Title:
Volcano target game with scoring mechanism
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A target game device played with a ball or other projectile for use in places such as amusement parks, arcades or the home is disclosed. An essential element of the game device is that a variety of special effects are used to add excitement as a player gets closer to winning and continue after winning. The game device consists of one or more targets at which a projectile such as a ball is tossed or rolled by one or more players of the game. In the preferred embodiment, the main target is the open-ended top of a cylinder in the center of a volcano-shaped game housing. The balls or projectiles are collected in the cylinder as players of the game successfully toss the balls into the target opening at the top of the housing. As the balls pass into the target, a game status display tabulates the score of the game. When the players successfully throw a certain number of balls within a determined time limit, they essentially “win” the game causing the device's game controller to activate a propulsion mechanism at the bottom of the cylinder which propels the collected balls in the cylinder upward and out of the cylinder, creating an “eruption” of balls. Coinciding with this “eruption” smoke, fire, glowing lights, sound, and vibration are generated to simulate a real eruption, adding to the entertainment value of winning the game. The device can also be programmed with different sets of game rules in other embodiments. Various shapes and sizes of this game as well as the number and types of targets allow flexibility such that the game can be played indoors and outdoors, including arcades. Another embodiment of the game has a flat surface with a caricature of a devil whose mouth and eyes are the targets. When a player wins the game, smoke comes out of the mouth and the eyes light up. In other embodiments, the surface of the game device can be made to allow players to roll balls into the target or targets.



Inventors:
Thiemann, Gerry B. (Cincinnati, OH, US)
Application Number:
10/028184
Publication Date:
06/26/2003
Filing Date:
12/20/2001
Assignee:
THIEMANN GERRY B.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F41J5/04; F41J5/24; (IPC1-7): F41J5/04
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Primary Examiner:
GRAHAM, MARK S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GERRY B. THIEMANN (CINCINNATI, OH, US)
Claims:

What I claim is:



1. A target game device that accommodates one or more players wherein each player attempts to acquire one or more targets in accordance with game rules by propelling projectiles at said targets comprising: a game housing incorporating one or more targets; a plurality of said projectiles; a target sensor for each of said targets that generates a target signal each time said target sensor detects that said target is acquired in accordance with game rules; a game status display for each of said players; an special effects generator; and a game controller that receives said target signal, controls game sequence in accordance with game rules, control said game status display and activates said special effects generator when a player wins the game.

2. A target game device as described in claim 1 further comprising a projectile return means.

3. A target game device as described in claim 1 wherein said game controller is programmable.

4. A target game device as described in claim 3 wherein said programmable game controller is programmed with one or more selectable games.

5. A target game device as described in claim 4 wherein said selectable games include more than one level of play.

6. A target game device as described in claim 1 wherein said game status display comprises: a means for displaying the scores of players in previous games; and a means for displaying the scores of players in a game currently being played.

7. A target game device as described in claim 1 wherein said special effects generator comprises: a means for producing sound; a means for producing smoke; a means for producing fire; a means for producing light; a means for propelling objects into the air; and a means for producing vibration.

8. A target game device that accommodates one or more players wherein each player attempts to acquire one or more targets in accordance with game rules by propelling projectiles at said targets comprising: a game housing incorporating one or more targets; a plurality of said projectiles; a projectile return means; a target sensor for each of said targets that generates a target signal each time said target sensor detects that said target is acquired in accordance with game rules; a game status display for each of said players; an special effects generator that produces sound and light, generates smoke and fire, propels objects into the air, and vibrates when it is activated; and a programmable game controller that receives said target signal, controls the game sequence in accordance with game rules, controls said game status display, and activates said special effects generator.

9. A target game device as described in claim 8 wherein said programmable game controller is programmed with one or more selectable games.

10. A target game device as described in claim 9 wherein said selectable games include more than one level of difficulty.

11. A target game device that accommodates one or more players wherein each player attempts to win a game by acquiring one or more targets comprising: a game housing incorporating one or more of said targets; a plurality of said projectiles; a predetermined set of game rules; a target sensor for each of said targets that generates a target signal; a game status display; an special effects generator; and a game controller that receives said target signal, controls game sequence, controls said game status display and activates said special effects generator.

12. A target game device as described in claim 11 wherein said game rules for a multi-player game comprise: each player of said game propelling said projectiles at one or more of said targets; sending a target signal to said game controller each time said projectile activates one of said target sensors; accumulating the number of target sensor activations for each player; and activating said special effects generator indicating which of said players was the first to accumulate a predetermined number of target sensor activations.

