Title:
Gaming Apparatus with Common Display Device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A gaming system and method is disclosed that utilizes a common display device for providing a display of gaming information for a plurality of gaming devices. The common display includes a plurality of segments, each of which has a gaming symbol and an indication device. In response to a display event from one of the gaming devices, a segment is indicated using an indication device. Where two segments are simultaneously indicated by separate gaming devices, indicia such as colors, are used to associate the selected segments with their respective gaming devices.



Inventors:
Seelig, Jerald C. (Galloway, NJ, US)
Henshaw, Lawrence M. (Hammonton, NJ, US)
Application Number:
12/168515
Publication Date:
05/14/2009
Filing Date:
07/07/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
463/16, 463/31
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
LIDDLE, JAY TRENT
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
IAN F. BURNS & ASSOCIATES (4790 Caughlin Parkway #701, RENO, NV, 89519-0907, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A gaming system, comprising: (A) a first gaming device, the first gaming device being configured to allow a first player to place a wager and play a game, the first gaming device having a first indicia associated with it; (B) a second gaming device, the second gaming device being configured to allow a second player to place a wager and play a game, the second gaming device having a second indicia associated with it; and (C) a common display device viewable by the first and second players playing at the first and second gaming devices, the display device comprising: (a) a first plurality of segments, each of the first plurality of segments comprising: (i) the first indicia; (ii) a first game symbol, the game symbol capable of communicating game information; and (iii) an indication device, the indication device being configured to selectively indicate the respective segment; (b) a second plurality of segments, each of the second plurality of segments comprising: (i) the second indicia; (ii) a second game symbol, the game symbol capable of communicating game information; and (iii) an indication device, the indication device being configured to selectively indicate the respective segment; and (c) at least one controller in communication with the first and second gaming devices and each of the first and second plurality of segments, the controller being configured to: (i) upon occurrence of a first display event associated with the first gaming device, select one of the first plurality of segments and cause the indication device of the selected one of the first plurality of segments to indicate the selected one of the first plurality of segments; (ii) upon occurrence of a second display event associated with the second gaming device, select one of the second plurality of segments and cause the indication device of the selected one of the second plurality of segments to indicate the selected one of the second plurality of segments; and (iii) wherein if the selected one of the first plurality of segments and the selected one of the second plurality of segments are indicated simultaneously, the first and second indicia communicate which segment is associated to which gaming device.

2. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the controller is further configured to cause each of the first plurality of segments to be activated for a brief period of time and then deactivated before causing the indication device of the selected one of the first plurality of segments to indicate the segment for a longer period of time.

3. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the common display device further comprises one or more display screens for displaying an outcome of a display event.

4. The gaming system of claim 3, further comprising a display screen associated with each gaming device.

5. The gaming system of claim 3, wherein the plurality of segments are arranged around a periphery of the one or more display screens.

6. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the first indicia comprises a first color and wherein the second indicia comprises a second color.

7. The gaming system of claim 6, wherein the first gaming device includes a decoration of the first color and wherein the second gaming device includes a decoration of the second color.

8. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the indication device comprises at least one of backlighting, peripheral lighting, mechanical pointing devices, an image or text.

9. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the first plurality of segments are in a first designated area of the common display device and wherein the second plurality of segments are in a second designated area of the common display device.

10. A gaming system, comprising: (A) a first gaming device, the first gaming device being configured to allow a first player to place a first wager and play a first game, the first gaming device having a first indicia associated with it; (B) a second gaming device, the second gaming device being configured to allow a second player to place a second wager and play a second game, the second gaming device having a second indicia associated with it; and (C) a common display device viewable by the first and second players playing at the first and second gaming devices, the display device comprising: (a) a plurality of segments, each of the segments comprising: (i) a game symbol, the game symbol capable of communicating game information; and (ii) an indication device, the indication device being configured to selectively indicate the respective segment wherein the first or second indicia are displayed when the indication device indicates the respective segment; and (b) at least one controller in communication with the first and second gaming devices and each of the first and second plurality of segments, the controller being configured to: (i) upon occurrence of a first display event associated with the first gaming device, select one of the plurality of segments and cause the indication device of the selected segment to indicate the segment using the first indicia; and (ii) upon occurrence of a second display event associated with the second gaming device, select one of the plurality of segments and cause the indication device of the selected one of the second plurality of segments to indicate the segment using the second indicia.

