw result, the moves including: reinitializing a game state to an initial game state when the dice-throw result is {5,5}; making no change to the game state when the dice-throw result is { , }; and placing a token by the player on a game-board region when the dice-throw result sums to an integer having a value between 1 and 9, with a blank considered to have the value 0.

16. The method of claim 11 wherein the tokens are of a type selected from among token types including: tokens labeled with a symbol corresponding to a player; a symbol written impressed onto a game board corresponding to a player; and a symbol corresponding to a player displayed on a display screen of a computing or gaming device.

17. The method of claim 11 wherein the game-board regions are of a region type selected from among: sections of rings within a game board having concentric rings divided in ring sections; squares within a game board having columns and rows of squares; three-dimensional volumes within a three-dimensional game board; and hyper-dimensional volumes within a hyper-dimensional game-board.

18. The method of claim 11 wherein the game board is a physical surface or three-dimensional structure.

19. The method of claim 1 wherein the game board is displayed on a display device.

20. The method of claim 1 wherein the random-play generator is of a random-play-generator type selected from among: one or more dice, each having three or more sides labeled with numerals, blanks, or additional types of symbols; cards imprinted with symbols or blank indicating moves; tiles or tokens imprinted with symbols or blank indicating moves; and a computer-implemented random-play generator.

21. A game environment comprising: a game board that is approximately square, and has 9 square regions, each square region numbered with a single numeral, different from the remaining squares, selected from among the numerals 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5, 7, 8, and 9; a game state represented by player indications placed in the square regions of the game board; and a set of two six-sided dice, each die having sides labeled with the numerals 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 as well as a blank side, that together compose random-play generator.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention is related to board games and, in particular, to a board game based on the well-known children's game Tic Tac Toe, but using random and partially random play selections to generate nondeterministic, complex play sequences.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The game Tic Tac Toe has been a familiar entertainment for generations of children, and may date back to Roman Empire. The game can be played with pencil and paper, fingers and condensation or dust on an automobile or residential window, smooth dirt or sand and a stick, or using many other tools and media that allow for drawing of lines, X's, and O's. Unfortunately, as most children quickly learn, the standard Tic Tac Toe game, when correctly played, always leads to a stalemate. The game can only be won when one of the two players makes a careless blunder. Furthermore, the game has an exceedingly small state space, with all relevant patterns of play sequences easily learned by even small children within a few minutes or hours of playing time. However, the fact that Tic Tac Toe has continued to be passed from generation to generation and continues to be played by many children suggests that simple, easily learned games that do not require complex game environments have a compelling and continuing entertainment value. Parents, daycare providers, educators, developers and manufactures of games, professional offices and retail establishments with waiting rooms, and many other professional and non-professionals have recognized the need for simple and easily learned games that can be used to occupy and entertain children, teenagers, and even adults in a variety of settings, and that provide a more sustained intellectual challenge than traditional Tic Tac Toe.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the present invention include an almost limitless number of board games, based on the familiar children's game Tic Tac Toe, that include dice or another random-play generator used by players to partly and/or completely select plays, and also include the game environments on which the game embodiments are played Players alternate in employing the random-play generator to select a next move, placing a labeled token, inscription, or other indication on a region of the game board when the selected move involves occupying a game-board region. A game embodiment of the present invention can be played by a single player against one or more imaginary, or virtual, opponents, and can be played by two or more players, each player employing tokens or inscriptions that uniquely identify the player. Play continues until a winning player's tokens occupy a defined set of board regions, such as a set of laterally, vertically, or diagonally adjacent board regions that together span the game board. Game environments that represent embodiments of the present invention may comprise printed paper, cardboard, wood, metal, or synthetic game boards and game tokens, dice or other random-play generator, and may alternatively constitute a game interface displayed by a display monitor of a computer system, a game interface displayed by a portable game device, or lines inscribed on any surface that can be inscribed by the players along with a random-play-generation means, such as dice.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a game environment that represents one embodiment of the present invention.

