Title:
Apparatus for Playing a Game
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention provides apparatus for playing a game. The apparatus comprises one or more multi-faceted playing pieces, each playing piece comprising six game sides arranged in a substantially cube-like orientation relative to one another. Each playing piece comprises two like game indicia only, and the two like game indicia are arranged or formed so as to be visible on or through two game sides which are substantially perpendicular to one another. The present invention also provides electrical and/or electronic means for simulating and manipulating one or more playing pieces according to the present invention.



Inventors:
Newberry, Nigel (Oxfordshire, GB)
Application Number:
11/571445
Publication Date:
03/13/2008
Filing Date:
06/30/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
273/146, 273/299, 463/16, 463/42, 463/43
International Classes:
A63F9/00; A63F9/34; A63H33/04
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
PIERCE, WILLIAM M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LUEDEKA, NEELY & GRAHAM, P.C. (P O BOX 1871, KNOXVILLE, TN, 37901, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. Apparatus for playing a game, the apparatus comprising at least one multi-faceted playing piece, the at least one multi-faceted playing piece comprising: six game sides arranged in a substantially cube-like orientation relative to one another; and two like game indicia only, wherein: the two like game indicia are configured so as to be visible on or through two game sides which are substantially perpendicular to one another.

2. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein the two like game indicia are configured so as to be visible on or through only two game sides which are substantially perpendicular to one another.

3. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein at least one of the at least one playing piece is substantially cube shaped.

4. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein at least one of the at least one playing piece is a polyhedron comprising at least six sides.

5. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein at least one of the the at least one playing piece is a solid.

6. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein at least one of the the at least one playing piece is hollow.

7. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein at least one of the at least one playing piece is formed of a at least one planar element.

8. Apparatus as claimed in claim 7 wherein at least one game side is formed by one of the at least one planar element.

9. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein at least one playing piece is formed of six planar elements and wherein each of the six game sides of the at least one playing piece formed of six planar elements is formed by one of the six planar elements and the six game sides are arranged together by a connecting means in the substantially cube-like orientation.

10. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein four of the game sides of each playing piece remain blank or are otherwise visibly distinct from the two game sides conveying the like game indicia.

11. Apparatus as claimed in claim 10 wherein at least one of the four game sides of each playing piece which remain blank or otherwise visibly distinct from the two game sides conveying like game indicia is itself visibly distinct from at least one of the other four game sides.

12. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein at least one playing piece is configured to be laid down on any one of its six game sides.

13. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 comprising a plurality of playing pieces wherein each playing piece is configured to be laid down adjacent to or stacked on another playing piece.

14. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein the like game indicia are used to score in a game played using the at least one playing piece.

15. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein the two like game indicia of each playing piece are arranged in the same vertical orientation relative to one another.

16. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein the two like game indicia of each playing piece are substantially similar in size and shape.

17. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein the two like game indicia of each playing piece differ in (a) orientation, or (b) size, or (c) shape or (d) orientation and size or (e) orientation and shape or (f) size and shape or (g) orientation and size and shape.

18. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein each playing piece comprises further indicia different from the like game indicia.

19. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein each playing piece is formed as a cube-like structure having (a) truncated and/or beveled and/or rounded edges, and/or (b) truncated and/or beveled and/or rounded corners and/or (c) at least one hollowed-out game side.

20. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein at least one of the game sides of each playing piece is substantially flat and smooth.

21. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein at least one of the game sides of each playing piece is provided with temporary attachment means.

22. Apparatus as claimed in claim 21 wherein the temporary attachment means is effected using releasable attachment means, including hook and loop material or magnetic material.

23. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein each playing piece is of at least partly open form.

24. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein each playing piece is substantially opaque.

25. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein each playing piece is substantially transparent.

26. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein one or more of the game sides of each playing piece is at least partially opaque.

27. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein the like game indicia are alphabetic characters.

28. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein the like game indicia are numeric characters.

29. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein the like game indicia are alphanumeric characters.

30. Apparatus as claimed in 1 wherein the like game indicia represent a spoken or written language and/or one or more characters thereof.

31. Apparatus as claimed in 1 wherein the like game indicia are taken from those indicia commonly found on typewriter or computer keyboards.

32. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein the like game indicia are mathematical symbols, musical notes, colours, animals or the indicia of playing cards.