11. The gaming system of claim 10, wherein the common display device further comprises one or more display screens for displaying an outcome of at least one display event.

12. The gaming system of claim 11, wherein the display screens display a combined outcome of a plurality of display events.

13. The gaming system of claim 10, wherein the first indicia comprises a first color and wherein the second indicia comprises a second color.

14. The gaming system of claim 10, wherein the indication device comprises at least one of backlighting, peripheral lighting, mechanical pointing devices, an image or text.

15. A method of playing a game, comprising: (A) upon occurrence of a first display event associated with a first player, selecting a first segment from among a plurality of segments, the first segment having a first indicia and a first symbol; (B) indicating the first segment wherein the first indicia indicates that the first symbol is associated with the first player; (C) upon occurrence of a second display event associated with a second player, selecting a second segment from among the plurality of segments, the second segment having a second indicia and a second symbol; and (D) indicating the second segment wherein the second indicia indicates that the second symbol is associated with the second player.

16. The method of claim 15, further comprising: (A) generating a plurality of display events associated with a first player within a game cycle; (B) combining an outcome of the plurality of display events; and (C) displaying the outcome on a display screen associated with the plurality of segments.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein the plurality of segments each communicate a game symbol, wherein the outcome is dependent on the game symbol.

18. The method of claim 15, wherein indicating a segment comprises providing at least one lighting effect to the indicating segment.

19. A display device, comprising: (A) a plurality of segments; (B) means for selectively indicating the segments; (C) means for associating a first selectively indicated segment with a first gaming device; and (D) means for associating a second selectively indicated segment with a second gaming device.

20. The display device of claim 0, wherein the means for selectively indicating the segments includes means for receiving a selection signal from at least one of the first and second gaming devices.

21. The display device of claim 0, wherein the plurality of segments are arranged to give the display an appearance of a board game playing surface.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/986,859, Nov. 09, 2007 the contents of which is herein incorporated by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to gaming devices and in particular to multiple gaming device systems utilizing a common display.

BACKGROUND

Prior art gaming devices such as slot machines are generally personal and isolated devices facilitating little interaction between players. Gaming devices typically provide a relatively inexpensive and compact video screen sufficient for displaying gaming information. Higher quality display screens are not generally used as their high cost is prohibitive for use in a single gaming device. As such, it is generally difficult for more than one or two players to simultaneously view a gaming device screen and thereby keep track of gaming progress. In particular, it is difficult for adjacent players to enjoy a sense of interaction by watching adjacent gaming devices.

Progressive gaming systems and gaming systems using community prizes to increase the interaction between players of a common system and may include displays providing common gaming information, such as the amount of a progressive prize. However, these displays do not generally show progress of the game play of a single player to a wider audience.

SUMMARY OF ONE OR MORE EMBODIMENT OF THE INVENTION

Advantages of One or More Embodiments of the Present Invention

The various embodiments of the present invention may, but do not necessarily, achieve one or more of the following advantages:

the ability to use a high quality display screen;

provide an increased sense of interaction between players;

provide a display allowing viewers to monitor progress of multiple players simultaneously; and

provide enhanced player excitement and visual stimulation.

These and other advantages may be realized by reference to the remaining portions of the specification, claims, and abstract.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF ONE OR MORE EMBODIMENTS OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

In one aspect, the invention provides a gaming system comprising a first gaming device and a second gaming device each configured to allow a player to place a wager and play a game, and each having respective first and second indicia associated with it. A common display device is viewable by players playing at the first and second gaming devices and comprises a first plurality of segments, each of the first plurality of segments comprising the first indicia; a game symbol capable of communicating game information and an indication device configured to selectively indicate the segment. The display device also provides a second plurality of segments each comprising the second indicia; a game symbol capable of communicating game information and an indication device configured to selectively indicate the segment. At least one controller in communication with the first and second gaming devices and each of the first and second plurality of segments is configured to, upon occurrence of a display event associated with the first gaming device, select one of the first plurality of segments and cause the indication device of the selected one of the first plurality of segments to indicate the selected segment, and upon occurrence of a display event associated with the second gaming device, select one of the second plurality of segments and cause the indication device of the selected one of the second plurality of segments to indicate the segment, wherein if the selected one of the first plurality of segments and the selected one of the second plurality of segments are indicated simultaneously, the first and second indicia communicate which segment is associated to which gaming device.

In one aspect, the invention provides a gaming system comprising a first gaming device, the first gaming device being configured to allow a player to place a wager and play a game, the first gaming device having a first indicia associated with it; a second gaming device, the second gaming device being configured to allow a player to place a wager and play a game, the second gaming device having a second indicia associated with it; a common display device viewable by players playing at the first and second gaming devices, the display device comprising: a plurality of segments, each of the segments comprising: a game symbol, the game symbol capable of communicating game information; an indication device, the indication device being configured to selectively indicate the segment wherein the first or second indicia are displayed when the indication device indicates the segment; at least one controller in communication with the first and second gaming devices and each of the first and second plurality of segments, the controller being configured to: upon occurrence of a display event associated with the first gaming device, select one of the plurality of segments and cause the indication device of the selected segment to indicate the segment using said first indicia; upon occurrence of a display event associated with the second gaming device, select one of the second plurality of segments and cause the indication device of the selected one of the second plurality of segments to indicate the segment using said second indicia.

In one aspect, the invention provides a method of playing a game comprising upon occurrence of a first display event associated with a first player, selecting a first segment from among a plurality of segments, the segment having a first indicia and a first symbol; indicating the first segment wherein the first indicia indicates that the first symbol is associated with the first player; upon occurrence of a second display event associated with a second player, selecting a second segment from among the plurality of segments, the segment having a second indicia and a second symbol; indicating the second segment wherein the second indicia indicates that the second symbol is associated with second player.

In one aspect, the invention provides a display device comprising a plurality of segments; means for selectively indicating said segments; means for associating a first selectively indicated segment with a first gaming device; and means for associating a second selectively indicated segment with a second gaming device.

The above description sets forth, rather broadly, a summary of one embodiment of the present invention so that the detailed description that follows may be better understood and contributions of the present invention to the art may be better appreciated. Some of the embodiments of the present invention may not include all of the features or characteristics listed in the above summary. There are, of course, additional features of the invention that will be described below and will form the subject matter of claims. In this respect, before explaining at least one example embodiment of the invention in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of the construction and to the arrangement of the components set forth in the following description or as illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced and carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology employed herein are for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is substantially a perspective view of one embodiment of the gaming apparatus of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is substantially a block diagram of the gaming apparatus of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is substantially a schematic view showing one embodiment of a display device;

FIG. 4 is substantially a schematic view showing a further embodiment of a display device;

FIG. 5 is substantially a flowchart showing the steps of bonus game play; and

FIG. 6 is substantially a perspective view of the gaming apparatus at the conclusion of a bonus game play.

DESCRIPTION OF CERTAIN EMBODIMENTS OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

In the following detailed description of several embodiments, reference is made to the accompanying drawings, which form a part of this application. The drawings show, by way of illustration, specific embodiments in which the invention may be practiced. It is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized and structural changes may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention.

With reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, the illustrated embodiment of the invention comprises a gaming apparatus, generally indicated by reference number 10. The gaming apparatus 10 has a plurality of individual gaming devices 12. While three gaming devices 12a, 12b, 12c are illustrated, the person skilled in the art will readily understand that any appropriate number of gaming devices may be used. The specific structure and operation of the gaming devices 12 is inessential to the present invention and many forms of gaming device known to the person skilled in the art may be utilized. For example, the gaming device 12 may be provided with any suitable game allowing a player to place a wager, such as through a coin or token slot 30 and play a game provided on a game display 31. Control buttons 32 can be provided on the gaming device 12 to control the selecting of wagers and playing of the game.

The gaming devices 12 operate under the control of a controller 18, such as a processor, which may be located within the gaming apparatus 10 or may be located remotely and communicate with the gaming devices through communication links, as is known in the art. The processor will typically include a random number generator that generates a random number when a player places a wager and elects to play a game. The random number generated is compared to a pay table to determine a game outcome. Gaming symbols reflecting the gaming outcome are displayed on the individual gaming devices 12. As is well known in the art, certain gaming outcomes may trigger the playing of a bonus game.

The gaming apparatus 10 further includes a common display device 14 that displays game information to a number of players or gaming devices. The common display device 14 comprises a number of segments 21. As shown in FIG. 1, the segments 21 may be depicted as a board game playing surface with a plurality of segments 21 arranged around the periphery of the board. However, other ways of arranging and displaying the segments 21 are possible and the person skilled in the art will readily understand that the invention is not to be limited to any one arrangement of the segments.

In addition to the segments 21, the common display device 14 may include one or more video screens 24 for displaying additional game information to the players at gaming devices 12. The screens may be high quality displays such as provided by a plasma screen or the like. In the present example, the video screens 24 are provided in a central portion of the board game arrangement. The video screens 24 may display additional game information specific to the players or gaming devices. In one embodiment, the video screens 24 communicate bonus game outcome information with respect to each of the gaming devices 12. That is, in the present embodiment, three displays 24a, 24b, 24c are provided which communicate bonus game information for gaming devices 12a, 12b, 12c, respectively. Display information is controlled by the controller 18. Instead of providing individual video screens 24, a single screen may be provided and caused by the controller 18 to display gaming information with respect to the individual gaming devices.

The common display device 14 is described in more detail with reference to FIG. 3. Each segment 21 is capable of displaying indicia and a game symbol. Game symbols 25 may be anything capable of communicating game information, such as a number, letter or image. Indicia may be anything capable of communicating that a game symbol or segment is associated with a particular gaming device, such as a color or symbol. In one embodiment, segments displaying a dotted indicia, e.g. segment 26 may be associated with gaming device 12a, segments displaying diagonal striped indicia, e.g. segment 27, may be associated with gaming device 12b and the segments displaying vertical striped indicia, e.g. segment 28, may be associated with gaming device 12c. For reasons of clarity, shading patterns are used herein to represent different colors or other visual indicia. As shown in FIG. 3, the respective gaming device 12a, 12b, 12c may be decorated with the same indicia as described above in order to reinforce the association.

In addition to game symbols and indicia, one or more indication devices are defined. Indication devices communicate to a player that a segment has been selected and may include backlighting, peripheral lighting, mechanical pointing devices or an image or text used on the segment to convey the segment's selection. Indication devices may be used to highlight selected segments. An example contrasting the difference between indicia and indication devices is described with reference to FIG. 3. In normal play, segment 29, bearing vertical striped indicia is associated with gaming device 12c and would normally appear similar to segment 28. In response to a display event however, in addition to displaying the vertical striped indicia to convey its association with gaming device 12c, segment 29 also displays a backlighting effect, which, in the present example, provides a negative representation of the normal appearance of segment 29. It is thus clear to a player at gaming device 12c, and other players, that the segment 29 is associated with the gaming device 12c and that the segment 29 is currently selected.

Operation of the common display device 14 is governed by the controller 18. In particular, the controller 18 determines when a display event occurs. A display event may be any event in which the common display device 14 is used to communicate information to the player or players. For example, a display event may be generated when a player elects to play a bonus game.

In one embodiment, segments are only associated with one gaming device. For example, if the indicia is color, all segments 26 that correspond to gaming device 12a, display the relevant color. The color may be displayed as part of the symbol displayed on the segment, a background to the symbol, or a border around the segment. Indicia may also include location on the common display device 14. For example, all segments associated with a particular gaming device may be in a designated area or areas of the display device. In the example illustrated in FIG. 3, every third segment is associated with the same gaming device, however more deliberate divisions made be made without the requirement for color or other indicia. For example, all segments from the left side up to a division may be associated with gaming device 12a, all segments from the right side up to a division may be associated with gaming device 12c and all segments in between the two divisions may be associated with gaming device 12b. Lines or other markings may be used on the common display device 14 to show the divisions.

In one embodiment, a single segment may be associated with more than one gaming devices. In this embodiment, a segment may normally display a neutral color that is not associated with any of the gaming devices. When required, such as during a display event, the controller 18 may change the indicia of the segment to the indicia of any one of the gaming devices 12. For example, if the indication device is back lighting (lighting devices positioned behind the symbol displayed on the segment), then the indicia may be color and the indication device may be configured to produce different colored lighting when the segment is selectively associated with the different gaming devices 12. In the example illustrated in FIG. 4, segment 41 is currently selected and associated with gaming device 12a while segment 42 is also currently selected but is associated with gaming device 12b.

As discussed above, in one embodiment each segment displays one indicia that indicates that it is associated with only one gaming device. When a display event occurs, such as during a bonus game, the controller 18 selects a segment to highlight and causes an indication device to indicate the segment that has been selected. In one embodiment, a segment may be randomly selected by the controller 18. In one embodiment, a game symbol may be randomly selected and the controller 18 selects a segment bearing the selected game symbol. When the indicator device is provided to the selected segment, a player may then see that game symbol that is being indicated for that player. When two or more different segments are indicated simultaneously, players are able to determine which segment applies to them by the indicia displayed.

