Title:
Gaming Machine with Environment Aware Audio Configuration
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A computerized wagering game system has a gaming module comprising a processor and gaming code which is operable when executed on the processor to conduct a wagering game on which monetary value can be wagered. An audio configuration module is operable to provide a graphical volume control interface that can be used to set at least one volume setting of the computerized wagering game system. The graphical volume control interface also provides a user interface for setting environmental characteristics of the wagering game machine, and setting multiple volume settings that are in some embodiments interrelated.



Inventors:
Pryzby, Eric M. (Skokie, IL, US)
Thomas, Alfred (Las Vegas, NV, US)
Application Number:
11/573114
Publication Date:
03/13/2008
Filing Date:
08/01/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
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20100069148Online Games Integrated with Offline Fitness, Environmental, and Other ActivitiesMarch, 2010Cargill
20100041482RECOMMENDATION GENERATOR AND METHOD FOR DETERMINING AFFINITIES TO PARTICIPATE IN A VENTURE EXCHANGEFebruary, 2010Kumar et al.
20090082109MULTIPURPOSE EGM/PLAYER TRACKING DEVICE AND SYSTEMMarch, 2009Sepich et al.
20080064463GAMING SYSTEM AND A GAMING METHODMarch, 2008Bennett



Primary Examiner:
HENRY, THOMAS HAYNES
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NIXON PEABODY LLP (70 West Madison, Suite 3500, CHICAGO, IL, 60602, US)
Claims:
1. A computerized wagering game system, comprising: a gaming module comprising a processor and gaming code which is operable when executed on the processor to conduct a wagering game on which monetary value can be wagered; an audio configuration module, the audio configuration module operable to provide a graphical volume control interface, the graphical volume control interface operable to set at least one volume setting of the computerized wagering game system.

2. The computerized wagering game system of claim 1, wherein the volume of the audio source set by the graphical volume control interface is also subject to a master volume setting.

3. The computerized wagering game system of claim 2, wherein the master volume setting is also set via a graphical volume control interface.

4. The computerized wagering game system of claim 1, wherein the graphical volume control interface comprises environmental settings.

5. The computerized wagering game system of claim 4, wherein the environmental settings comprise at least one of neighboring wagering game system locations, wall behind settings, aisle settings, and corner location settings.

6. The computerized wagering game system of claim 1, wherein the volume settings configurable via the graphical volume control interface comprise at least one of jackpot, attract mode, bonus, and master volume.

7. The computerized wagering game system of claim 1, wherein the graphical volume control interface is further operable to set volume for various times of day.

8. The computerized wagering game system of claim 1, wherein the graphical volume control interface is operable to control the volume between a maximum volume setting and a minimum nonzero volume setting.

9. The computerized wagering game system of claim 1, wherein the graphical volume control interface is further implemented on a remote computerized system from which volume settings on the computerized wagering game can be controlled.

10. The computerized wagering game system of claim 1, wherein the graphical volume control interface is presented as a wizard, the wizard operable to step a user through multiple volume control setting steps.

11. A method of operating a computerized wagering game system, comprising: conducting a wagering game on which monetary value can be wagered by executing gaming code on a processor; setting at least one volume setting of the computerized wagering game system via an audio configuration module comprising a graphical volume control interface.

12. The method of claim 11, further comprising setting a master volume setting, wherein the volume of the audio source set by the graphical volume control interface is also subject to the master volume setting.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein the master volume setting is also set via a graphical volume control interface.

14. The method of claim 11, wherein the graphical volume control interface comprises environmental settings.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein the environmental settings comprise at least one of neighboring wagering game system locations, wall behind settings, aisle settings, and corner location settings.

16. The method of claim 11, wherein the volume settings configurable via the graphical volume control interface comprise at least one of jackpot, attract mode, bonus, and master volume.

17. The method of claim 11, further comprising setting volumes for various times of day via the graphical volume control interface.

18. The method of claim 11, wherein the graphical volume control interface is operable to control the volume between a maximum volume setting and a minimum nonzero volume setting.

19. The method of claim 11, wherein the graphical volume control interface is further implemented on a remote computerized system from which volume settings on the computerized wagering game can be controlled.

20. The method of claim 11, wherein the graphical volume control interface is presented as a wizard, the wizard operable to step a user through multiple volume control setting steps.

21. A machine-readable medium with instructions stored thereon, the instructions when executed operable to cause a computerized wagering game system to: play a wagering game on which monetary value can be wagered by executing gaming code on a processor; set at least one volume setting of the computerized wagering game system via an audio configuration module comprising a graphical volume control interface operable to receive user input.

22. The machine-readable medium of claim 21, the instructions further operable to set a master volume setting, wherein the volume of the audio source set by the graphical volume control interface is also subject to the master volume setting.

23. The machine-readable medium of claim 22, wherein the master volume setting is also set via a graphical volume control interface operable to receive user input.

24. The machine-readable medium of claim 21, wherein the graphical volume control interface comprises environmental settings.

25. The machine-readable medium of claim 24, wherein the environmental settings comprise at least one of neighboring wagering game system locations, wall behind settings, aisle settings, and corner location settings.

26. The machine-readable medium of claim 21, wherein the volume settings configurable via the graphical volume control interface comprise at least one of jackpot, attract mode, bonus, and master volume.

27. The machine-readable medium of claim 21, the instructions further operable to set volumes for various times of day via input received through the graphical volume control interface.

28. The machine-readable medium of claim 21, wherein the graphical volume control interface is operable to control the volume between a maximum volume setting and a minimum nonzero volume setting.

29. The machine-readable medium of claim 21, wherein the graphical volume control interface is further implemented on a remote computerized system from which volume settings on the computerized wagering game can be controlled.

30. The machine-readable medium of claim 21, wherein the graphical volume control interface is presented as a wizard, the wizard operable to step a user through multiple volume control setting steps.

31. An audio control interface operable to control multiple volume settings in a computerized wagering game system, comprising: a graphical volume control interface displayed on a display of the computerized wagering game system, and operable to indicate at least one present volume setting and at least one alternate volume setting; one or more inputs operable to select and set a volume setting presented by the graphical volume control interface.

32. The audio control interface of claim 31, the interface further operable to play a sound at the volume setting selected via the graphical user interface and the one or more inputs upon at least one of selection of the volume level or setting the selected volume level.

33. The audio control interface of claim 31, wherein the one or more inputs comprise at least one of a touchscreen or buttons.

34. An audio control wizard operable to control multiple volume settings in a computerized wagering game system, comprising: a graphical volume control interface displayed on a display of the computerized wagering game system, and operable to indicate at least one present volume setting and at least one alternate volume setting; one or more inputs operable to select a volume setting presented by the graphical volume control interface; a wizard program operable to step a user through setting multiple volume levels via the graphical volume control interface and the one or more inputs.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the priority benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/598,035, filed 2 Aug. 2004, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

LIMITED COPYRIGHT WAIVER

A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material to which the claim of copyright protection is made. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by any person of the patent document or the patent disclosure, as it appears in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office file or records, but reserves all other rights whatsoever.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates generally to wagering gaming systems, and more specifically to a wagering game machine with environment-aware audio configuration.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A wide variety of gaming devices are now available to gamers and to casino operators in computerized form, from slot machines to games that are traditionally played live such as poker and blackjack. These computerized games provide many benefits to the game owner and to the gambler, including greater reliability than can be achieved with a mechanical game or human dealer, more variety, sound, and animation in presentation of a game, and a lower overall cost of production and management.

Computerized video game systems must be designed with many of the same concerns as their mechanical and table game ancestors—they must be fair, they must provide sufficient feedback to the gamer to make the game fun to play, and they must meet a variety of gaming regulations to ensure that both the machine owner and gamer are honest and fairly treated in implementing the game. Further, they must provide a gaming experience that is at least as attractive as the older mechanical gaming machine experience to the gamer, to ensure success in a competitive gaming market.

Part of the gaming experience presented to game players is an audio and visual presentation that continually grows more sophisticated and complex, as computerized wagering game systems rapidly adopt new technologies. But, as wagering game systems increase in capability and complexity, the knowledge and effort required to configure them to take full advantage of their capabilities can increase undesirably.

For example, setting the audio features of a traditional wagering game simply comprised turning a single potentiometer or mechanical volume control knob hidden within the wagering game machine until the volume knob appeared to be set at the desired level. But, with the advent of computerized wagering game systems, more sophisticated methods such as electronically altering the wagering game system volume have become more common, and in many environments require less effort to employ.

But, even modern digital control of such features typically ignores a number of factors, including environment-specific information such as the location of the machine and the nature of its surroundings. The physical construction of a gaming establishment, the physical location of nearby gaming machines, and other such factors are therefore not compensated except by the ear or judgment of the last person to have fiddled with the wagering game's volume control. Such a method can lead to inconsistent or poor volume settings, and is less than ideal. It is therefore desired that a wagering game system incorporate environmental-aware audio configuration.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides in one embodiment a computerized wagering game system having a gaming module comprising a processor and gaming code which is operable when executed on the processor to conduct a wagering game on which monetary value can be wagered, and an audio configuration module operable to provide a graphical volume control interface that can be used to set at least one volume setting of the computerized wagering game system. Further embodiments comprise setting environmental characteristics of the wagering game machine, and setting multiple volume settings that are in some embodiments interrelated.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 shows a computerized reel slot gaming system having an audio system, upon which the present invention may be practiced in some embodiments.

FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a computerized wagering game having a graphical volume control interface, consistent with an example embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 shows an example display image of a graphical volume control interface, consistent with an example embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 shows an example display image of an environmental configuration display, consistent with an example embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 shows an example display image of a time-of-day volume configuration display, consistent with an example embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the following detailed description of sample embodiments of the invention, reference is made to the accompanying drawings which form a part hereof, and in which is shown by way of illustration specific sample embodiments in which the invention may be practiced. These embodiments are described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention, and it is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized and that logical, mechanical, electrical, and other changes may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the present invention. The following detailed description is, therefore, not to be taken in a limiting sense, and the scope of the invention is defined only by the appended claims.

The present invention provides in one embodiment a computerized wagering game system having a gaming module comprising a processor and gaming code which is operable when executed on the processor to conduct a wagering game on which monetary value can be wagered, and an audio configuration module operable to provide a graphical volume control interface that can be used to set at least one volume setting of the computerized wagering game system. Further embodiments comprise setting environmental characteristics of the wagering game machine upon which the wagering game system's volume settings are dependent, and setting multiple volume settings that are in some embodiments interrelated.

FIG. 1 illustrates a computerized wagering game machine, as may be used to practice some embodiments of the present invention. The computerized gaming system shown generally at 100 is a video gaming system, which displays information for at least one wagering game upon which monetary value can be wagered on video display 101. Alternate embodiments of the invention will have other game indicators, such as mechanical reels instead of the video graphics reels 102. The game of chance is played and controlled with various buttons 103, and in some embodiments also with a pull arm 104 to initiate reel spin. Value is wagered on the games, such as with tokens, coins, bills, or cards that hold value. The wagered value is conveyed to the machine through a changer 105 or a secure user identification module interface 106, and winnings are returned via the returned value card or through the coin tray 107. Sound is also provided through speakers 108, and is regulated by one or more volume settings within the computerized wagering game machine.

FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a computerized wagering game system having a graphical volume control interface, consistent with an example embodiment of the present invention. At the center of the system is a processor 201, which executes program instructions to conduct the wagering game and to perform other functions. The wagering game is presented to game players via a display 202, which is also used to present the graphical volume control interface when appropriate. In some further embodiments of the wagering game system, display 202 also includes a touchscreen overlay on the display, which enables a user to provide input to the wagering game system by touching a selected location on the screen.

The graphical volume control interface is in some embodiments initialized by use of a key, an electronic identification, or by a switch located inside the wagering game machine that can be actuated to initiate a configuration mode. These or other such security measures ensure that only authorized users are able to use the configuration functions of the wagering game machine, and ensure that such settings are not presented to game players.

The wagering game machine further comprises nonvolatile storage 203, for storing game code, the state of a game being played, and game setting such as volume settings. The audio signal presented to a game player or other wagering game machine user is managed via an audio module 204, and is played through speakers 205. Various embodiments of wagering game machines also feature buttons 206 for input, and a clock 207 that keeps time and indicates the time to the wagering game system.

In operation, configuration mode is entered or volume control settings are accessed by some other means. The volume control is presented graphically, such as using dials, a slider, radio buttons, or other such graphical displays. FIG. 3 shows an example display image of a graphical volume control interface, consistent with an example embodiment of the present invention. A master volume setting, shown at 301, is presently set one volume level below maximum, as shown by the double-box. In different embodiments, any other suitable method of indicating a selected volume level will be used, including varying color, position, or other characteristics of a graphical element.