13. A target game device as described in claim 11 wherein said game rules for a multi-player game comprise: each player of said game propelling said projectiles at one or more of said targets; sending a target signal to said game controller each time said projectile activates one of said target sensors; accumulating the number of target sensor activations for each player; and activating said special effects generator and indicating which of said players accumulated the greatest number of target sensor activations in a predetermined time.

14. A target game device as described in claim 11 wherein said game rules for a multi-player game comprise: each player of said game propelling said projectiles at one or more of said targets; sending a target signal to said game controller each time said projectile activates one of said target sensors; accumulating the sequence in which each of said target sensor activations occurred for each player; and activating said special effects generator and indicating which of said players was first to activate said target sensors in a predetermined order.

15. A target game device as described in claim 11 wherein said game rules for a multi-player game comprise: each player of said game propelling said projectiles at one or more of said targets; sending a target signal to said game controller each time said projectile activates one of said target sensors; accumulating the sequence in which each of said target sensor activations occurred for each player; and activating said special effects generator and indicating which of said players accumulated the greatest number of target sensor activations in a predetermined order within a predetermined time.

16. A target game device as described in claim 11 wherein said game rules for a multi-player game comprise: randomly designating one or more of said targets; each player of said game propelling said projectiles at one or more of said targets as they are randomly designated targets by said game controller; sending a target signal to said game controller each time said projectile activates one of said randomly designated target sensors; accumulating the number of randomly designated target sensor activations for each player; and activating said special effects generator and indicating which of said players was the first to accumulate a predetermined number of randomly designated target sensor activations.

17. A target game device as described in claim 11 wherein said game rules for a multi-player game comprise: randomly designating one or more of said targets; each player of said game propelling said projectiles at one or more of said targets as they are randomly designated targets by said game controller; sending a target signal to said game controller each time said projectile activates one of said randomly designated target sensors; accumulating the number of randomly designated target sensor activations for each player; and activating said special effects generator and indicating which of said players accumulated the greatest number of randomly designated target sensor activations within a predetermined time.

18. A target game device as described in claim 11 wherein said game rules for a multi-player game comprise: each player of said game propelling said projectiles at one or more of said targets; sending a target signal to said game controller each time said projectile activates one of said target sensors; accumulating the number of target sensor activations for each player; generating a game status display signal that indicates which player is closer to winning said game; and activating said special effects generator and indicating which of said players was the first to accumulate a predetermined number of target sensor activations.

19. A target game device as described in claim 11 wherein said game rules for a multi-player game comprise: each player of said game propelling said projectiles at one or more of said targets; sending a target signal to said game controller each time said projectile activates one of said target sensors; accumulating the number of target sensor activations for each player; said game controller awarding any player bonus time to play said game if said player accumulates a predetermined number of target sensor activations within a predetermined reward time; generating a game status display signal that indicates which player is closer to winning said game; and activating said special effects generator and indicating which of said players accumulated the greatest number of target sensor activations.

20. A target game device as described in claim 11 wherein said game rules comprise: each player of said game propelling said projectiles at one or more of said targets; sending a target signal to said game controller each time said projectile activates one of said target sensors; accumulating the number of target sensor activations; and activating said special effects generator when a predetermined number of target sensor activations are accumulated.

21. A target game device as described in claim 11 wherein said game rules comprise: each player of said game propelling said projectiles at one or more of said targets; sending a target signal to said game controller each time said projectile activates one of said target sensors; accumulating the number of target sensor activations; and activating said special effects generator when a predetermined number of target sensor activations are accumulated in a predetermined time.

22. A target game device as described in claim 11 wherein said game rules comprise: each player of said game propelling said projectiles at one or more of said targets; sending a target signal to said game controller each time said projectile activates one of said target sensors; accumulating the sequence in which each of said target sensor activations occurred; and activating said special effects generator when said target sensors are acquired in a predetermined order.

23. A target game device as described in claim 11 wherein said game rules comprise: each player of said game propelling said projectiles at one or more of said targets; sending a target signal to said game controller each time said projectile activates one of said target sensors; accumulating the sequence in which each of said target sensor activations occurred; and activating said special effects generator when said target sensors are acquired in a predetermined order within a predetermined time.

24. A target game device as described in claim 11 wherein said game rules comprise: randomly designating one or more of said targets; each player of said game propelling said projectiles at one or more of said targets as they are randomly designated targets by said game controller; sending a target signal to said game controller each time said projectile activates one of said randomly designated target sensors; accumulating the number of randomly designated target sensor activations; and activating said special effects generator when a predetermined number of randomly designated target sensor activations are accumulated.