FIGS. 2A-E illustrate an exemplary play sequence for a game embodiment of the present invention played in the game environment shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 illustrates an alternative game environment featuring a 16-square board 302 and three six-sided dice with two different labeling patterns.

FIGS. 4A-B illustrate a simple, inexpensive, and readily disposable game environment, representing an embodiment of the present invention, that can be dispensed to people waiting for professional services or for product delivery in retail establishments, or to people in a variety of other settings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The essentially limitless number of different games and game-environment embodiments of the present invention are based on the familiar childhood game Tic Tac Toe. In the following discussion, several embodiments are described, including a board-game embodiment featuring dice and printed tokens. However, there are many possible variations, including boards featuring a different number of board regions, a different pattern of board regions, different types of dice or other random-play generators, tokens, and rule sets. In addition, game environments may include displayed game interfaces on personal computers and electronic game devices, and may also include dice, or other random play generation means, and any inscribable or writeable surface, including the many different writable surfaces employed by children to play the traditional game of Tic Tac Toe.

FIG. 1 shows a game environment that represents one embodiment of the present invention. The game environment includes a printed game board 102, two dice 104 and 106, and three sets of labeled tokens 108, 110, and 112. The game board has, in the illustrated embodiment, nine numbered squares, and the six-sided dice each have five sides, each side displaying one of the integers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, and a sixth, blank side. Each die therefore displays, on the six sides, the integers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 as well as a blank side. The labeled tokens in the displayed game environment include two sets of tokens 108 and 110 labeled with the familiar “X” and “O” symbols of traditional Tic Tac Toe, and may include one or more additional sets of labeled tokens, such as the set of labeled tokens 112, that include tokens labeled with a unique, easily distinguishable symbol. A set of labeled tokens is assigned to each player. For a nine-square game board, such as the game board 102 shown in FIG. 1, only six game tokens are needed for each player, because it is not possible for a player to have placed six tokens on the game board without having won the game. In alternative embodiments, each player may be allocated less than six tokens, which, as discussed below, gives rise to more complex game strategies and decisions made by players during the course of the game.

An exemplary play sequence for a game embodiment of the present invention played in the game environment shown in FIG. 1 is illustrated in FIGS. 2A-E. FIGS. 2A-E all use the same illustration conventions, which are next described with reference to FIG. 2A. The exemplary play sequence are shown in FIGS. 2A-E sequentially, ordered from top to bottom of the pages, and from FIG. 2A to FIG. 2E. Each play, such as the first play 202, is described by: (1) an indication of the player who makes the play, such as the “X” symbol 204 in the description of the first play indicating that the first play represents the first play made by player “X;” (2) an indication of the results of a dice toss or dice roll executed by the player 206 who makes the play; and (3) and a representation of the game board 208 following the player's move.

In the game sequence illustrated in FIGS. 2A-E, three players, using tokens labeled with the symbols “X,” “O,” and “Δ,” repeatedly play in turn, in the order “X,” “O,” “Δ,” until one of the players has placed his or her tokens in three vertically, horizontally, or diagonally adjacent squares on the game board. In the first turn 202, player X first throws the dice to obtain the dice-throw result {5,3} 206. The sum of the numeric values of the two dice indicate the number of the square on which the player may place a token. Note that the numbering of the squares, in the described embodiment, is the numbering shown on the game board 102 in FIG. 1. Thus, dice throw result {5,3} allows player X to place an X-labeled token on square 8 of the game board, which player X in fact does, as shown in the game-board representation 208 of the game board following the first move by player X. Player X need not place a token on the indicated square in the described game embodiment, but, in the case that each player begins with six labeled tokens, a correct strategy is to always place a token in a square when possible. In alternative embodiments of the game, when the number of tokens allocated to each player is less than six, a player may wish to pass up a token-placing opportunity for strategic reasons, including either the lack of an additional, unplayed token or a desire to maximize positional advantage by not placing a token on a square that cannot be horizontally, vertically, or diagonally connected to the player's already placed tokens.