33. Apparatus for playing a game comprising at least one multi-faceted playing piece, the at least one multi-faceted playing piece comprising: six game sides arranged in a substantially cube-like orientation relative to one another; and two like game indicia only, wherein: the two like game indicia are each configured so as to be visible on or through one of two game sides which are substantially perpendicular to one another.

34. Use of the apparatus as claimed in claim 1 or claim 33 by one or more players to play the game.

35. Apparatus for playing a game comprising electrical or electronic means or both electrical and electronic means for generating an electronic representation of at least one multi-faceted playing piece, each playing piece comprising: six game sides arranged in a substantially cube-like orientation relative to one another; and two like game indicia only, wherein: the two like game indicia are arranged or formed configured so as to be visible on or through two game sides which are substantially perpendicular to one another.

36. (canceled)

37. Apparatus as claimed in claim 35 further comprising memory means for storing game data.

38. Apparatus as claimed in claim 37 wherein the memory means is programmable or reprogrammable or both.

39. Apparatus as claimed in claim 37 wherein the memory means is portable and interchangeable for use in other electrical or electronic means or both.

40. Apparatus as claimed in claim 35 further comprising electrical or electronic processing means or both electrical and electronic means for reading the memory means and generating the at least one playing piece based on data stored in the memory means.

41. Apparatus as claimed in claim 35 further comprising input means.

42. Apparatus as claimed in claim 35 further comprising output means.

43. Apparatus as claimed in claim 41 or 42 wherein (a) the input or output means is usable by a player or players of a game or (b) both the input and output means are usable by a player or players of.

44. Apparatus as claimed in claim 35 wherein (a) the electrical or electronic means is a computer means or (b) the electrical and electronic means are computer means.

45. Apparatus as claimed in claims 35 wherein (a) the electrical or electronic means is a personal digital assistant (PDA) or (b) the electrical and electronic means are a PDA.

46. Apparatus as claimed in claim 35 wherein (a) the electrical or electronic means is a telephone or (b) the electrical and electronic means are a telephone.

47. Apparatus as claimed in claim 35 wherein (a) the electrical or electronic means is a mobile telephone or (b) the electrical and electronic means is a mobile telephone.

48. Apparatus as claimed in claim 35 wherein (a) the electrical or electronic means is a television or (b) the electrical and electronic means is a television.

49. Apparatus as claimed claim 35 wherein (a) the electrical or electronic means is a games console or (b) the electrical and electronic means is a games console.

50. Apparatus as claimed claim 35 wherein the apparatus is configured such that a player or manipulates the at least one playing piece to play the game.

51. Use of the apparatus as claimed in claim 35 by one or more players to play the game.

Description:
The present invention relates to apparatus for playing a game and, in particular, to apparatus for playing a game in which playing pieces may be laid down to create words in three dimensions.

There are a number of well known word games and one such example is the game Scrabble®. Generally, these prior art word games are played in two dimensions on a flat playing surface. In order to increase the challenge of word games, attempts have been made to move such games into three dimensions, by allowing words to be created in more than one plane. Examples of such games include RSVP® and Upwords®.

An example of a prior art word game of this type is described in U.S. Pat. No. 3,930,651. This patent describes a game played using a number of cube-shaped playing pieces in which words can be created in three planes simultaneously. Each playing piece corresponds to a letter of the alphabet and has this letter of the alphabet printed on each of its six faces. Words are created by locating playing pieces into a cubic rack provided with playing piece receiving spaces. The provision of a rack having playing piece receiving spaces avoids one of the key problems with three dimensional word games addressed by the present invention, that is the creation of nonsense words (i.e. apparently random letters) when read from the reverse side of playing pieces in use in the game. However, this particular solution to the problem limits the extent to which the game may be played due to the size of the rack. In the preferred embodiment described in U.S. Pat. No. 3,930,651, only twenty-six playing pieces may be laid down at any one time. The provision of a larger grid to enable more playing pieces to be used is impractical because the size of the rack required quickly increases due to its three dimensional nature. Consequently, there is a requirement for an improved solution to this problem that overcomes the disadvantages of the prior art.