25. A target game device as described in claim 11 wherein said game rules comprise: randomly designating one or more of said targets; each player of said game propelling said projectiles at one or more of said targets as they are randomly designated targets by said game controller; sending a target signal to said game controller each time said projectile activates one of said randomly designated target sensors; accumulating the number of randomly designated target sensor activations; and activating said special effects generator when a predetermined number of randomly designated target sensor activations are accumulated within a predetermined time.

26. A target game device as described in claim 11 wherein said game rules comprise: each player of said game propelling said projectiles at one or more of said targets; sending a target signal to said game controller each time said projectile activates one of said target sensors; accumulating the number of target sensor activations; said game controller awarding bonus time to play said game if a predetermined number of target sensor activations are accumulated within a predetermined reward time; activating said special effects generator when a predetermined number of target sensor activations have been accumulated.

27. A target game device as described in claim 11 wherein said game rules comprise: each player of said game propelling a predetermined number of said projectiles at one or more of said targets; said targets having an assigned point value; sending a target signal to said game controller each time said projectile activates one of said target sensors; accumulating the number of target sensor activations with said assigned point values; said game controller tabulating the cumulative score of said game based on the number of said target sensor activations with said assigned point values; and activating said special effects generator when a predetermined score has been reached.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates generally to amusement equipment, such as facilities for games and other competitive activities. More specifically, the invention relates to a volcano-shaped amusement target game in which participants toss objects into the opening at the top of the volcano to score points and induce eruption-like actions such as simulated smoke, noise, and the expulsion of objects upwards out of the top of the game.

[0002] In recent years, there has been a steady increase in the development and popularity of amusement parks, arcades and family amusement centers. Such amusement facilities frequently include games of skill such as basketball games, ring toss games, or pinball machines. These activities require a fee each time a participant plays. As these amusement facilities compete for customers and want to encourage repeat business, there is a need to provide new and diverse games of skill. This is particularly true of arcade-type games.

[0003] An example of an amusement game utilizing a target is U.S. Pat. No. 4,013,292 to Cohen et al. called an ‘Automatic basketball game having scoring indicator and time limitation’. This game has a coin-operated switch to release basketballs to a player and to initiate a timing circuit. The player attempts to convert as many baskets as possible during the time interval of the game. The basketball hoop has means to indicate when a score has been made. Visual display means are provided to indicate the score made, the time interval remaining in which the player can attempt to score and the number of successively won games.

[0004] U.S. Pat. No. 6,179,295 to Lanza discloses a Frog Target Game which is composed of a surface area with multiple apertures or targets through which a chip can be tossed to get points. A chip thrown through the central aperture gets the highest points. Chips going into the apertures are collected in a drawer below the surface to be collected later.

[0005] Another example of a game utilizing targets is U.S. Pat. No. 6,209,876 to Franklin, which discloses a Football Target Game. This game consists of a target having a goal post extending from a base, a crossbar perpendicular to the goal post, and a pair of uprights extending upward from the crossbar. A center target within the surrounding target includes a top rail extending between the pair of uprights and a U-frame member extending from the top rail. The target has a net connected to the crossbar, the uprights and the top rail while the center target has a net connected to the top rail and the U-frame members, the nets being of different colors. The object of the game is to flick a small football toward the targets by a player's finger. The football can be held on a tee or a pad and held by the player's finger.

