Title:
SOLUTION FOR ENHANCING THE USER EXPERIENCE OF AN ELECTRONIC GAME BY MAKING USER-CREATED GAME DATA AVAILABLE IN CONTEXT DURING GAMEPLAY
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention discloses a system for enhancing a user's experience in an electronic game by dynamically incorporating user-created tag data. Such a system can include an electronic game application running on a network-capable computing device, a game tag monitor, and a game tag information coordinator. The game tag monitor can be configured to accept and present user-created game tag data within the electronic game application. User created game tag data can also be received outside a gameplay situation using a suitable game tagging interface. The game tag data can be presented dynamically based on the current context of the game. The game tag information coordinator can be configured to provide the game tag monitor with game tag data and receive new game tag data from the game tag monitor.



Inventors:
Chang, Belinda Ying-chieh (CARY, NC, US)
Dheap, Vijay (DURHAM, NC, US)
Hardee, Christopher J. (RALEIGH, NC, US)
Miller, Heather C. (HOLLY SPRINGS, NC, US)
Application Number:
11/936149
Publication Date:
05/07/2009
Filing Date:
11/07/2007
Assignee:
INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORPORATION (ARMONK, NY, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
AILES, BENJAMIN A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Patents On, Demand Ibm-rsw P. A. (4581 WESTON ROAD, SUITE 345, WESTON, FL, 33331, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A system for enhancing user experience in an electronic game by dynamically incorporating user-created tag data comprising: an electronic game application running on a network-capable computing device; a game tag monitor configured to accept and present user-created game tag data within the electronic game application, wherein game tag data is presented dynamically based on a game context; and a game tag information coordinator configured to interact with the game tag monitor, wherein an interaction with the game tag monitor includes at least one of accepting new user-created game tag data and conveying existing user-created game tag data.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein the game tag monitor further comprises: a tag creation interface configured to accept user-entered game tag data.

3. The system of claim 1, wherein the game tag information coordinator further comprises: a tag creation interface configured to accept user-entered game tag data; a game tag engine configured to catalog a new user-created game tag data for storage, wherein cataloging aggregates related game tag data; and an accuracy calculator configured to determine an accuracy rating for the new user-created game tag data, wherein a determination utilizes at least one of historical user data and ratings by other users.

4. The system of claim 3, wherein the accuracy rating is stored as an element of the game tag data.

5. The system of claim 3, wherein the accuracy rating represents a level of usefulness and correctness for the new game tag data.

6. The system of claim 1, wherein the game tag information coordinator is a component of a community-based game information server, wherein access to game tag data requires a registration with the game information server.

7. The system of claim 1, wherein the game tag monitor is an embedded component of the electronic game application.

8. The system of claim 1, wherein the network-capable computing device is one of a mobile phone, a personal computer, a video game console, a laptop computer, and a hand-held video game device.

9. The system of claim 1, wherein the game context includes at least one of a game scene, a game time counter, a visual game element, and a triggered game element.

10. The system of claim 1, wherein game tag data includes at least one of a game tip, a game trick, a game cheat, a game hint, and a set of game instructions.

11. A method for enhancing user experience in an electronic game by dynamically incorporating user-created tag data comprising: a game tag monitor monitoring an electronic game application; conveying a request to a game tag information coordinator for game tag data that is applicable to a current game context of the electronic game application; when applicable game tag data exists, the game tag information coordinator retrieving said applicable game tag data; the game tag information coordinator sending the applicable game tag data to the game tag monitor; and the game tag monitor presenting the received applicable game tag data in the electronic game application.

12. The method of claim 11, further comprising: the game tag monitor receiving a user-request to add game tag data; the game tag monitor invoking a tag creation interface; the game tag monitor receiving a request to save user-inputted game tag data; the game tag monitor conveying the user-inputted game tag data to the game tag information coordinator; the game tag information coordinator calculating an accuracy rating for the user-inputted game tag data; the game tag information coordinator cataloging the user-inputted game tag data; and the game tag information coordinator storing the user-inputted game tag data and its associated accuracy rating, wherein the user-inputted game tag data is stored with existing user-created game tag data for the current game context.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein a calculation of the accuracy rating utilizes at least one of historical user data and ratings by other users.

14. The method of claim 12, wherein the accuracy rating represents a level of usefulness and correctness for the user-inputted game tag data.