An example of another prior art word game of this type is described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,799,943. This patent describes a game played using a number of cube-shaped playing pieces which have openings and projections for the receiving and anchoring of other like playing pieces during play. These cube-shaped playing pieces have indicia provided on three sides but they may not be freely positioned because of the grid of the base playing surface used in play and the orientations of their respective connecting elements. Consequently, there is a need for an improved solution.

The present invention seeks to address the above problems of prior art three dimensional word games.

The present invention provides, in a first aspect, apparatus for playing a game comprising one or more multi-faceted playing pieces, each playing piece comprising:

six game sides arranged in a substantially cube-like orientation relative to one another; and

two like game indicia only, wherein:

the two like game indicia are arranged or formed so as to be visible on or through two game sides which are substantially perpendicular to one another.

In a second aspect, the present invention provides apparatus for playing a game comprising one or more multi-faceted playing pieces, each playing piece comprising:

six game sides arranged in a substantially cube-like orientation relative to one another; and

two like game indicia only, wherein:

the two like game indicia are arranged or formed so as to be visible on or through two perpendicular game sides, and

the or each playing piece is laid down in accordance with specified rules.

Preferably, each playing piece is substantially in the form of a cube, but the edges and/or corners of the cube may be rounded or facets may be cut along or into them. Alternatively, each playing piece may be of any form that allows it to be placed on a flat surface on six different planes, arranged like a cube, with the like game indicia provided so as to be visible on or through two of the game sides which are perpendicular to one another. Alternatively, each playing piece may be of any form that enables game indicia to be displayed in discrete locations on or within it. It is also envisaged that the playing pieces may have a greater number of sides, or may be spherical with faces attached to or cut in.

Preferably, the faces on which game indicia are provided are otherwise blank. In the preferred embodiment of the present invention the game indicia are the characters of the English language alphabet. Alternatively, the game indicia may be the characters of a different language (or languages). In a further alternative, the game indicia may belong to a numbering system, for example a system of Arabic numerals. In a still further alternative the game indicia may correspond to a set of symbols, or one or more colours. In a yet further alternative, the game indicia may comprise a bespoke set.

Although the game faces of the playing pieces that do not display game indicia may be left blank, they may alternatively be provided with a character, symbol or other indicia which is/are different to the game indicia. For example, merchandising logos or trademarks may be used. Alternatively the blank game sides may simply be a different colour.

Preferably, a single game indicia is located on each of two perpendicular game sides.

Preferably, the game indicia are taken from the alphabet.

Preferably, each playing piece is manufactured from an opaque material.

Alternatively, each playing piece may be manufactured from a transparent material.

Alternatively, each playing piece may be manufactured from a transparent material and one or more of the game sides may be rendered opaque.

In a third aspect, the present invention provides apparatus for playing a game comprising electrical and/or electronic means for generating an electronic representation of one or more multi-faceted playing pieces, each playing piece comprising:

six game sides arranged in a substantially cube-like orientation relative to one another; and

two like game indicia only, wherein:

the two like game indicia are arranged or formed so as to be visible on or through two game sides which are substantially perpendicular to one another.

In a fourth aspect, the present invention provides apparatus for playing a game comprising:

electrical and/or electronic means for generating an electronic representation of one or more playing pieces, wherein:

the one or more playing pieces are multi-faceted and comprise:

six game sides arranged in a substantially cube-like orientation relative to one another; and

two like game indicia only, wherein:

the two like game indicia are arranged or formed so as to be visible on or through two game sides which are substantially perpendicular to one another.

In a fifth aspect, the present invention provides apparatus for playing a game comprising electrical or electronic apparatus having input means and display means and wherein the one or more players use the input means to select an electronic representation of a playing piece and to place that playing piece in a desired location, wherein the display means during the game displays the playing pieces laid down by the one or more players.

Preferred embodiments of the present invention will now be described by way of example only with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first preferred embodiment of playing piece according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration of a cartesian system of axes adopted for play in the first preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 3a-3k are perspective views of alternative embodiments of playing piece according to the present invention;

FIGS. 4a-4d are side elevation views of yet further alternative embodiments of playing piece according to the present invention;

FIG. 5 illustrates a word formed along one axis using six playing pieces of the type illustrated in FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 illustrates the word of FIG. 5 to which a second word is added along a second axis using four further playing pieces of the type illustrated in FIG. 1;

FIG. 7 illustrates the two words of FIG. 6 to which a third word is added along a third axis using three further playing pieces of the type illustrated in FIG. 1;

FIGS. 8 and 9 illustrate the use of two playing pieces as ‘blocking pieces’ with the three words formed in FIG. 7;

FIG. 10 illustrates the use of a ‘wildcard’ playing piece;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a playing piece according to a yet further embodiment of the present invention; and

FIGS. 12 and 13 illustrate words formed along the three axes using playing pieces of the type illustrated in FIG. 1 and/or FIG. 11.

The present invention provides apparatus for playing a game and simply comprises one or more playing pieces which are laid down on a surface and/or each other in accordance with rules of the game.

A first preferred embodiment of playing piece 10 according to the present invention is shown in FIG. 1. Each such playing piece 10 is in the form of a known cube-like die (i.e. has six similarly sized sides 15 of substantially square form which may be provided with radius edges and corners). Each of the six sides 15 are known as ‘game sides’ 15 and are related to one another as are the sides of a cube. Each playing piece 10 is provided with two like ‘game indicia’ 20 only (e.g. alphabetic, numeric or other indicia types), one on each of two perpendicular sides 15. These two like game indicia 20 are positioned on the respective two game sides 15 so that they have the same orientation when viewed from above and from the front of the playing piece 10, as can best be seen in FIG. 1. The remaining four game sides 15 of each playing piece 10 remain blank or are otherwise visibly distinct from the two game sides 15 comprising like game indicia 20. The term ‘like game indicia’ used herein takes the meaning that the same message, meaning or visual indication is conveyed by the two like indicia 20 to a player or spectator of the game. For example, two like game indicia 20 may comprise ‘A’ (uppercase) and ‘a’ (lowercase), different typeface ‘A’s or differently coloured ‘A’ and ‘A’. Nonetheless, whichever example is adopted, the meaning of the letter ‘A’ is conveyed to players and spectators of the game. Further indicia may be provided in addition to the like game indicia 20 and these further indicia may be the same or different to each other but not the same as the like game indicia 20. The six game sides 15 of each playing piece 10 are substantially planar so as to enable the playing pieces 10 to be stacked adjacent to and/or on top of one another to facilitate play during a game (i.e. in the manner of a cube-like die). Velcro®, magnetic or other temporary fastening means may optionally be provided on some or each playing piece 10 to enable each playing piece 10 to be removably attached to another one or more playing pieces 10 during play. Each playing piece 10 may form part of a set of playing pieces 10 used for playing a game. For example, in this first preferred embodiment, each playing piece 10 comprises an indicia of the English language alphabet as its like game indicia 20, and the set comprises at least twenty-six playing pieces 10, one for each letter of the alphabet. Ideally, to provide enough letters for play, more than one set may be employed or each set may comprise playing pieces 10 for each of the at least twenty-six letters of the alphabet plus be provided with additional numbers of playing pieces 10 for, say, vowels, for example. Other characters or symbols (e.g. !,″,£,$,%,̂,&,?,* etc.) may be provided on one or more playing pieces 10 in a set to provide a ‘wildcard’ or other function as illustrated in FIG. 10 and described further below. Other sets of playing pieces 10 may be offered in addition to or as an alternative to the English alphabet set described above. Examples include alternative language alphabets, themed, merchandised or other character/indicia sets. Furthermore, a set of playing pieces 10 may take the form of truncated or selective set of what would otherwise form a full set. Also, bespoke sets of playing pieces 10 are also possible.

It is envisaged that the apparatus of the present invention may be utilised in a number of different games having different rules of play. An example of a game played using playing pieces 10 according to the first preferred embodiment of the present invention will now be described by way of example only. The game may be played by any number of players from one upwards. In practice, the number of players is restricted only by the number of playing pieces 10 in the set. Accordingly, the number of playing pieces 10 provided in a set is of course variable to cater for this. The game commences with each of the players selecting at random a number of playing pieces 10 from the available set. Each player's selection is referred to as their ‘hand’. Typically, each player selects seven playing pieces 10. Preferably, each player holds the playing pieces 10 in a manner such that they may not be viewed by any other player of the game. A player is selected to start the game. The choice of which player starts may be defined in the rules or may be arbitrary. The first player lays down one or more playing pieces 10 from their hand to form a word. Playing pieces 10 can be laid down on any one of their game sides 15 in any of the three axes illustrated in FIG. 2 (i.e. ‘across’, ‘down’ or ‘vertical’) to form one or more words. The axes illustrated define the planes in which words may be created and the directions in which they should be read. As in a crossword puzzle, the indicia 20 seen from above or front of each playing piece 10 can be read across and/or down. All playing pieces 10 that are laid down should be in sufficiently close proximity with all other playing pieces 10 previously laid down that any game indicia 20 on a game face 15 to be covered cannot be readily seen. Optionally, once the word or words have been formed by the laying down of playing pieces 10 a score may be determined and allotted to the player in accordance with predefined rules. The score may be determined according to a points system in which points are allotted in dependence upon the value of the game indicia 20 of each playing piece 10. If the same word is visible from two directions e.g. from above and from the front, this may qualify for one score or two scores, again in dependence upon the rules of the game. Addition of the points scored by a player in each turn of play may provide a total score to be allocated to that player. The player then replenishes their hand by taking at random a number of new playing pieces 10 corresponding to the number of playing pieces 10 laid down. If at the start of his or her turn of play that player is unable to create a word or does not wish to lay down any playing pieces 10 from their hand, then the next player takes their turn. A first turn of play of a game is exemplified in FIG. 5. Here, the word ‘simple’ can be seen to have been formed from six playing pieces 10 laid down in the ‘across’ direction of play. The word ‘simple’ can be read from the front and from above. The next player then takes their turn. If the next player wishes to lay down playing pieces 10 to form a word then at least one of these playing pieces 10 must be positioned adjacent to or so as to adjoin one of the playing pieces 10 that has been laid down previously. FIG. 6 exemplifies a second turn of play of the same game. Here, the word ‘words’ can be seen to have been formed from four additional playing pieces 10 laid down in the ‘down’ direction of play. It will be appreciated that the word could have been formed in the ‘vertical’ direction of play as described below for the next turn of play with reference to FIG. 7. This second word can be read in the ‘down’ direction, but is visible from above only and not directly from the front due to the adjacent positioning of the playing pieces 10. This can have an effect on scoring in dependence upon the rules of the game. FIG. 7 exemplifies a further word ‘pile’ formed in the ‘vertical’ direction of play from three additional playing pieces 10. This may be as part of a continuation of the second turn of play (provided that player has enough playing pieces 10 to do so) or may be a new third turn of play. Indeed, in any turn of play a player may form more than one word provided they have enough playing pieces 10 in their hand to do so.

In a further aspect of the game, the playing pieces 10 may be laid down on a game face 15 in an orientation in which no game indicia 20 (letters in this embodiment) are visible. In this orientation, the playing pieces 10 act as blanks which enable other playing pieces 10 to be laid down to create words that would not otherwise be possible. An example of the use of playing pieces 10 in this manner is shown in FIGS. 8 and 9. In FIG. 8, two playing pieces 50, 60 can be seen positioned on top of and adjacent to other playing pieces 10 such that neither of the game indicia 20 provided on playing pieces 50, 60 are visible. These two playing pieces 50, 60 act as supporting blocks for a third playing piece 70 as can be seen in FIG. 9. FIG. 9 illustrates the completed turn, started in FIG. 8, with the playing piece 70 in position to form the word ‘up’ in the ‘across’ direction (seen from above and front).

The game finishes when either all of the playing pieces 10 have been laid down or when it is not possible to validly lay down any further playing pieces 10. It may be that the rules dictate the player that has been allotted the greatest number of points is deemed to have won the game.

FIG. 10 illustrates further possibilities in a game. The word ‘them’ is formed in a ‘vertical’ direction. The top playing piece 80 is positioned such that no game indicia 20 is visible from above. Also illustrated in FIG. 10 is a ‘wildcard’ playing piece 90 having ‘?’ as the indicium 20. This has the effect that two words ‘simple’ or ‘sample’ can be formed in the single run ‘across’ of playing pieces 10. Furthermore, playing piece 100 illustrates the use the numeral ‘3’ as a game indicium 20 to generate commonly used terms such as, for example, ‘3D’.