[0006] From the above discussion, it can be appreciated that there is a wide variety of target games already available to the public. Each game offers a different amusement experience to players as well as advantages to owners of amusement facilities. Some have electronics allowing for sophisticated timing and scoring while others are simpler and easier to maintain. While the present invention incorporates elements of prior art such as electronic timing and score keeping, a target or plurality of targets, it differs from prior art in several important ways. It can be built in various dimensions to accommodate the size of a facility, the age and strength of the players, and any other variables. For example, a smaller version can be used in an indoor arcade setting similar in size and function to the popular Skee-ball game, U.S. Pat. No. 1,221,803, Johnston. Or a larger version with more dramatic special effects can be used in a large indoor setting, or more spectacularly, in an outdoor setting. Special effects like sound, smoke, fire, lights and vibration can be used to add excitement and give the players the feeling of a doom, like an eruption of a volcano or a burst of fire from a devil's mouth, both of which could be accompanied by various colored clouds of smoke. This makes the present invention unique and more attractive for both amusement facility owners and their customers.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] In accordance with the purposes of the present invention as described herein, a target game device is provided. The target game device accommodates one or more players wherein each player attempts to acquire one or more targets in accordance with game rules by propelling projectiles at said targets. Players may throw or roll projectiles such as balls towards a target. The game device consists of a housing that may take various 2 or 3 dimensional forms. A two dimensional version would have one or more targets on it with a volcano, caricature, or other shape, either painted or attached to its surface. A three dimensional form could be in the shape of a volcano. Each target has a sensor which would send a target signal to a game controller each time the target is acquired or activated when a player throws or rolls a projectile like a ball into, through or striking the target. A game status display is mounted on the housing or on a structure near the housing in plain view of the game's participants. For versions of the game with players competing against each other, each player or team would have their score displayed. A game status display indicates the score for each player, the time remaining in the game, as well as any additional information, such as bonus points, scores of other players, or scores from previous games. A special effects generator makes the game exciting providing special effects like light, sound, smoke, fire, vibration and the propulsion of objects outward or upward. A game controller such as a microprocessor receives the signals from the target sensors, controls the game's sequence according to the game rules, updates the game status display with the correct scores and time remaining and activates the special effects of the special effects generator when a player wins the game or has reached a significant time or point level reached in the game. The special effects generator is actually a feature and a function of the game controller. Because special effects are of such importance to the present invention, the special effects generator is discussed separately at times from the game controller. A game controller built with a microprocessor allows the game's operator to program the controller to modify the game's rules and special effects, add new games, as well as allowing the game operator the ability to select among a variety of games already programmed into the microprocessor depending on the desires of the game operator's clients. This programmable feature enables the design of games having multi-levels of play and difficulty. For example, the first level of play could have game rules whereby the player must throw a certain number of balls into a target within a predetermined time period. If successful, the player advances to the next level with different and perhaps more difficult rules whereby the player must throw balls through randomly designated targets, as they are illuminated by a light, for example. Or another multi-level version of the game rules has a reward time period in that if a player throws a certain number of balls through the target within the reward time period, the player would win bonus time to play longer, with the extra time period being the next level. Higher point values could be assigned when a target is successfully acquired by a player in the additional bonus time period.

[0008] Since the game involves players throwing or rolling projectiles like balls, the game device can have a projectile return device so that the balls return to the players to be replayed again. A gravity-based design can easily be incorporated to allow balls to roll back towards the players. Other non-gravity based designs can be incorporated as well.

[0009] A unique and desirable feature of the game status display is that it can be designed to list the highest or most recent scores of the game with the player's names or initials beside the scores. This feature encourages players to play more often to achieve a higher score so their peers will see their name, providing more revenue for the game operator. The game status display acts as a time clock and scoreboard for the players. For game rules having more than one player currently competing against each other, the game status display can show the other players' scores during the game as well. The game housing can have one or more game status displays so that each player or groups of players can easily see their scores. The display can be mounted on the game housing or in close proximity to the game housing for easy viewing.

[0010] A principle feature of the game device is a mechanism, or special effects generator, which rewards the players as they advance and win the game. In the volcano-shaped version of the game, a special effects generator accomplishes this by using sound, light, smoke, fire, propelling objects into the air and vibrating the game's housing. The elements of light, sound, fire, objects being propelled into the air, and vibration all give the player the illusion of a volcano erupting. Sound can be generated by placing audio speakers inside the game housing or mounted in close proximity to the game housing. Lights can be mounted on the exterior surface of the game housing or on the exterior or the interior of the game's targets. Lights could also be mounted beside or above the game housing to shine onto the game. Smoke and fire generators are mounted inside the game housing with the smoke and fire escaping through a hole in the housing or through a target, with the target resembling a crater of the volcano. A mechanism to propel objects into the air is used to simulate an eruption. The objects can be the projectiles throw by the players and collected in the targets or they can be other objects used solely for simulating an eruption.

[0011] As mentioned earlier, a principle feature of the game device is to use special effects to reward the player for winning the game. The version of the game with a two dimensional surface can have volcano painted on or facsimile thereof attached to it whereby the special effects generator's components are mounted behind it. Or another feature such as the face of a clown or a devil caricature can be painted with the mouth and eyes being targets. In this version, lights, smoke, and fire can come out of the eyes and mouth, with the speakers emitting noise appropriate to the target: booming sounds for a volcano target, laughing or cheering from a clown, or screams or the taunting of a mean voice for the devil. It must be pointed out that the special effects generator has many components and not all of them have to be incorporated to get the proper special effects. For example, fire would not be appropriate coming from a clowns mouth but would be for a devil. For a clown, instead of fire or smoke, a spray of water or even a green gooey substance could be propelled out of the game housing. It must also be noted that the game is not limited to shapes of volcanoes, clowns, devils, people or animals, but could be merely targets on two or three dimensional game housings. One of the important elements of the game being that as a player advances and wins the games, they are rewarded by special effects of the game produced by the special effects generator.