In addition to the master volume setting, one or more other volume settings, such as jackpot sound volume 302, attract mode volume 303, and bonus volume level 304 can be similarly set. These secondary volume settings are relative to the master volume setting, and each rises or falls as the master volume setting is changed. More specifically, the volume of a particular element, such as the jackpot, is dependent upon both the master volume setting and the particular element volume setting. This enables not only adjustment of the overall volume level of the machine via the master volume setting, but also relative volume adjustment of different sounds via the element volume settings. For example, the attract mode volume for sounds played while a machine is not being played but is trying to attract game players may often be set lower than the jackpot or bonus volume levels, irrespective of the overall volume level settings for the wagering game system. FIG. 3 reflects such a setting, where the jackpot setting is maximum relative volume, while the attract mode sounds are set to a medium relative volume.

Note also that this particular embodiment of the invention does not provide for sounds to be selectively disabled, or for the master volume to be set to zero. Each volume control has a maximum volume level, a minimum but nonzero volume level, and a range of intermediate volume levels. This enables customization of relative volume levels and setting a master volume level without risking that a particular sound will not be heard.

Referring again to FIG. 2, the volume settings selected via user inputs such as a touchscreen on display 202 or buttons 206 are stored on nonvolatile storage 203, and are used via the processor 201 to instruct the audio module 204 to play various sounds through speakers 205 at the appropriate volume level. In further embodiments, environmental settings such as the computerized wagering game's physical position are set via a similar configuration screen as shown in FIG. 4, and clock 207 is used to determine the time of day for time-specific volume settings as shown in FIG. 5.

FIG. 4 is a screen image of one example embodiment of an environmental audio configuration input screen. The physical location of the computerized wagering game machine is indicated by the game graphic at 401, while the double box around the wall behind graphic at 402 indicates that present settings indicate that there is a wall directly behind the machine. As before, the graphical indicators may take any form, including varying color, text, images presented, or other such changes to indicate when a particular graphic is selected or deselected. The R graphic shown at 403 is similarly double-boxed at 403, indicating that there is a neighboring computerized wagering game machine to the right of the machine presently being configured, but the L graphic shown at 404 is not selected, indicating that there is no computerized wagering game system to the left of the machine being configured.

The environmental configuration settings such as those shown in FIG. 4 are used in some embodiments of the present invention to vary the phase, frequency response, volume, and other characteristics of the audio produced by the computerized wagering game system. For example, a wagering game placed near a wall may have its bass output reduced to compensate for reflection of low-frequency sounds off a wall to the rear or side of the machine. Similarly, volume may be reduced and phase may be changed if a wagering game machine is to one side of the configured computerized wagering game machine, and volume may be further reduced and phase may be further shifted if other machines are present both to the right and to the left of the wagering game machine being configured.

In further embodiments of the invention, greater customization will be possible, such as by creating a map of the are in which the computerized wagering game system is installed. A master map is created in some variations, and can be loaded into multiple wagering game machines or distributed via network to multiple wagering game systems in an area. Further network embodiments will include the ability to configure more than one computerized wagering games' audio systems via a graphical user interface on a single wagering game machine within the group, or via a graphical user interface on a controller or other networked device.

FIG. 5 illustrates how the time of day may be considered as another environmental factor in self-changing the audio configuration of a computerized wagering game machine. Times of day are selected or are predetermined and presented as shown at 501, which indicates a particular volume setting is to take effect at 2:00 a.m. Looking to the left, it can be seen at 502 that the volume setting for 2:00 a.m. is maximum, again as indicated by the double boxes around the currently selected volume level. At 5:00 a.m., the volume level drops to one step above a minimum volume, and the volume level drops further to the minimum volume at 8:00 a.m. At 7:30 p.m., the volume increases to a middle level, and it increases further to one level below maximum volume at 11:00 p.m. In some embodiments, the volume changes gradually over a period of minutes or at a certain rate until it has reached the new volume setting, so that the change in volume is not abrupt and obvious or startling to game players.

These changes in volume are selected based on anticipated environmental volume levels at these specific times of day. In further embodiments, the change in volume is dependent on detected environmental noise levels, such as via a microphone in the wagering game machine that is operable to sample environmental sounds. For example, a microphone may monitor the audible sounds in a gaming establishment, and use the average volume level over the past several minutes to set the wagering game's volume level.

These are examples of many ways in which the present invention may be employed to change an audio configuration using environmental conditions. The graphical user interface of the present invention facilitates setting computerized wagering game machines to be responsive to environmental conditions, and simplifies the wagering game configuration process. Although specific embodiments have been illustrated and described herein, it will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art that any arrangement which is calculated to achieve the same purpose may be substituted for the specific embodiments shown. This application is intended to cover any adaptations or variations of the invention. It is intended that this invention be limited only by the claims, and the full scope of equivalents thereof.