Title:
Electronic or mechanical game with configurable columns
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
In accordance with the principles of the present invention, a game and method for interactive play are provided. In one embodiment, the game and method can comprise a game of chance and a bet is received. A random generation event is initiated. In one embodiment, the random generation event is the random generation of one of a plurality of symbols. In the absence of the receipt of an additional bet, an additional random generation event is initiated. In one embodiment, the additional random generation event is the random generation of another of the plurality of symbols. At the conclusion of a number of random generation events, the outcomes of the number of random generation events are utilized to determine the outcome of the game. In one embodiment, at the conclusion of the number of random generated symbols, the symbols are compared to a predetermined pay table to determine the outcome of the game.



Inventors:
Frohm, Erica (Evanston, IL, US)
Stallone, Michael (Chicago, IL, US)
Mcinemy, Paul (Los Angeles, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/983876
Publication Date:
01/01/2009
Filing Date:
11/13/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
273/454, 463/16, 463/36
International Classes:
A63F9/24; A63F9/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
ROWLAND, STEVE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Paul E Schaafsma (NovusIP, LLC Suite 221 521 West Superior Street, Chicago, IL, 60610-3135, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An electronic game for interactive play comprising: a display screen having at least one column, at least one of the columns adapted to display a symbol responsive to a symbol generation command; and at the conclusion of the symbol generation a player obtains a random symbol, the displayed symbol is compared to at least one predetermined symbol to determine the payout of the game on a column specific basis, and a pay table is developed for each variation of the game.

2. The electronic game according to claim 1 further wherein the number of columns and number of spins are variable for each game.

3. The electronic game according to claim 2 further wherein the number of columns and number of spins are variable, and the number of spins for each column is variable.

4. The electronic game according to claim 2 further wherein a game participant may select a column or columns to change, may select a row or rows to change, and may select column or columns and a row or rows to change, in order to match a symbol presented by new symbol generation in the columns.

5. The electronic game according to claim 4 further wherein a game participant may select to have in each row or column change in unison with another row, column, rows or columns; may select to have in each row or column change individually from other columns; or may select to have in each row or column change in staggered fashion.

6. The electronic game according to claim 5 further wherein during change of the rows or columns at least one symbol will present an appearance as if the symbol is outstanding from a plane of the initial two dimensional display.

7. The electronic game according to claim 6 further wherein a player may elect to retain a single row bearing the result of the change and change the remaining rows.

8. The electronic game according to claim 1 further comprising a player selected symbol.

9. A mechanical machine game comprising: a display panel having a plurality of columns, at least one of the columns displaying a symbol responsive to a symbol generation; and at the conclusion of the symbol generation a player obtains a random symbol, the displayed symbol is compared to at least one predetermined symbol to determine the payout of the game on a column specific basis, and a pay table is developed for each variation of the game.

10. The mechanical machine game according to claim 9 further wherein the number of columns and number of spins are variable for each game.

11. The mechanical machine game according to claim 9 further wherein the number of columns and number of spins are variable, and the number of spins for each column is variable.

12. The mechanical machine game according to claim 11 further wherein a game participant may select a column or columns to change and/or a row or rows to change in order to match symbol presented by new symbol generation in the columns.

13. The mechanical machine game according to claim 12 further wherein a game participant may select to have each row or column change in unison with another row, column, rows or columns; may select to have each row or column change individually from other columns; or may select to have in each row or column change in staggered fashion.

14. The mechanical machine game according to claim 13 further wherein during change of the rows or columns at least one the symbol, will present an appearance as if the symbol are outstanding from a plane of the initial two dimensional display.

15. The mechanical machine game according to claim 10 further wherein a player may elect to retain a single row bearing the result of the change and change the remaining rows.

16. A game according to claim 9 further comprising a player selected symbol.

17. A game for interactive play comprising: a display having at least one column; a symbol generation command that randomly generates one of a plurality of symbols, the randomly generated symbol being displayed in the at least one column; the randomly generated symbol being compared to a previously accumulated symbol and, if the randomly generated symbol is the same as the previously accumulated symbol the randomly generated symbol is accumulated in the at least one column; and at the conclusion of a number of symbol generation commands the accumulated symbols are compared to a predetermined pay table to determine the outcome of the game.

18. The game for interactive play according to claim 17 further wherein a plurality of columns is provided and a separate game is played on each column.

19. The game for interactive play according to claim 17 further wherein the number of symbol generation commands is five per game.

20. The game for interactive play according to claim 17 further wherein the game is mechanical.

21. The game for interactive play according to claim 17 further wherein the game is electronic.

22. The game for interactive play according to claim 17 further comprising a user selected symbol.

23. A method of interactive game play comprising: randomly generating one of a plurality of symbols; accumulating the randomly generated symbol in a column; randomly generating another one of a plurality of symbols; comparing the randomly generated another one of a plurality of symbols to the previously randomly generated symbol; if the randomly generated another one of a plurality of symbols is the same as the previously randomly generated symbol, accumulating the randomly generated another one of a plurality of symbols in the column; and at the conclusion of a number of randomly generating another one of a plurality of symbols, comparing the accumulated symbols to a predetermined pay table to determine the outcome of the game.

24. A method of interactive game play according to claim 23 further including providing a plurality of columns and playing a separate game on each column.

25. A method of interactive game play according to claim 23 further including randomly generating five symbols per game.

26. A method of interactive game play according to claim 23 further including providing a mechanical game.

27. A method of interactive game play according to claim 23 further including providing an electronic game.

28. A method of interactive game play according to claim 23 further comprising a user selecting a symbol.

29. A method of interactive game play comprising: receiving a bet; initiating a random generation event; in the absence of the receipt of an additional bet, initiating an additional random generation event; in the absence of the receipt of an additional bet, initiating an additional random generation event; at the conclusion of a number of random generation events, utilizing outcomes of the number of random generation events determine the outcome of the game.

30. A method of interactive game play according to claim 29 further including randomly generating one of a plurality of symbols and accumulating the randomly generated symbol.

31. A method of interactive game play according to claim 30 further including randomly generating another one of a plurality of symbols and comparing the randomly generated another one of a plurality of symbols to the previously randomly generated symbol.

32. A method of interactive game play according to claim 31 further wherein if the randomly generated another one of a plurality of symbols is the same as the previously randomly generated symbol, accumulating the randomly generated another one of a plurality of symbols.

33. A method of interactive game play according to claim 32 further wherein at the conclusion of a number of randomly generating another one of a plurality of symbols, comparing the accumulated symbols to a predetermined pay table to determine the outcome of the game.

34. A method of interactive game play according to claim 29 further including providing a plurality of columns and playing a separate game on each column.

35. A method of interactive game play according to claim 29 further including providing a mechanical game.

36. A method of interactive game play according to claim 29 further including providing an electronic game.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is based upon U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/937,350 titled “Electronic or Mechanical Game with Configurable Columns” filed 27 Jun. 2007.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to gaming systems.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Games of chance provide entertainment to many. A slot machine (American English) or fruit machine (British English) is a certain type of game of chance. A person playing a slot machine purchases the right to play by inserting coins, cash or in newer machines, a credit or debit-card into a designated slot on the machine. The machine is then activated by means of a lever or button, or on newer machines, by pressing a touch screen on its face. The object of the game is to win money from the machine. The game usually involves matching symbols, either on mechanical reels that spin and stop to reveal one or several symbols, or on a video screen. The symbols are usually brightly colored and easily recognizable, such as images of fruits, and simple shapes such as bells, diamonds, or hearts. Most games have a variety of winning combinations of symbols, often posted on the face of the machine. If a player matches a combination according to the rules of the game, the slot machine pays the player cash or some other sort of value, such as extra games.

Games of chance are more likely to be enjoyable and successful when players are provided with reasonable odds of winning and when the players perceive an improved chance to beat the odds that are normally in favor of a casino.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the principles of the present invention, a game and method for interactive play are provided. In one embodiment, the game and method can comprise a game of chance and a bet is received. A random generation event is initiated. In one embodiment, the random generation event is the random generation of one of a plurality of symbols. In the absence of the receipt of an additional bet, an additional random generation event is initiated. In one embodiment, the additional random generation event is the random generation of another of the plurality of symbols. At the conclusion of a number of random generation events, the outcomes of the number of random generation events are utilized to determine the outcome of the game. In one embodiment, at the conclusion of the number of random generated symbols, the symbols are compared to a predetermined pay table to determine the outcome of the game.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

The foregoing aspects and many of the advantages of the present invention will be more readily appreciated as the same becomes better understood by reference to the following detailed description, when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a flow chart showing play logic of a game and method for interactive play in accordance with the principles of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a screen view of an outcome of a first spin of an electronic or mechanical game with configurable columns in accordance with the principles of the present invention.

FIG. 3 shows a final result of handling the first spin of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 shows an outcome of a second spin of an electronic or mechanical game with configurable columns in accordance with the principles of the present invention.

FIG. 5 shows an outcome of a third spin of an electronic or mechanical game with configurable columns in accordance with the principles of the present invention.

FIG. 6 shows a final result of handling the third spin of FIG. 4.

FIG. 7 shows an outcome of a fourth spin of an electronic or mechanical game with configurable columns in accordance with the principles of the present invention.

FIG. 8 shows a final result of handling the fourth spin of FIG. 4.

FIG. 9 shows an outcome of a fifth and final spin of an electronic or mechanical game with configurable columns in accordance with the principles of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

In accordance with the principles of the present invention, an electronic or mechanical game and method for interactive play on a screen of a slot machine, gaming machine or computer are provided. In accordance with the principles of the present invention, a game and method for interactive play are provided. A random generation event is initiated. In the absence of the receipt of an additional bet, an additional random generation event is initiated. At the conclusion of a number of random generation events, the outcomes of the number of random generation events are utilized to determine the outcome of the game.

In more detail, in one embodiment a display is provided having at least one column. It is understood that while the columns depicted herein are vertical columns, the principles of the present invention apply to horizontal columns or indeed any orientation of columns. One of a plurality of icons, symbols, numbers or the like (collectively, “symbols”) is randomly generated. In a mechanical version, the symbol is randomly generated by a spin command in a reel that is allowed to spin to a halt; in an electronic version, the symbol is randomly generated by a random symbol generator. In one embodiment, the electronic or mechanical game and method for interactive play on a screen of a slot machine, gaming machine or computer provides a player with a plurality of symbol choices and the player can choose from which of the plurality of symbols the game will be played.

The randomly generated symbol is displayed in the at least one column. If there is no previously accumulated symbol, the randomly generated symbol is accumulated in the at least one column. If there is at least one previously accumulated symbol, the randomly generated symbol is compared to the previously accumulated symbol. If the randomly generated symbol is the same as the previously accumulated symbol, the randomly generated symbol is accumulated in the at least one column. These steps are repeated until a number of symbol generation commands is completed. At the conclusion of the number of symbol generation commands, the accumulated symbols are compared to a predetermined pay or win table to determine the outcome of the game. The game may optionally be played over the Internet.

The display can comprise more than one column. Each column is an independent game, and all selected columns are thus independent games played simultaneously, as opposed to conventional slots in which all reels contribute to a single outcome. The number of symbol generation commands may vary and each variation is within the scope of the invention. The number of symbol generation commands may be set by the player, in one variation, or by the manufacturer, in the more common variation.

For each different configuration of columns and symbols, the pay table is adjusted to account for each column having an independent outcome, and a payout based on the result in each column. A different pay table is associated with each number of symbol generation commands because the chance of winning is increased with the greater number of symbol generation commands. Thus, the invention appears to give the player a greater chance of winning, which is adjusted for in the pay table associated with each game of the invention. In another variation, a “full change” mode may be selected. In this mode, the player can select to have each row or column change in unison with another row, column, rows or columns; can select to have each row or column change individually from other columns; or can select to have each row or column change in staggered fashion.