[0012] The preceding described the hardware components of the game device. The various sets of game rules will now be discussed. One basic category of game rules has the player or players competing against the game, the other category of game rules for a multi-player game has players competing against each other as they play the game. It must be noted that in both basic set of rules, a player can be one player or a group of players. That is, in the set of rules where the players compete against the game, as one or several players propel projectiles at one or more targets, the game targets and controllers do not distinguish which target was acquired by which player, only that a target was acquired. And only one score is tabulated. Whereas in the multi-player game rules, the players or groups of players compete against each other, and a score for each player or groups of players is tabulated and shown on the game status display.

[0013] The category of game rules for a multi-player game will now be described. In one set of game rules, the first player to acquire a predetermined number of target sensor activations wins the game. The players have as much time as they need. For example, the predetermined number is 10, and each player has a particular target or targets to throw a projectile such as a ball into. When the game commences, the players quickly try to throw the balls into their target. The target sensor detects when a ball passes into the target and signals the game controller and game status display which tabulate the number of times each target sensor has been activated. The first player to throw 10 balls into their target wins, and the special effects generator activates the appropriate light, sound, and other effects. Another set of game rules is similar to the first but differ in that the player who throws the most balls into their target within a predetermined time period wins. For example, the players in this game could have 60 seconds to throw as many projectiles as they want into the target. The game status display would not only show how many times each player has acquired a target but also the time remaining of the game. When the game is over, the player with the most target acquisitions wins and the special effects generator could activate effects around his target and station to indicate to all players who won the game.

[0014] Another set of game rules for a multi-player game has each player throwing projectiles at multiple targets where the player must throw a ball into the targets in a certain order or sequence and the first one to do so wins. For example, each player could have five targets to throw at. And the players would be instructed as to which sequence of targets they must throw towards, i.e. first, second, third, fourth and fifth. The target sensors would signal the game controller as the balls pass through the targets and then controller would accumulate the sequence keeping track of each player's progress in the game. When the first player successfully throws balls into the targets in the correct predetermined order, the game controller would activate the special effects generator and indicate which player won the game.

[0015] A variation of this set of game rules has the player who got the greatest number of target sensor activations in a predetermined order within a predetermined time winning the game. For example, if the game lasted 2 minutes with each player throwing at five targets in a sequence, players who have successfully thrown balls into all of the five targets in the proper sequence could again start throwing balls at the targets at the beginning of the sequence. When the two minutes were up, the player who acquired the most targets in the proper sequence wins.

[0016] Another set of game rules for a multi-player game has each player throwing projectiles at multiple targets where the player must throw a ball into the targets in a random order and the first one to acquire a predetermined number of targets wins. For example, each player could have five targets to throw at. And the players would be instructed to throw a ball at a target when it is designated at random. In one version, a light next to each target is illuminated for a period of 3 seconds to indicate that the player should throw at it. During the three-second period the player must acquire that target, after which, another target is randomly illuminated whereby the player must throw at it within the 3 seconds. The target sensors would only signal the game controller if the balls passes through the target when it is illuminated. The controller would accumulate or tabulate the number of each player's successful target acquisitions in the game. When the first player successfully acquires a predetermined number of randomly designated targets, the game controller would activate the special effects generator and indicate which player won the game. In a variation of this game the player who got the greatest number of target sensor activations in a random order within a predetermined time would win.

[0017] As mentioned previously, the game rules for multi-player games can have a reward time period during which if a player successfully acquires a predetermined amount of targets during the reward time period, this player gets a bonus time to play the game. During this additional time more targets can be acquired. For example, if during the first minute of play, the reward time, a player acquires 20 targets, an additional bonus time of one more minute would be allotted. The game status display would indicate this to the players and the special effects generator could be activated to indicate which player won the bonus time.

[0018] The category of game rules for one player or players competing against the game, or ‘single-player’ games, will now be described. In one set of game rules, the player wins after acquiring a predetermined number of target sensor activations. The player has as much time as needed. The target sensor detects when a ball passes into the target and signals the game controller and game status display which tabulate the number of times each target sensor has been activated. When the player acquires the predetermined number of targets to win the game, the special effects generator activates the appropriate light, sound, and other effects. Another set of game rules is similar, but differs in that the player tries to throw as many balls as possible into his target within a predetermined time period. For example, players in this game could have 60 seconds to throw as many projectiles as they want into the target. The game status display would not only show how many times players have acquired a target but also the time remaining of the game. When the game is over, the volcano simulator could activate effects around the target if a significant amount of targets have been acquired.