In another embodiment, segments may selectively display more than one indicia, i.e., any segment may be selectively associated with any gaming device. In this embodiment, indicia may be displayed by the indication device, such as multi color light emitting diode (LED) back lights. When a display event occurs, the controller 18 selects a segment and causes the segment's indication device to indicate the segment using the appropriate indicia. When two or more different segments are simultaneously displayed, players can see which segment applies to them by the displayed indicia.

An example of game play using the gaming apparatus 10 will now be described with reference to the flow chart 100 illustrated in FIG. 5. At step 101, players place wagers through individual gaming devices 12 and play games to generate gaming outcomes (step 102). Occasionally, certain gaming outcomes will trigger the playing of a bonus game (step 103). For example, the bonus game may be initiated by the appearance of three bonus symbols on a played line of the relevant gaming device. The player is prompted to press an appropriate button 32 to begin the bonus round (step 104). Commencement of the bonus round causes one or more display events on the common display device 14 (step 105). At the conclusion of the display event(s), an outcome of the bonus round is displayed (step 106) and the player may then return to step 101 to place another wager and commence another game cycle.

In one example, the bonus game awards a player with three selections from the game board provided on the common display device 14. The player may perform a selection by pressing an appropriate button on their gaming device. In one embodiment, individual segments of the game board may be randomly highlighted at a relatively rapid rate with the indicating device corresponding to the player's gaming device. When the player makes a selection, the random highlighting of the segments stops with the last highlighted segment being permanently indicated using the relevant indicating device. The process then repeats for the player's remaining two game board selections. At the conclusion of the three selections, game symbols of the three highlighted segments are combined to determine a final outcome of the bonus prize.

FIG. 6 illustrates the state of the game board at the end of the bonus game. Segments 21a, 21b and 21c have been selected by the player and are indicated by the indicia corresponding to the player's gaming device. To determine the player's bonus award, bonus award amounts are added together and then multiplied by any multiplier values won. The selected segments 21a, 21b, 21c correspond to gaming symbols “25”, “100” and “2x”, yielding a bonus award of 250. The total bonus award amount may be multiplied by the initiating line bet, i.e. the initial wager at the relevant gaming device. Once the total bonus award is calculated, the display screen 24a corresponding to the player's gaming device may be updated to display the total bonus award amount won by the player.

Certain ones of the segments may display images such as wild card images, bonus prize images or zero indicating images. For example, in the common display of FIG. 6, segments 21d, 21e, 21f and 21g each display a devil image, corresponding to a zero credit value. If a player selects a devil image during play of the bonus game, the total bonus prize won by the player will be zero. However, in one embodiment, if the player selects three devil images, the player may be rewarded with an additional bonus award, such as 1000 credits.

In one embodiment, the game symbols of the segments randomly change while waiting for the player to make a selection.

In one embodiment, multiple players may play a bonus game simultaneously. The controller may govern the random highlighting of the segments with the indicating devices such that no one segment is simultaneously highlighted by more than one indicating device.

In one embodiment, the selection of the segments is made by the controller without intervention by the player. For example, the segments may be randomly selected by flashing the segment with a gaming device's indicating device and/or indicia (i.e. indicating and de-indicating) before indicating a segment by highlighting the segment with the respective indicia for a longer period of time.

In one embodiment, the bonus game uses only a single selection and the bonus is determined from the game symbol displayed in the selected segment.

The segments of the display device may be provided as a portion of a video screen or may be provided as discrete displays. Lighting of the segments may be provided by light emitting diodes or any similar lighting means.

By providing a common display device 14 as described, other players and spectators may readily share in the excitement of the player's win, in particular by watching the play of the bonus game on the large common display. An additional advantage is that a player may be encouraged by the presence of the other players and spectators to pursue a bonus game, thus further increasing the player's enjoyment and excitement.

The person skilled in the art will readily understand that many modifications of the embodiments described herein for playing the bonus game using the common display device are possible and all such modifications are considered to fall within the range of equivalents and are considered to fall within the scope of the invention. In addition, the common display need not be used only with bonus games. Base game play of the individual gaming devices can also incorporate display events of the common display device.

Although the description above contains many specifications, these should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention but as merely providing illustrations of some of the embodiments of this invention. Thus, the scope of the invention should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents rather than by the examples given.