Referring to FIG. 1, a flow chart showing play logic of a game and method for interactive play in accordance with the principles of the present invention is seen. Referring first to the portion of the flow chart within the box, the process for all played columns is described. Initially, a symbol generation commands randomly generates one of a plurality of symbols. After generation of one of a plurality of symbols, a query is made of whether this symbol has already been accumulated. If no, then the symbol is accumulated; if yes, then a second query is made whether the new symbol matches an existing symbol. If yes, then the symbol is accumulated; if no, then a query is made whether more symbol generation commands remain. If yes, then the steps above are repeated; if no, then the accumulated symbols for that column are compared against a pay table to determine a payout.

As previously discussed, a game and method for interactive play in accordance with the principles of the present invention can comprises a plurality of columns. In one embodiment, the plurality of columns can be configurable. Referring still to FIG. 1, to the portion of the flow chart outside the box, if the number of columns is configurable then the player can choose the number of columns to play; if the number of columns is not configurable then the predetermined number of columns is played. In either event, the player chooses a wager, and the symbol generation command randomly generates one of a plurality of symbols for each played column.

Referring now to FIGS. 2-9, screen views of an exemplary ten-column game play of a game with configurable columns in accordance with the principles of the present invention are seen. In this example, only one column is illustrated in play, merely for illustrative purposes and not as a limitation. It is understood that in other embodiments, more than one column can be in play, more or less than a ten column game can be provided, and all such embodiments are within the scope of the invention.

According to the illustrative embodiment described herein, the screen display comprises a plurality of vertical columns, with each column adapted to receive a plurality of symbols (in this case, 3, but as an illustration and not as a limitation). It is understood that the number of columns and number of symbols per column may be varied, with a different pay table developed for each columnar variation, and that all such variations are within the scope of the invention. The invention can comprise a plurality of columns, and each column may have one or more spaces to display symbols; in the embodiment of the game described herein, the game generates an outcome on which wagers can be placed. At multiple successive times within one play of the game, random symbols are generated in at least all played columns. A symbol will be retained (and potentially contribute to a win) in a column unless a different symbol has previously accumulated for that column. The player pays for a number of columns and plays that number of columns, with symbols accumulating in the columns contributing to a payout.

Initially, in this example a player optionally determines how many columns they will play via selection on a user interface. It is understood that the number of columns may vary, and that a greater number of columns selected gives the user a perception of more chances of winning. In another embodiment, all columns will spin, but only a subset will be eligible for a payoff. The odds of a payout are adjusted for the number of columns played by pay tables associated with the different numbers of columns. Moreover, the number of spins may vary, and the number of symbols that may accumulate in the columns may also vary.

A typical gaming device has other elements, not shown in the Figures because they are well known in the art and not a part of the present invention, such as a game housing or console having a front panel with a display screen (shots of which are depicted in FIGS. 2-9); coin, token, paper money, and/or credit or debit-card slots; a flashing light on the top of the housing to announce a winning jackpot; and other controls which are well-known in the art. Game instructions can also be included on the front panel of the game housing can be game instructions to instruct a player as to how to play the game. In addition, preferably instructions or flashing lights on the video display screen indicating what action is required by the player at particular times during game play. These other elements form no specific part of the present invention, but machines containing these elements may be used to play the games of the invention.

The screen shots shown in FIGS. 2-9 indicate touch screen operation. The use of touch screen technology with gaming machines is well known in the video gaming art. As specific locations on the screens are touched during game play the touch is sensed by a computer and appropriate game action is taken as is described hereinafter. The locations and types of buttons and elements of screen display may vary and all variants are included within the scope of the invention.

It is assumed throughout that a player is utilizing and has inserted cash or a card (not shown) into an appropriate slot (not shown) in the gaming machine. The card has stored thereon a numerical indication of a number of credits which the player may use to bet and play games. Bets are debited from the stored amount, and winnings are added to the stored amount. When a player first inserts their card or cash into the appropriate slot in the gaming machine, the number of credits currently held by the player is read and can be displayed on the screens. The number of credits increases and decreases during the course of playing games as a player places bets, wins, and loses, or adds or subtracts credits.