[0019] Another set of game rules in this category has the player throwing projectiles at multiple targets where the player must throw a ball into the targets in a certain order or sequence. For example, the player could have five targets to throw at. And the player would be instructed as to which sequence of targets they must throw towards, i.e. first, second, third, fourth and fifth. The target sensors would signal the game controller as the balls pass through the targets and then controller would accumulate the sequence keeping track of the player's progress in the game. When the player successfully throws balls into the targets in the predetermined order, the game controller would activate the special effects generator and indicate the player won the game. A variation of this set of game rules gives the player a predetermined amount of time to acquire the targets in a predetermined order to win the game. In still another variation of this set of game rules, the player would try to acquire the most targets in a predetermined sequence in a predetermined time.

[0020] Another set of game rules in the category of game rules for one player or players competing against the game has the player throwing projectiles at multiple targets where the player must throw a ball into the targets in a random order. When the player acquires a predetermined number of targets, the player wins. For example, the player could have five targets to throw at with instructions to throw a ball at a target when it is designated at random. In one version, a light next to each target is illuminated for a period of 3 seconds to indicate that the player should throw at it. During the three-second period the player must acquire that target, after which, another target is randomly illuminated which the player must throw at within the 3 seconds. The target sensors would only signal the game controller if the balls passes through the target when it is illuminated. The controller would accumulate the player's successful target acquisitions in the game. When the player successfully acquires a predetermined number of randomly designated targets, the game controller would activate the special effects generator to indicate the player won the game. In a variation of this game the player would try to get the greatest number of target sensor activations in a random order within a predetermined time.

[0021] As mentioned previously for game rules for multi-player games, single-player games can have a reward time period during which, if the player successfully acquires a predetermined amount of targets during the reward time period, a bonus time would be awarded to play the game during which more targets could be acquired. For example, if during the first minute of play, the reward time, a player acquires 20 targets, an additional bonus time of one more minute to play would be given. The game status display would indicate this to the player and the special effects generator could be activated to indicate the player has won the bonus time.

[0022] Another set of rules for a single-player game would have a limited amount of projectiles with which to propel at a target. Each target would have an assigned point value. For example, the easier targets to acquire could have low point values while the harder to acquire targets would have higher point values. The object of the game would be for the player to acquire the most points with a limited amount of projectiles. The special effects generator could be activated when the player successfully acquires a predetermined number of points during the course of the game.

[0023] As mentioned previously, the game controller can be programmable to allow the game operator to adjust the settings to maximize the enjoyment of the game's players. The settings of the time of the game, the number of points required to win, and the special effects like the volume of audio speakers, the vibration generator, the lights, the propulsion mechanism, and the smoke and fire generator would all be adjustable. The game controller can also operate a combination of these special effects devices in a manner to make the game more exciting before the game is over. For example, the speakers could emit a booming sound or flashing lights could be activated each time a ball successfully enters a target. Or, as players throw the ball into the target(s) and get higher and higher scores, the game controller could activate the various special effects devices in an escalating manner to create the excitement of winning the game, of an impending eruption, or of a caricature about to expel smoke or fire from its mouth.

[0024] The surface of the volcano-shaped housing could be shaped so that players can roll the projectiles or balls upward along the housing's surface and into the target(s). This would give the players another way to play the game and would allow the game to be played indoors in areas with low ceilings.

[0025] It must be noted that the game device can be designed to be portable enabling game operators to easily transport it. A coin-operated mechanism can be installed to ease in the collection of monies or tokens. A ticket dispensing mechanism, which awards tickets based on how successfully a player plays a game, can be installed for those operators who use tickets or other means to encourage their patrons to play their games and to win tickets to exchange for prizes.

[0026] The special effects generator can be designed according to the needs of simplicity, cost, the operator, the environment where the game will be used and game rules. To make the game device more marketable, for example, cost and simplicity may require only certain special effects be incorporated such as light and sound which are cheaper in design and manufacturing. In another example, game rules and design may require only sound and smoke to be used as special effects.

[0027] Still other objects of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in this art from the following description wherein there is shown and described a preferred embodiment of this invention, simply by way of illustration. As will be realized, the invention is capable of other different embodiments, and that several details are capable of modification, and various, obvious aspects are possible all without departing from the invention. Accordingly, the drawings and descriptions will be regarded as illustrative in nature and not restrictive.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0028] The accompanying drawings incorporated in and forming a part of the specification illustrate several aspects of the present invention, and together with the description, serve to explain the principals of the invention. In the drawing:

[0029] FIG. 1 is a cross-sectional view of the target game device with the special effects generator, game status display, game controller and cylindrical target.