In FIG. 11, there is illustrated a perspective view of a playing piece 210 according to a further embodiment of the present invention. In this embodiment, the like game indicia 220 are provided on two perpendicular sides 215 of the playing piece such that words formed using this type of playing piece 210 can be read from the front and one side. FIGS. 12 and 13 illustrate words formed along the three axes using playing pieces of the type illustrated in FIG. 11 and in FIG. 1. The use of sets of both types of playing piece 10, 210 gives players of the game many more options for play as can be readily appreciated from the words formed in these Figures. In FIG. 13, for example, there is shown a solution using combinations of the two types of playing pieces 10, 210. Most of the solution is that as shown in FIG. 12 with the playing pieces 210 of FIG. 11, but the playing pieces 110, 120 representing indicia ‘P’ and ‘I’ respectively are formed with playing pieces 10 of the form illustrated in FIG. 1.

The playing pieces 10, 210 may be formed from any natural or man-made materials such as, for example, wood, stone, metal, plastic, glass, composite material or any combination thereof.

The playing of a three-dimensional word game using the playing pieces of the present invention may be facilitated by the use of any surface. However, a bespoke platform may be used as a playing surface (e.g. a stage or staggered platform). Preferably, such a bespoke platform may be made of a transparent material. In order to help form and maintain the three dimensional shapes on such a platform using playing pieces 10, 210, the platform and/or playing pieces 10, 210 may be provided with support rods, magnets and/or magnetic surfaces, Velcro® or any other temporary mechanical fastening means. It is envisaged that these variations of the present invention will be of particular utility/interest in travel versions of the game.

Alternative embodiments of playing piece in accordance with the present invention are shown in FIGS. 3a-3k and FIGS. 4a-4d. What is common to all embodiments of playing piece according to the present invention and described herein is that each has six key sides 15 or planes (the so-called ‘game sides’ or ‘game faces’) on which the playing piece 10 may be laid down or stacked. These six key game sides or faces are arranged in a cube-like orientation relative to one another and two, but only two, of these game sides have or display therethrough the like game indicia.

FIG. 3a illustrates a playing piece taking the form of a hollow box with part of one side missing. The two game indicia may be arranged on two perpendicular sides in accordance with the orientation described for the playing piece of FIG. 1 (as shown) or of FIG. 11.

FIG. 3b illustrates a hollow box with part of two opposite sides missing, so that it can be seen through. The two like game indicia are arranged according to the orientation of the game indicia of FIG. 1, but they could alternatively be arranged as in FIG. 11.

FIG. 3c illustrates a hollow box with part of three sides missing, so that it can be seen through. As with the other playing pieces, it can be stacked or laid down on any one of its six game sides. The game indicia are arranged according to the game indicia of FIG. 1, but they could alternatively be arranged as in FIG. 11. Alternatively, the indicia could have been placed on the left and top outer sides of the playing piece 10 as viewed.

FIG. 3d illustrates a solid transparent playing piece with four sides rendered opaque so that it can be seen through such as in the direction of the arrow as shown. The game indicia are arranged according to the orientation shown in FIG. 1 but could have been arranged as shown in FIG. 11.

FIG. 3e illustrates a transparent playing piece with three sides rendered opaque so that it can be seen through in certain directions only. The game indicia are arranged according to the game indicia of FIG. 1, but they could alternatively be arranged as in FIG. 11. Also, the game indicia could have been placed on the left and top sides of the playing piece as viewed.

FIG. 3f illustrates a transparent playing piece with two sides rendered opaque so that it can be seen through in certain directions only. The game indicia are arranged according to the to the game indicia of FIG. 1, but they could alternatively be arranged as in FIG. 11.

FIG. 3g illustrates another alternative to the FIG. 3c embodiment of playing piece but with the game indicia arranged on different sides. One game indicium is effectively inside the playing piece and can be viewed best from the side (the right hand side as shown). Strictly speaking, as viewed, the game indicia are arranged in a different orientation to that of FIG. 1 and FIG. 11, but they are arranged so as to be of the same orientation when viewed from the upper right hand side of the playing piece. Alternatively, the game indicia could be arranged as in FIG. 1 or FIG. 11.

FIG. 3h illustrates a solid transparent version of the FIG. 3g embodiment of playing piece. The game indicia could be provided on different surfaces to those indicated in this Figure.

FIG. 3i illustrates another alternative embodiment of a solid but transparent playing piece. The like game indicia are arranged on the inside of the transparent playing piece. Again, the game indicia can be seen from the top and the side, the latter shown by the arrow. The game indicia are arranged according to the orientation shown in FIG. 1 but could alternatively be arranged as shown in FIG. 11. Also, the game indicia could be provided on different surfaces or sides to those indicated in this Figure.

FIGS. 3j and 3k illustrate yet further possible embodiments of playing piece according to the present invention. Each can be placed on a surface or another playing piece on any of its six game sides and the like game indicia may be located on any two surfaces or sides perpendicular to each other. Furthermore, it will be appreciated that the game indicia may even be provided inside of an at least partially transparent playing piece (e.g. a solid version of the FIG. 3k embodiment shown with the indicia encased within).

FIGS. 4a-4d illustrate two further possible embodiments of playing piece according to the present invention. In FIG. 4a there is illustrated a shape where six substantially equally-sized faces are cut into a sphere. The faces are related as are the sides of a cube. The view towards all six game sides will be the same as shown, save that the view of or through two perpendicular game sides will yield the like game indicia arranged as in either FIG. 1 or FIG. 11. The size of the face could of course differ from that indicated. A transparent version of this type of playing piece, having opaque faces, could be also be used. FIG. 4b illustrates the same shape of playing piece as in FIG. 4a, but with a hole through the centre. The like game indicia are provided on the perpendicular game sides indicated by the arrows.

FIG. 4c illustrates an example of a polyhedron which has six game sides related in the manner of those of a cube, two perpendicular game sides of which are marked with, or enable a player to view, the like game indicia (one being visible in this Figure). A transparent version of this type of playing piece could also be used. FIG. 4d illustrates the same shape of playing piece as in FIG. 4c, but with a hole through the centre. The game indicia are provided on the faces indicated by the arrows.

It will be appreciated that many further embodiments of playing piece are possible within the scope of the present invention. What is common to all embodiments of playing piece according to the present invention, however, is that each playing piece has six key sides, faces or planes (the so-called ‘game sides’) on which the playing piece may be laid down or stacked. These six key game sides are arranged in a cube-like orientation relative to one another and two, but only two, of these game sides have, display or enable to be viewed therethrough the like game indicia.

Whilst the game indicia described herein can be printed on a game side or take the form of decals, embossing, etching or engraving on or within a playing piece, it will be appreciated that many other embodiments are possible. For example, the game indicia on each playing piece may be achieved using mirrors or mirrored surfaces, holograms and/or an electronic visual display(s) such as an LCD or other thin screen display element.

A game side, face or plane of a playing piece is that on which it may be rested or stacked. The game side may filled, open and/or its boundaries may be incomplete, as indicated in the Figures. Also, it will be appreciated that the terms ‘side’, ‘face’ and ‘plane’ referred to herein take the same meaning and are used interchangeably.

The present invention is not limited to the physical apparatus described and it will be appreciated that the game could be equally well embodied in apparatus comprising electrical or electronic apparatus, typically a computer, games console or mobile telephone. The electrical or electronic apparatus will be provided with display means, typically a visual display unit or thin screen display (e.g. an LCD) and also with input means, typically a keyboard, game controller, joystick, mouse or touch screen. The electrical or electronic apparatus may act as the interface between two or more players or may itself act as a player. The electrical or electronic apparatus will create and display the necessary playing pieces and the location of playing pieces that have been laid down in accordance with a player's input (or input of the electronic processing means where it acts as a player) and will, where necessary, calculate the score to be allotted to a player for those playing pieces laid down. The electrical or electronic apparatus will also act as a randomiser for the selection of playing pieces to make up the initial complement allocated to a player and to replace those playing pieces laid down by a player. The electrical or electronic apparatus may take the form of a personal computer, personal digital assistant (PDA), telephone or mobile telephone, television, GameBoy®, PlayStation®, XBox® or other device, for example.

It will be appreciated that the present invention addresses two key problems of the prior art. The first is the nonsense words seen at the back of cubes which have letters on all faces and the second is a method of supporting the playing pieces in the vertical direction. The first problem is overcome by having like game indicia on only two of the sides of a playing piece having six game sides arranged in a cube-like manner, the game indicia being perpendicular to each other or arranged so as to be visible through two perpendicular game sides. It is possible to position the indicia on such sides in two arrangements, as described and shown, and three dimensional word games can be played with either or both of these types of playing piece. The second problem is elegantly overcome because such playing pieces can be positioned so that none of the game indicia are visible. This renders the playing piece as a simple block which can be used to support other playing pieces above the playing surface.