15. The method of claim 11, wherein the current game context includes at least one of a game scene, a game time counter, a visual game element, and a triggered game element.

16. The method of claim 11, wherein the game tag information coordinator is a component of a community-based game information server, wherein access to game tag data requires a registration with the game information server.

17. The method of claim 11, wherein said steps of claim 11 are performed by at least one machine in accordance with at least one computer program stored in a computer readable media, said computer programming having a plurality of code sections that are executable by the at least one machine.

18. A community-enhanced gaming system comprising: a community-based game information server configured to collect and distribute game tag data; and an electronic game system configured to interact with the game information server and present game tag data.

19. The gaming system of claim 18, wherein the game information server further comprises: a game tag information coordinator configured to catalog new user-created game tag data for storage, wherein cataloging aggregates related game tag data, and determine an accuracy rating for new user-created game tag data.

20. The gaming system of claim 18, wherein the electronic game system further comprises: an electronic game application running on a network-capable computing device; and a game tag monitor configured to dynamically present game tag data in the electronic game application based on a game context of the electronic game application.

Description:

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to the field of electronic gaming and, more particularly, to enhancing the user experience of an electronic game by making user-created game data available in context during gameplay.

2. Description of the Related Art

Electronic games, such as those played on personal computers and video game consoles, have become a very popular form of entertainment. The completion of a game often involves the investment of a large quantity of time by the player. Many games also include a variety of puzzles and secret areas, which tend to greatly increase the amount of time a player spends in the game trying to complete these objectives. Unfortunately, it can be quite easy to miss clues and/or items needed to complete a puzzle or enter a secret area, which is a common cause of player frustration.

Many players, therefore, subscribe to a variety of user-communities to find and/or share information about handling these troublesome portions of a game. While this approach can provide a wealth of information, the accessed information often lacks a direct association with the specific context in the game where it is applicable. For example, a player would need to write down information from a Web site or switch back and forth between a game and the Web site in order to be able to read the information while trying to find the exact location in the game where the information applies.

Further, the other player's providing the information may describe the context of the game in a variety of terms that another player may not readily understand. This is especially true when information is provided by players of various nationalities. For example, a player from England, when describing locations on a car, would use the terms “boot” and “bonnet” when referring to the American equivalent of the trunk and hood, respectively. Additionally, there has historically been no way to assess an accuracy or a quality of available game data, which can vary significantly from source to source.

A number of publishers provide electronic game guides that users can presume to be moderately accurate, which include walk-throughs, hints, cheat codes, and other helpful data. This pre-built data, however, is static in nature and cannot change once delivered. The static nature of the game data can be a significant weakness, especially when a game being described is a dynamic, evolving game, as are many current Web based multiplayer games. Additionally, a direct association is lacking between the game guide and a game context, requiring users to switch back and forth between gameplay and the guide.

What is needed is a solution that dynamically presents the user-created data of a user-community within the actual electronic game. That is, when playing an electronic game, a player would be automatically shown information that pertains to the specific context of the game from the community-based information server. Ideally, this solution would also include a calculated accuracy rating for each piece of information being displayed that represents a trustworthiness of the information.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

There are shown in the drawings, embodiments which are presently preferred, it being understood, however, that the invention is not limited to the precise arrangements and instrumentalities shown.

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram illustrating a system for enhancing the user experience of an electronic game with user-created game tag information in accordance with embodiments of the inventive arrangements disclosed herein.

FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of a game tag information coordinator in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive arrangements disclosed herein.

FIG. 3 is a flow chart of a method for enhancing the user experience of an electronic game with user-created game tag information in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive arrangements disclosed herein.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram illustrating a system 100 for enhancing the user experience of an electronic game 120 with user-created game tag information 122 in accordance with embodiments of the inventive arrangements disclosed herein. In system 100, a user 105 can play an electronic game application 120 on a client 110. The electronic game 120 can be enhanced with user-created game tag information 122 received from a game information server 130 via network 125.

The client 110 running the electronic game application 120 can be a variety of electronic computing devices capable of communicating with the game information server 130 over a network 125. Examples of such a client 110 can include a video game console like a PLAYSTATION, a personal computer, a mobile phone, a laptop computer, and the like.

The electronic game application 120 can represent a software application providing the user 105 with electronic entertainment on the client 110. As such, it is important to note that the electronic game application 120 must be written to be executed in the environment of the specific type of client 110. That is, an electronic game 120 written for a mobile phone 110 can only be executed on a mobile phone 110 and not a personal computer 110.