[0030] FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the target game device of the present invention showing a propulsion of the balls out of the cylindrical target with smoke.

[0031] FIG. 3 is a view of the target game device of the present invention showing multiple targets. Each target has a chute allowing the balls to return to the players to be thrown again.

[0032] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the target game device of the present invention showing two targets. Each target has separate game status displays showing the scoreboard and time clock so that two players or teams of players can compete against each other in this game.

[0033] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the target game device of the present invention showing the surface of the game housing with a surface that allows a player to either roll or toss a ball up and into the target of the device. Also shown is the game status display behind the game housing.

[0034] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the target game device of the present invention showing the game housing with a two-dimensional surface. A cross-section of the game housing is shown with a projectile return device.

[0035] FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the target game device with a devil-like face on the game housing with a cross-sectional view of the game housing showing a smoke generator in action.

[0036] FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a game housing with 3 separate targets and game status displays.

[0037] FIG. 9 is a schematic design of the components of the target game device.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0038] Reference will now be made in detail to a preferred embodiment of the invention, an example of which is illustrated in the accompanying drawings, wherein like numerals indicate the same elements throughout the views. With reference to FIGS. 1-9, the target game device of the present invention is generally comprised of a free-standing game housing 3 with target 6 on the top with the option of having additional targets 30 as shown in FIGS. 3 and 8.

[0039] As best shown in FIG. 1, the free standing housing 3 functions as an exterior which is designed to look like a volcano in shape, color, texture, etc, with said housing 3 also functioning as a supporting structure for target 6, propulsion device 12, game status display 21 and all the other components of the game. The object of the game is for Player 2 to throw the projectile or ball 4 into the target 6. When the ball 4 passes through the target 6, a sensing means 24 detects the ball and sends a mechanical or electrical signal to the game controller 22. The game controller 22 then tabulates the score on a scoreboard 20 of game status display 21. When Player 2 has successfully thrown enough balls 4 into target 6, as shown in FIG. 2, which are detected by sensing means 24 and tabulated by game controller 22, game controller 22 will activate the special effects generator of the game controller whereby game controller 22 will initiate: the projectile propulsion mechanism 12 to discharge the projectiles 4 upward and outward of housing 3 through target 6; vibration generator 18 to cause housing 3 to shake in a manner like that of a real volcano; lights 8 to flash and smoke generators 10 to emit real or simulated smoke; audio units 16 to emit eruption-like sounds. The activation of special effects devices 8, 10, 12, 16, and 18 will indicate success to player 2 that he/she has won the game and said effect will, in essence, be the reward of having successfully thrown the required number of balls 4 into target 6 either during a set time period or without a set time period.

[0040] Depending on the set of game rules, there may or may not be a set time period during which a player or group of players must throw the balls into the target 6. Referring to FIG. 2, for example, game controller 22 could be programmed so that there is no time period by which a player 2 (or multiple players) must successfully throw balls 4 into target 6. One variation could be that when Player 2 throws ball(s) 4 through target 6 successfully 10 times, as recorded by sensing means 24 and tabulated by game controller 22 and indicated by game status display 21, the game controller 22 initiates the special effects generator (which is part of game controller 22.). Another variation would to modify the game status display 21 by adding a game clock 25 to display the amount of time left in the game to successfully throw enough balls into the target in order to activate the special effects. Thus the game could be programmed with a set of rules such that a player(s) has 60 seconds to throw 10 balls into the target, with the game clock 25 displaying the time remaining in the game.

[0041] Again, referring to FIG. 2, the game controller can be programmed to have a set of rules such that as Player 2 throws a ball 4 into target 6 and is detected by sensing means 24, the control means could activate one or more of the special effects generator's devices such as lights 8, smoke generator 10, sound device 16, or vibration generator 18, or activate a combination of these, to give Player 2 feedback that his/her throw was successful and to “reward” them for the successful throw, with this activity constituting feedback. Further, the game could be programmed so that with each successful throw, the special effects generator could be activated more strongly to signal Player 2 that he is getting closer to winning the game and that the special effect of an impending eruption is about to happen. This effect would heighten the enjoyment and excitement of the game.

[0042] FIG. 3 shows an alternative embodiment of the game in which there are multiple openings or targets 30 for two or more players, Player 2 and Player 34 in FIG. 3. The advantage of having multiple targets is that it allows the players to throw projectiles into the targets without interference. In other words, if there were multiple players throwing balls simultaneously, the balls could hit each other on their way to the target causing the balls not to enter the target. In addition, targets 30 are lower than target 6 making it easier for younger players to throw a ball into. This would also make the game more accessible for players with physical handicaps. A projectile return device 43 is shown inside game housing 3, as represented by the dotted lines, whereby players 2 and 34 can retrieve ball 4, having entered targets 30, in receptacle 46.