After a player inserts their card or cash into an appropriate slot in the gaming machine (both not shown) to indicate that they wish to play the game, the number of credits the player has is read and can be displayed as described in the previous paragraph. More particularly, a player physically touches one of the displayed ‘Bet’ buttons (illustrated in this example as “Bet per Column” and “Max. Bet” but any variation is within the scope of the invention, such as but not limited to different bets per column) on the video display screen to place one or more bets on the game, up to a maximum of bets. Each time the player touches a ‘Bet’ button it is sensed by the touch screen technology, and the number of bets displayed on the display is changed accordingly. Technology may be included for decreasing as well as increasing bets during the play of the game, or to select a maximum bet. In the example of the invention described herein it is assumed that only a set maximum of bets may be placed on any single game, although this number is arbitrary. For each variation, a corresponding pay table is developed.

With reference to FIG. 2, the player has selected one column to play, as shown in the “columns” portion of the display. The player then determines the total wager by selecting a number of credits to wager, in this case per column played. Play is then initiated for example via a “Play” button on the user interface. A symbol appears above the column selected, in this example a teardrop diamond, although any symbol may be used. In this embodiment, five spins are allowed per game allowing a maximum of five symbols to accumulate, although this number may vary. Symbols will only accumulate if they are identical to the symbol already in the column, as shown in the Figures and as described below.

With reference to FIG. 3, all columns being played will then have their associated “reel” spun to generate a random symbol from the plurality of obtainable symbols. For each reel, a symbol will be accumulated toward a potential prize if no symbols have previously been accumulated for that reel or the symbol is the same as symbols previously accumulated for that reel. In FIG. 3, it is the first spin, so the symbol is accumulated in the form of the teardrop diamond dropping into the column.

FIG. 4 indicates the outcome of a second “spin.” In this example, a pentagonal diamond symbol was generated. Because this is not the same as the retained teardrop symbol, the pentagonal diamond symbol is not dropped into the column being played.

FIG. 5 shows the outcome of a third “spin.” A teardrop diamond symbol has been produced on the relevant reel. FIG. 6 shows the final result of handling the third spin. Because this teardrop diamond symbol is the same as to the previously retained symbol, the second teardrop symbol has been retained. There are now two teardrop symbols being retained on the relevant reel, increasing an amount of payout.

FIG. 7 shows the outcome of a fourth “spin.” Again, a teardrop symbol has been produced on the relevant reel and is thus retained. FIG. 8 shows the final result of handling the fourth spin. There are now three teardrop symbols retained on the relevant reel (also called “column.”).

FIG. 9 shows the outcome of a fifth and, in this example, final spin. A triangle symbol has been produced on the relevant column (or reel). Because this is not the same as the retained teardrop symbol, the triangle symbol is not dropped into the column being played. Thus, FIG. 9 also represents the result of handling the fifth spin as the triangle symbol is not retained.

At the end of the game, however configured, the combination of symbols accumulated in each column will then be compared against a pay table to determine a total prize to be awarded to the player. Thus, in this example the player will receive a payout as determined by a pay table based on the accumulation of three teardrops. Payouts are made on a column specific basis. Accordingly, for example, if 10 column play is chosen and three of the 10 columns have accumulations of symbols sufficient for payout, all three columns will generate credits according to the appropriate pay table. A single pay table may be used for all columns or multiple pay tables may be developed.

In accordance with the principles of the present invention, in one embodiment an electronic version of a game with configurable columns can be provided. In accordance with the principles of the present invention, another embodiment a mechanical version of a game with configurable columns can be provided. The mechanical version works like the electronic version, except that a mechanical reel having a plurality of faces and a symbol on each face is used for each column, and the reel is spun mechanically. In the mechanical embodiment of the invention, however, each column has a series of reels permitting vertical symbol accumulation (that is, multiple symbols accumulating in a given column). In another variation of this mechanical embodiment, a mechanical mechanism having stacked widows that open in each column can be used to vertically display and accumulate symbols. It is appreciated that there are many mechanical ways know in the art to display and accumulate symbols vertically, and all such embodiments are within the scope of the invention.

While the invention has been described with specific embodiments, other alternatives, modifications, and variations will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Accordingly, it will be intended to include all such alternatives, modifications and variations set forth within the spirit and scope of the appended claims.