In the next two plays 210 and 212 shown in FIG. 2A, players O and Δ both throw the dice and place their labeled tokens on the squares of the game board corresponding to their dice-throw results. Then, in play 214, the fourth play of the play sequence, player X throws the dice to obtain the result “4.” However, player O currently occupies square 4, as shown in the game-board representation 216 displaying the game state at the end of the previous play. However, according to the rules of the described embodiment of the game, player X may displace player O's token, placing an X-labeled token on square 4 in the fourth move, which player X in fact does, resulting in the game board shown in the game-board representation 218. In the next move 220, player O throws the dice to achieve the results { ,2}. The first die displays a blank, rather than a numeral. The blank acts as the numeric value “0,” and the result is therefore the number “2.” Thus, as shown in the game-board representation 222, player O may place, and in fact does place, an O-labeled token on square 2 of the game board. In the next play, 224, shown at the top of FIG. 2B, player Δ throws the dice to achieve the result “5.” However, as seen in the game-board representation 222 in FIG. 2A, representing the game state resulting from the previous play, player Δ already occupies square 5 on the game board. In this case, player Δ simply leaves the Δ-labeled token on square 5, without an ability to change the state of the game, as shown in the game-board representation 226 in FIG. 2B. In the next three plays 228, 230, and 232 shown in FIG. 2B, players X, O, and Δ obtain the result values “7,” “3,” and “4,” and place their tokens on the corresponding game-board squares to produce the game state 234. In a subsequent play 236, player X throws the dice to obtain the dice-throw result { , } 238. Throw of a double-blank dice throw results in a passed turn for the throwing player in the described embodiment of the present invention. Therefore, in play 236, player X cannot change the state of the game. In the next play 240, player O throws the dice to obtain the result “9” and correspondingly places an O-labeled token on square 9 of the game board, as shown in the game-board representation 242 in FIG. 2C. In the next turn 244, player Δ rolls the dice to obtain the dice-throw result {5,5}. A double-five dice-throw, in the currently described embodiment of the game, results in all tokens being removed from the game board, and the game state returning to an initial game state 246. The game continues, in play 248, with player X throwing the dice to obtain the result “8,” and correspondingly placing an X-labeled token on square 8 of the game board. The players alternate, in turn, in subsequent plays 250-260 shown in FIGS. 2C-2E. Finally, on the 25th play of the game 262, shown in FIG. 2E, player X rolls the dice-throw result “5” and places an X-labeled token in the center square of the game board, or square 5, displacing an O-labeled token previously placed in that square by player O, to win the game, having achieved three X-labeled squares adjacent to one another along a diagonal.

As evident from the play sequence shown in FIGS. 2A-E, the play sequences of the present invention are significantly more complex, and involve more complex strategies and decision making, than traditional Tic Tac Toe. For example, in two-player Tic Tac Toe, no game sequence greater in length than nine plays is possible, but in embodiments of the present invention, an arbitrarily long sequence of plays is possible. In traditional Tic Tac Toe, the first player to play should always maintain the advantage, throughout the game, if the first player makes no blunders, while, by contrast, in embodiments of the present invention, the outcome of a game is both locally and globally non-deterministic, with many unpredictable twists and turns possible during the course of play.