[0043] FIG. 4 shows an alternative embodiment with duel targets 6 and 7. Player 2 and Player 34 compete against each other to score the most points and get their respective special effects generators to activate first. This embodiment can be played with dual game status displays 21.

[0044] With reference to FIG. 5, the target game device of the present invention shows the game housing 3 with a surface that allows player 2 to roll a ball 4 on the surface of housing 3 or throw a ball towards target 6 on the top of the housing 3. A structure 40 would have the game status display 21 mounted on it. The game housing 3 would have opening 46 where balls 4 would return to players after entering target 6. Housing 3 could also be designed to have a groove around its base to allow missed balls 4 to return to player 2 so that player 2 would not have to retrieve balls 4 on the other side of housing 3. The special effects generator, not shown in FIG. 5, can be placed inside of housing 3. The game controller could be mounted inside housing 3 or behind Structure 40.

[0045] With reference to FIG. 6, the target game device of the present invention shows the game housing 3 with a two-dimensional surface that has a volcano 48 painted on or attached to it. Housing 3 has game status display 21 mounted on it. Player 2 throws ball 4 at target 6. The game housing 3 would have a projectile return device 43 whereby ball 4 enters target 6, drops down the projectile return device 43 and exits through opening 42 where balls 4 would return and roll back towards Player 2 on surface 44 which slopes back towards Player 2. The game controller 22 is positioned behind housing 3. In one set of game rules, the player must acquire targets 6 in a sequential order. Game controller 22 illuminates lights 8 to indicate the sequential order to player 2 so that player 2 knows the order in which to acquire targets 6. Game controller activates the corresponding light 8 above the sequentially activated target 6 to be acquired as well as the corresponding target sensor 24 located inside of target 6 (target sensor 24 not shown in this drawing). Player 2 must acquire the target illuminated by light 8 before attempting to acquire another target 6. When player 2 correctly acquires target 6, target sensor 24 sends a signal to game controller 22 which then activates the next target 6 in the sequential order by activating the corresponding light 8 and target sensor 24. In another set of game rules, game controller 22 randomly illuminates lights 8 above one of targets 6 for a short period of time indicating to player 2 which target is activated and should be acquired. After the short time period, game controller 22 randomly selects another target 6 and illuminates its corresponding light 8 (with the corresponding target sensor activated as well.) Player 2 must continue to acquire the randomly selected targets 6 as they are activated by game controller 22 as indicated by light 8 until acquiring a predetermined number of targets or the predetermined time is up (as dictated by game rules.)

[0046] With reference to FIG. 7, the target game device of the present invention shows the game housing 3 with a two-dimensional surface that has a devil-like caricature 49 painted on or attached to it. The openings of the eyes and mouth of caricature 49 are targets 6. Lights 8 are mounted inside housing 3 and projectile return device 43 and shine through targets 6 that make up the eyes of caricature 49. The smoke generator 10 is mounted inside of housing 3 and projectile return device 43. When player 2 wins the game, game controller 22 activates the special effects generator (part of game controller 22) which signals the smoke generator 10 and lights 8 to activate. Game status display 21 has a screen 50 which displays the initials of previous winners of the game with their corresponding scores.

[0047] With reference to FIG. 8, the target game device of the present invention shows the game housing 3 with a two-dimensional surface that has three devil-like caricatures 49 painted on or attached to it. Targets 6 are located in the eyes and mouths of caricatures 49. FIG. 8 shows a configuration of the present invention which allows for a multi-player game. The players 2 compete against each other by throwing projectiles 4 at their own respective targets 6. Game status display 21 indicates the score of each player on scoreboard 20, the time remaining on game clock 25 and the scores of other players on screen 52.

[0048] With reference to FIG. 9, a schematic diagram shows the major components of the target game device and their relationships to each other. Numbers are not used to reference this diagram since each component is labeled. The game controller is linked to all the major components except the projectile return means. The special effects generator is inside the game controller box since it is a component of the game controller. The game controller is linked to the lights by the targets because certain game rules require the game controller to activate the lights to indicate to the players that they should attempt to acquire the target adjacent to the activated light. The projectile return means is connected to the targets so that the projectiles that enter the target can be returned to the players to be played again. The target sensors are linked to the game status display and the game controller in order to signal them both when a projectile passes through the target.