The electronic game application 120 can display user-created game tag information 122. The user-created game tag information 122 can include a variety of textual information, such as game hints, game tips, game cheats, and the like. Additionally, the user-created game tag information 122 can include an accuracy rating that represents the trustworthiness of the displayed information 122. The user-created game tag information 122 displayed within the electronic game 120 can correspond to a specific piece of user-created game tag data 140 stored by the game information server 130.

The retrieval and display of the user-created game tag information 122 can be performed by another software element called a game tag monitor 115. The game tag monitor 115, as its name implies, can monitor the user's 105 progression in the electronic game 120 and request the user-created game tag data 140 that corresponds to the specific game context from the game information server 130. The game context can represent a specific time and/or location the user 105 is at in the electronic game 120. For example, when the user 105 walks their game character in a place called “The Tombs”, the game tag monitor 115 would request and display user-created game tag data 140 that only corresponds to the “The Tombs”.

In an alternate embodiment, the game tag monitor 115 can be an embedded component of the electronic game application 120 and would not need to be independently initiated.

When the game tag monitor 115 receives user-created game tag data 140 from the game information server 130, the game tag monitor 115 can display the contents of the user-created game tag data 140 as user-created game tag information 122 within the electronic game 120. Additionally, the game tag monitor 115 can include a tag creation interface 117 that can allow a user 105 to add user-created game tag information 122 to the electronic game 120.

User-created game tag information 122 that is added by a user 105 via the tag creation interface 117 can be sent by the game tag monitor 115 to the game information server 130 to be stored and shared. The game information server 130 can be a networked computing device configured to collect and provide user-created game tag data 140. In order to do so, the game information server 130 can include a game tag information coordinator 133.

The game tag information coordinator 133 can be a software application designed to catalog and assess the accuracy of received user-created game tag data 140 from the game tag monitor 115. Additionally, the game tag information coordinator 133 can query an accessible data store 130 to fulfill requests from the game tag monitor 115 for user-created game tag data 140 for an electronic game 120.

The game tag information coordinator 133 can include a tag creation interface 134. This tag creation interface 134 can be similar to the tag creation interface 117 contained within the game tag monitor 115. The tag creation interface 134 of the game tag information coordinator 133 can be accessed by a user 105 to add user-created game tag data 140 without running the electronic game application 120. For example, the tag creation interface 134 of the game tag information coordinator 133 can be a Web form accessed with a Web browser, whereas the tag creation interface 117 of the game tag monitor 117 can be a conventional software graphical user interface (GUI). In general, a tag creation interface 117, 134 can be represent any software interface including, but not limited to, an interface available from a game console, a Web interface, a Web plug-in, a Web service, an interface of a stand-alone program designed to author game tag data 140, and the like.

When assessing the accuracy of user-created game tag data 140, the game tag information coordinator 133 can utilize stored user data 145. The user data 145 can include information regarding the reliability of a specific user 105 and/or ratings of a user's 105 game tag data 140 by other users. In another embodiment, the user data 145 can be located in a separate data store (not shown) from the user-created game tag data 140.

As used herein, presented data stores, including store 135, can be a physical or virtual storage space configured to store digital information. Data store 135 can be physically implemented within any type of hardware including, but not limited to, a magnetic disk, an optical disk, a semiconductor memory, a digitally encoded plastic memory, a holographic memory, or any other recording medium. The data store 135 can be a stand-alone storage unit as well as a storage unit formed from a plurality of physical devices. Additionally, information can be stored within data store 135 in a variety of manners. For example, information can be stored within a database structure or can be stored within one or more files of a file storage system, where each file may or may not be indexed for information searching purposes. Further, data store 135 can utilize one or more encryption mechanisms to protect stored information from unauthorized access.

Network 125 can include any hardware/software/and firmware necessary to convey data encoded within carrier waves. Data can be contained within analog or digital signals and conveyed though data or voice channels. Network 125 can include local components and data pathways necessary for communications to be exchanged among computing device components and between integrated device components and peripheral devices. Network 125 can also include network equipment, such as routers, data lines, hubs, and intermediary servers which together form a data network, such as the Internet. Network 125 can also include circuit-based communication components and mobile communication components, such as telephony switches, modems, cellular communication towers, and the like. Network 125 can include line based and/or wireless communication pathways.

FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of a game tag information coordinator 200 in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive arrangements disclosed herein. The game tag information coordinator 200 can be utilized in system 100 by the game information server 130 to catalog and assess the trustworthiness of user-created game tag data 140.

To perform these functions, the game tag information coordinator 200 can include a game tag engine 205 and an accuracy calculator 210. The game tag engine 205 can perform the cataloging functions of the game tag information coordinator 200. Cataloging can allow received user-created game tag data to be properly stored with other existing user-created game tag for the same game context.

The accuracy calculator 210 can utilize a software algorithm to determine an accuracy rating for user-created game data. The value of the accuracy rating can represent a degree of trustworthiness of the user-created game tag data. Calculation of the accuracy rating can utilize a variety of data, such as historical accuracy ratings for a user, ratings by other users, and the like.

FIG. 3 is a flow chart of a method 300 for enhancing the user experience of an electronic game with user-created game tag information in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive arrangements disclosed herein. Method 300 can be performed in the context of system 100 and/or utilize the game tag information coordinator 200 of FIG. 2.

Method 300 can begin with step 305 where a user initiates the game tag monitor. In step 310, the user can play an electronic game. It should be noted that step 305 can be a sub-step of step 310 should the electronic game be designed to automatically launch the game tag monitor.

In step 315, the game tag monitor can request game tag data for the user's current game context from the game tag information coordinator. The game tag information coordinator can determine if applicable game tag data exists in step 320.

When applicable game tag data exists, flow can proceed to step 360 where the game tag information coordinator can retrieve the game tag data from a data store. In The game tag information coordinator can then send the retrieved game tag data to the game tag monitor in step 365. In step 370, the game tag monitor can display the received game tag data in the electronic game.

The user can decide if they are finished playing the electronic game in step 375. When the user is finished, step 380 can execute where the user can terminate the running of the electronic game and the game tag monitor. It should be noted that if the game tag monitor is an embedded component of the electronic game, then step 380 would only require the termination of the electronic game.

If the user is not yet finished playing the electronic game, flow can return to step 310 where the user can continue to play the game and the steps of method 300 can continue to execute accordingly.

In the case where game tag information coordinator determines that game tag data does not exist in step 320, flow can proceed to step 325 where the user can decide if they wish to add game tag data to their current place in the electronic game. If the user does not wish to add game tag data, flow can return to step 310 where the user continues to play the electronic game.

Should the user wish to add game tag data, step 330 can execute where the user launches the game tag creation interface. In step 335, the user can enter their game tag data into the interface. The user can then save their inputted data in step 340. In one contemplated configuration, a creation of game data can occur at anytime and not just during gameplay. For example, a user not playing a game can invoke a game tag creation interface (e.g., interface 134), through which gaming information can be created. In one embodiment, a game tagging plug-in exists, which can be added to any interface, such as a Web interface. In such an embodiment, the plug-in could provide a convenient method for users to add game tag data to any game information Web site, such as adding game tag data to a gaming BLOG.

Regardless of what interface is used to create the game tag data, in step 345, the game tag monitor can send the entered game tag data to the game tag information coordinator. The game tag information coordinator can calculate an accuracy rating for the new game tag data in step 350. In step 355, the game tag information coordinator can save the game tag data and its accuracy rating. Accuracy of game tag data can be reassessed on an ongoing basis in accordance with established accuracy determination algorithms. After the execution of step 355, flow of method 300 can return to step 310 where the user continues to play the electronic game.

The present invention may be realized in hardware, software, or a combination of hardware and software. The present invention may be realized in a centralized fashion in one computer system, or in a distributed fashion where different elements are spread across several interconnected computer systems. Any kind of computer system or other apparatus adapted for carrying out the methods described herein is suited. A typical combination of hardware and software may be a general purpose computer system with a computer program that, when being loaded and executed, controls the computer system such that it carries out the methods described herein.

The present invention also may be embedded in a computer program product, which comprises all the features enabling the implementation of the methods described herein, and which when loaded in a computer system is able to carry out these methods. Computer program in the present context means any expression, in any language, code or notation, of a set of instructions intended to cause a system having an information processing capability to perform a particular function either directly or after either or both of the following: a) conversion to another language, code or notation; b) reproduction in a different material form.

This invention may be embodied in other forms without departing from the spirit or essential attributes thereof. Accordingly, reference should be made to the following claims, rather than to the foregoing specification, as indicating the scope of the invention.