There are an almost limitless number of different variations of the game, all representing alternative embodiments of the present invention. For example, the significance of the double-five dice throw and double-blank dice throw may be different in different embodiments. For example, rather than indicating a pass, a double-blank throw may allow a player to place a token wherever the player desires in an alternative game embodiment. As another example, the double-five throw may allow a player to switch game positions with another player in an alternative game embodiment. Many other, alternative meanings may be assigned to the special throws in order to produce alternate games. As discussed above, a single player may play the game against one or more imaginary or virtual opponents, particularly in game-environment embodiments on computer systems and electronic game-playing devices. Many additional game and game-environment embodiments may be obtained by altering the game board, the game-board layout, the dice, or by choosing a different random-play generator, such as a roulette-wheel-style device or a random-play generator on a computer system. For example, FIG. 3 illustrates an alternative game-environment embodiment featuring a 16-square board 302 and three six-sided dice with two different labeling patterns 304, 306, and 308. The game rules for this alternative game-environment embodiment are essentially the same as those described in FIGS. 2A-E for the game-environment shown in FIG. 1, with the exception that three dice are thrown, rather than two dice in the previously described game embodiment. In yet additional embodiments of the game, the regions for placing tokens on the game board may not be square, and the game board may itself not be square. For example, in alternative embodiments, the label-placing regions may be sections of circular rings, and the game board a set of concentric, circular rings, with a winning placement comprising adjacent game-playing regions leading from the outside of the concentric circles to the center-most circle. Three-dimensional or higher-dimensional game boards are also possible, with winning token placements comprising, for example, in a three-dimensional game volume, adjacent, smaller cubes that pass through the volume of the game board between opposite sides or diagonally opposite corners.

Non-deterministic tic-tac-toe-like games that represent embodiments of the present invention are attractive amusement devices for children, teenagers, and even adults in a variety of settings in which people need to be entertained while waiting for service or specific events, including waiting in professional offices, daycare centers, retail establishments, governmental agencies, and other such environments. FIGS. 4A-B illustrate a simple, inexpensive, and readily disposable game environment, representing an embodiment of the present invention, that can be dispensed to people waiting for professional services or for product delivery in retail establishments, or to people in a variety of other settings. As shown in FIG. 4A, the game environment 402 is dispensed as a folded game board with a cover including tokens separated by perforations and with a plastic bubble 404, containing two small dice, affixed to the game board and protruding through an opening in the cover. When the folded game environment is opened, as shown in FIG. 4B, the game board 406 is revealed. The cover 408 can be detached along a line of perforations 410, and individual tokens, such as token 412, separated from one another along perforations, such as the perforation lines 414, 416, and 418. The dice 420-421 are contained within a plastic bubble that can be depressed in order to cause the dice to be thrown while remaining within the plastic bubble. This allows the dice to be well contained, to prevent loss of the device during play of the game by children and inattentive adults.

In alternative embodiments, different means for indicating player moves may be used. For example, the game board may be an inscribable and locally erasable medium, and a stylus may be provided, rather than tokens, which players may use to inscribe their symbols directly onto the game board. In other, alternative embodiments, the random-play generator may comprise play indications printed onto cards, and the cards may be shuffled and drawn, one at a time, by players. Alternatively, tokens or tiles printed with possible plays may be drawn from an opaque bag or container. The folded game environment may be imprinted with advertising, professional services information, product information, or other information useful to those receiving the disposable game environments.

Although the present invention has been described in terms of particular embodiments, it is not intended that the invention be limited to these embodiments. Modifications within the spirit of the invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art. For example, as discussed above, there are an almost limitless number of different game and game-environment embodiments of the present invention, including games with different rule sets that employ different random-play-generation means, different game boards, different numbers of player tokens, different number of players, and many other alternative characteristics. The game environments may be used in combination with a variety of advertising and business method strategies for disseminating information and soliciting sales, entertaining clients and customers, and for additional business purposes. Computer-based game environments may allow players to play one another remotely, and may allow for extremely complex, alternative game environments featuring higher-dimensional game boards with complex visual renderings. When dice are used as the random-play generator, the dice may each have three or more sides, each side labeled with a symbol or blank, the symbols and blank sides indicating types of moves available to a player.

The foregoing description, for purposes of explanation, used specific nomenclature to provide a thorough understanding of the invention. However, it will be apparent to one skilled in the art that the specific details are not required in order to practice the invention. The foregoing descriptions of specific embodiments of the present invention are presented for purpose of illustration and description. They are not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed. Obviously many modifications and variations are possible in view of the above teachings. The embodiments are shown and described in order to best explain the principles of the invention and its practical applications, to thereby enable others skilled in the art to best utilize the invention and various embodiments with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. It is intended that the scope of the invention be defined by the following claims and their equivalents: