Title:
Livestock Judging game and method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method of conducting livestock judging games is provided which utilizes visual images of animals, such as livestock, and can be presented to, and played by, players in multiple geographies by utilizing a plurality of communication media, including the Internet, electronic mail, printed material, and other means. The method of conducting said livestock judging games consists of 5 primary elements: (1) displaying images of animal(s) to players, and providing to players the specific criteria which players are to utilize when judging one or more animals on a game-specific basis, (2) providing multiple means for players to judge said animals and, after doing so, enter their ranking designations into a central database, (3) providing means for player scores to be calculated in correspondence with each of multiple livestock judging and evaluation activities provided, and storing said scores in a centralized database, (4) providing means to communicate game results to players, and (5) providing means to award prizes to players. Various individual games are provided that are played by utilizing the method elements described above.



Inventors:
Brink, John T. (Thornton, CO, US)
Brink, Philip C. (Erie, CO, US)
Application Number:
10/097116
Publication Date:
09/18/2003
Filing Date:
03/14/2002
Assignee:
BRINK JOHN T.
BRINK PHILIP C.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F13/10; A63F13/12; A63F9/00; A63F11/00; (IPC1-7): A63F1/00
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Primary Examiner:
MENDIRATTA, VISHU K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PHILIP C. BRINK (ERIE, CO, US)
Claims:

We claim:



1. A method of conducting competitive livestock judging games for a plurality of players comprising: (a) Enabling each player to judge (i.e. evaluate) one or a plurality of animals by viewing images or other visual representations of said animals in electronic or print format; (b) Enabling each player to place (i.e. rank), select or categorize said animals based on described ranking or selection protocol and providing means for each player to enter his or her placement (i.e. ranking), selection or categorization choices into centralized database; (c) Automatically calculating a score for each player in conjunction with each game in which player participates, with each score being generated based upon specific scoring rules; (d) Storing player placement (i.e. ranking) and selection choices data, and player score data, in a centralized database; (e) Enabling each player to view his or her respective score and other scoring information regarding each game in which player has participated; and allowing players to compare their score(s) with other player score(s); (f) Providing one or multiple means of determining winners and awarding prizes to one or a plurality of players based on player scores or other criteria.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein the animal specie is bovine.

3. The method of claim 1 wherein the animal specie is equine.

4. The method of claim 1 wherein the animal specie is ovine.

5. The method of claim 1 wherein the animal specie is porcine.

6. The method of claim 1 wherein said method is conducted via one or a plurality of communication media including the Internet, electronic mail, print media, telephone, facsimile, interactive television, or other means of display and communication.

7. The method of claim 1, further comprising: Enabling each player to view and assess said animals by viewing images of said animals and comparing their respective individual physical characteristics in conjunction with any ancillary information provided about each animal.

8. The method of claim 1, further comprising: Presenting player with animal judging instructions which are based on commonly accepted specie-specific evaluation and ranking protocols or other evaluation and ranking criteria.

9. The method of claim 1, further comprising: Enabling player to judge said animals based on said animal ranking and evaluation instructions and include descriptive comments about said animals.

10. The method of claim 1, further comprising: Enabling player to convey said player-designated ranking and categorization data and any related descriptive comments player may add about said animals to the game operator by one or a plurality of communication means, including the Internet, electronic mail, and other means of communication.

11. The method of claim 1, further comprising: A method of storing player information in a centralized electronic database and managing said information correspondent to each player and their participation in said animal judging game(s), by providing a database whereby player information, including player-designated animal ranking and categorization information, player contact information, and other data can be entered, stored, and analyzed.

12. The method of claim 1, further comprising: The provision of a rule-based player scoring system whereby one or a plurality of methods can be used to determine the correct score for each player correspondent to each animal judging game in which each player participates, by comparing how closely the ranking selections and categorizations of each player match an official judge's rankings, or other suitable comparative scoring method.

13. The method of claim 1, further comprising: Enabling the communication of individual score results to players by providing one or a plurality of means of enabling players to access and view their scores corresponding with one or multiple said competitive animal judging games by utilizing one or a plurality of communication media including the Internet, electronic mail or other suitable communication means.

14. The method of claim 1, further comprising: Enabling the communication of the official judge's comments concerning the explanation and justification which he or she used to rank, place, or categorize the animal(s) displayed, depending upon the specific game, by communicating said comments via a plurality of means, including text, audio clip(s), video clip(s), some combination thereof, or other suitable means of communication.

15. The method of claim 1, further comprising: Awarding prizes to one or a plurality of players based on scores earned in playing said livestock judging games, or upon some randomized selection means dependent upon other criteria, such as a player's participation in said games during a specified period of time.

16. The method of claim 1, further comprising: Enabling player to pay a fee in exchange for the opportunity to participate in one or a plurality of said animal judging games.

17. The method of claim 1 whereby said animal judging game may be called “Keep or Cull” or some other term descriptive of the game's primary activity, comprising: (a) Enabling one or a plurality of players to view an image or other visual representation of three (3) or more similar animals, and providing an explanation of how the game is played and how points are awarded and, thus, how scores are calculated, (b) Enabling each player to select two (2) or more animals from among the said three or more animals displayed, which player determines or believes, based upon visual appraisal, are higher in quality, more useful or productive for a specific purpose, or more valuable than the other animals displayed, such that upon completion of their selection, the classification of “Keep” or “Retain” will be assigned to the said two (2) or more animals chosen as the highest quality animals, according to specific game rules, and a “Cull” or “Discard” is applied to all remaining, non-selected animals, (c) Enabling each player to communicate said assignments to game operator such that the assignments are entered and stored in centralized database, (d) Enabling each player to view a comparison of his or her assignments with the assignments made by the official judge, and also view any comments included by the official judge regarding why said assignments were made, (e) Calculating a score for each player based upon how closely the assignments of each said player match the assignments made by the official judge, whereby ten (10) points are awarded for each correct player assignment, and ten (10) points are subtracted for each incorrect assignment, and displaying or communicating resulting score to respective player, (g) Awarding prizes to one or a plurality of players based on said player scores, or upon some randomized selection means, dependent only on player participation during a certain period of time.

18. The method of claim 1 whereby said animal judging game may be called “Pick Traits” or some other term descriptive of the game's primary activity, comprising: (a) Enabling one or a plurality of players to view an image or other visual representation of one animal, (b) Providing to each said player a list of two (2) or more phenotypic or implicit genetic characteristics which have some degree of descriptive relevance to said animal, and provide an explanation of how the game is played and how points are awarded and, thus, how scores are calculated, (c) Enabling each player to select one (1) or more of the two (2) or more said listed genetic characteristics that appear to most or least closely match the animal shown, and communicate said selections such that the selections are entered and stored in a centralized database, (d) Enabling each player to view a comparison of his or her selections with the selections chosen by said official judge, as well as enabling players to read, watch or listen to comments, if any, included by the official judge regarding why said selections were made, (e) Calculating a score for each player based upon how closely said selections made by said player match with the selections chosen by the official judge, and communicating said player scores to each respective player. (f) Awarding prizes to one or a plurality of players based on said player scores, or upon some randomized selection means dependent only on their participation in said game during a certain period of time.

19. The method of claim 1 whereby said animal judging game may be called “Match Attributes” or some other term descriptive of the game's primary activity, comprising: (a) Enabling one or a plurality of players to view images or other visual representations of two (2) similar animals, and provide an explanation of how the game is played and how points are awarded and, thus, how scores are calculated, (b) Providing to each player a list of two (2) or more phenotypic or genotypic attributes which have some degree of descriptive relevance to the said two animals displayed, (c) Enabling each player to select and assign each said attribute to whichever animal, of the two animals shown, that the attribute most closely describes or fits, whereby, upon completion, each attribute have been assigned to an animal, (d) Enabling each player to communicate said attribute assignments such that said attribute assignments are entered and stored in centralized database, (e) Enabling each player to view a comparison of his or her attribute assignments with the assignments made by the official judge, as well as read, watch or listen to any comments included by the official judge regarding why said assignments were made, (f) Calculating a score for each player based upon how closely said player assignments match with the selections chosen by the official judge, with a specific number of points being awarded for each correct match, and displaying said player respective score, (g) Awarding prizes to one or a plurality of players based on said scores, or upon some randomized selection means dependent only on their participation in said game during a certain period of time.

20. The method of claim 1 whereby said animal judging game may be called “Scale Characteristics” or some other term descriptive of the game's primary activity, comprising: (a) Enabling one or a plurality of players to view an image or other visual representation of one (1) animal and provide an explanation of how the game is played and how points are awarded and, thus, how scores are calculated, (b) Providing to each said player a list of two (2) or more characteristics, each of which has some degree of descriptive relevance to said animal displayed, (c) Enabling each said player to rank, from one through five, a characteristic based on how much or how little of each said characteristic is exhibited by said displayed animal, such that upon completion of characteristic ranking, a numeric rank of one, two, three, four or five has been assigned to each specific characteristic, (d) Enabling each said player to communicate said ranking assignments such that the assignments are entered and stored in centralized database, (e) Enabling each said player to view a comparison of his or her characteristic ranking assignments with the ranking assignments made by the official judge, as well as enabling players to read, watch, or listen to any comments included by the official judge regarding why said ranking assignments were made, (f) Calculating a score for each said player based upon how closely each player's said ranking assignments match with the ranking assignments made by the official judge, whereby a specific number of points are awarded for each correct player match, and displaying said score to each respective player, (g) Awarding prizes to one or a plurality of players based on said scores, or upon some randomized selection means dependent only on their participation in said game during a specified period of time.

21. The method of claim 1 whereby said animal judging game may be called “Fix-it Shop” or some other term descriptive of the game's primary activity, comprising: (a) Enabling one or a plurality of players to view an image or other visual representation of an animal or animals, and provide an explanation of how the game is played, how points are awarded, and how scores are calculated, (b) Presenting each player with a list of at least four (4) physical or genetic characteristics associated with each animal shown that may be considered deficiencies or weaknesses, (c) Enabling each said player to select two (2) or more characteristics, per animal, that player believes are the most obvious weaknesses or deficiencies possessed by each animal(s) displayed, such that upon completion of player selections, the player has identified and selected the two (2) or more characteristics that most need to be “fixed” or improved about each animal displayed to make said animal more desirable based on implicit or explicit criteria, (d) Enabling each player to communicate said selections such that they are entered and stored in centralized database, (e) Enabling each said player to view a comparison of his or her selections with the selections made by the official judge, as well as read, watch, or listen to any comments included by the official judge regarding why said selections were made, (f) Generating a score for each said player based upon how closely each player's said characteristic selections match the selections made by the official judge, (g) Awarding prizes to one or a plurality of players based on the highest scores, or upon some randomized selection means dependent only on their participation in said game during a specified period of time.

22. The method of claim 1 whereby one or more of said animal judging games may be simplified and offered under the label of “Just For Kids” or some other term descriptive of the game's intended primary audience.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates generally to the field of knowledge and skill based games, and particularly to a method of conducting competitive livestock judging games by utilizing a plurality of communication media, including the Internet, electronic mail, printed material, and other means, including any combination of the communication media described above. In another aspect, the present invention relates to a method of conducting competitive livestock judging games, utilizing a said plurality of communication media, that can be presented to, and played by, players in multiple geographies in which players judge the images or other representations of animals according to specified criteria, and make selections or ranking designations based upon such evaluations, and are then scored or awarded points according to the accuracy or appropriateness of their selections or designations. In the preferred embodiment, the Internet is the communication medium through which said livestock judging games are played, but other means of communication, or combinations thereof, may also be utilized. The present invention uniquely incorporates the use of livestock images, instead of the physical presence of livestock, involving players in a multiplicity of livestock evaluation activities, according to predetermined rules and objectives which are similar, in many material aspects, to actual livestock shows or instructional seminars designed to teach livestock judging.

DESCRIPTION OF THE RELATED ART

[0002] Traditional livestock judging continues to be a popular activity today. Animals are transported to a common location where the livestock show is held, and judges visually compare and judge the live animals based on a variety of criteria. Recently, a few entities have utilized a combination of certain print and electronic communication means to facilitate livestock judging by participants located in remote locations. Some of these entities have also used the Internet to display photographs and biographical information about the individuals who serve as “official” judges of the animals. One known entity has used the Internet exclusively to both display animals and allow viewers to rank the animals by selecting their choice from a menu of choices.

[0003] However, no entity is known to have progressed beyond this point of sophistication. Thus, the present invention describes the first known livestock judging games and livestock judging website that combines the display of livestock images with an interactive database that allows the input and archiving of each player's livestock placements (rankings), and calculates each player's score for each game in which player participates, as well as calculating and storing the cumulative score that each player maintains over some time period, and allowing each player to check his or her scores online and view the award(s), if any, relating to a specific game and dated event. In combination with the novel features described immediately above, the present invention describes the first known livestock judging games or website that archives official judge placements and comments relative to each game and specific event, and allows players to view current and archived placements and comments made by official judges. Additionally, the present invention includes several novel livestock judging games that are unlike any previous known livestock judging activities or games. None of the related art described below is known to be patented or have a patent pending.

[0004] In 1997, the Gelbvieh World, a cattle breed publication produced by the American Gelbvieh Association, published photographs of a class of four cattle and invited readers to “place” the cattle first through fourth, based on apparent superiority of each relative to the other three animals. The ranking made by an official judge, as well as the official judge's comments, were printed elsewhere in the same publication. Readers who went through the exercise of placing the cattle in the group were not provided with any opportunity to win any prizes, recognition or awards, nor the opportunity to convey their placement choices to the magazine publisher.

[0005] Hoard's Dairyman, a dairy industry magazine, advertises that it has been conducting dairy animal judging contests through its magazine for many years. The magazine may use its associated website, www.hoards.com, to promote judging contests that are being conducted via the magazine, however, the company does not utilize the Internet to conduct its judging contests.

[0006] Beef Magazine published a “Beef Quality Challenge” in the October editions of the magazine in both 2000 and 2001 that displayed photographs of beef cattle and provided the address of a website that, if accessed, also showed photographs of the same animals, as well as contest rules. Although multiple animals were shown both years, the contest was not patterned after a conventional livestock judging contest. Rather, it required participants to select a small number of cattle (from a larger group of cattle) that would be expected to perform the best, based on certain criteria. Magazine and website viewers wishing to participate in the judging contest could communicate their livestock ranking assignment entries by utilizing regular mail, electronic mail, and facsimile. The magazine also reported that entries could be made via a corresponding web page at www.beef-mag.com, implying that participants could, therefore, enter their selections through the website. In reality, the website directed people interested in participating to send their entries via electronic mail to the project coordinator by actuating the website's automated link to an electronic mail address of the project coordinator. Thus, participant animal selection entries could not be captured, stored or analyzed through any electronic database directly connected with the website.

[0007] The University of Vermont, in Burlington, Vt., operates an Internet web page at www.uvm.edu/˜jagilmor/judging/judging.html that displays photographic images of groups of dairy cows, four animals per group, and shows multiple views of each cow. The web page allows viewers to compare the images of any two cows, and rank, or “place” the animals in the group from the first through fourth. The four-animal class represents the standard class size in the field of livestock judging. This site represents a basic example of a conventional class of dairy cows as they would normally be judged live. The site is operated for educational purposes and does not provide for competitive judging by players. Despite allowing players to select their placements of the class from a menu displaying all possible combinations of placement choices, once a player has made a selection, no database was operable to capture that data and calculate a score or archive player placements.

[0008] An Internet web page is operated by Utah State University Extension at http://utahreach.usu.edu/boxelder/ext/4-h/cyberjdg/cyberpg.htm that displays images of different classes of animals among different species, including cattle, hogs, and lambs, as well as different types of meats. This site allows users to view classes of animals and their official placements. Site users may download a “livestock judging scorecard” program to their personal computer (pc). The site indicates this program “provides an easy way to calculate livestock judging scores.” The program, when executed, allows a user to enter placements for a class, enter official placements, and enter the basis of grading or “cuts,” which are the numeric score reductions for incorrectly placing one animal over another. Once this information is entered, the program, which is executed by the user's pc, calculates the theoretical score based on the inputted data. The site has an link entitled “View your score and placings,” which is not operable. User's may enter their placements in the body of an e-mail and send it to the game operator. The game operator indicates scores are “no longer” provided back to the user. Thus, this web page also does not provide for interactive player placement entry, automated score calculation or archiving of player placements.

[0009] Lake Land Junior College, Mattoon, Ill., advertises that it displayed images of classes of livestock for judging purposes during December, 1997, on an Internet web site entitled “Virtual Livestock Judging Contest,” located at www.swine.net/vljc1.htm. The web page did not provide any competitive games, but indicates that it would allow players to place animals in a class by selecting a placement choice from a menu of possible placement combinations. This feature was not operable during the numerous times the website was visited. The web page provides biographical information about the official judges. The web page advertises, but does not actually enable, player placements to be “entered.” No database was evident to capture or store player livestock placements or calculate scores.

[0010] Another Internet website with the web address of www.mycattle.com allows a player to play interactive games of poker and blackjack against the “house” with virtual “cowchips” as poker chips. The website does not award any prizes to winners. It does keep a temporary record of player and dealer scores as long as the game continues, but does not archive scores after a game round has ended. The site does not offer any livestock judging activities.

[0011] An Internet website, indicating located at the address www.showdairygoats.com enables goat judging. Viewer placement of the offered classes is accomplished by clicking on a picture of a goat, which directs the viewer into an electronic mail addressed to the game operator. The viewer can type his or her personal placement choices in the body of the electronic mail letter. A judge's placement of the animals is displayed along with reasons the judge used to place the goats within the class. Again, the site does not provide for any entry or storage of player selections via an interactive database, nor does it provide player scoring calculations. Additionally, the site does not award any prizes to viewers who place animals.

[0012] An Internet website located at the address www.dogshow.com enables virtual dog showing and judging. Viewers of the site are not enabled to participate in judging activities. Only official judges, designated by the game operator, judge the animals. Contestants send physical or digital photographs of their dogs to the game operator along with an entry fee, and the game operator may include the dog(s) in a given show. Designated judges view pictures of the dogs in a class and then place the class. Since viewers are not given the opportunity to place animals, no viewer scores are recorded. Prizes may be awarded to the owner(s) of a winning dog or dogs in a class.

[0013] No known livestock judging game or contest has fully enabled livestock judging via the Internet alone. The most advanced of the other animal judging or showing web sites have not progressed beyond displaying classes of animals and providing some means of ranking the animals, either on the website or via electronic mail or other means. No prior livestock judging game has accepted player registration information and player animal class placements into an interactive database that is integrally part of the web site. Moreover, no previous livestock judging game has had an integral database that automatically calculates player scores and archives each player's animal placements and scores. The present invention allows players to view their scores in conjunction with each game played, as well as longer terms charts displaying a player's scores and related statistics over time. The present invention is also the first known livestock judging website that allows players to both read and hear the official judge's animal placement reasons by allowing players to access a pre-recorded audio clip of the judge's comments. There are also no other competitive livestock judging games in existence which provide unique individual livestock judging games such as those described in the claims section of this invention under the headings of “Keep or Cull,” “Pick Traits,” “Match Attributes,” “Scale Characteristics,” and “Fix It Shop.”

[0014] An additional novel component of the invention is the automated electronic score calculation for traditional classes of four animals, as well as other group sizes. When a player has completed evaluating a class and places the animals within the group, this invention enables any possible combination of player numeric placements to be electronically compared with the official judge's placement of the animals, along with the official basis for grading or cuts (score reductions for incorrectly placed animals within the group) designated by the judge, and automatically calculates a player's resulting score. The automated electronic score calculation is accomplished by the game server, rather than by an executable program residing on the player's pc.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0015] The present invention provides for a method of conducting livestock judging games, which utilize visual images or representations of animals, in the form of electronic or printed images, and can be presented to or accessed by one or multiple players by utilizing a plurality of communication media including the Internet, electronic mail, telephone system, and printed material. Players view visual images or representations of one or more animals, as well as any ancillary information that may be provided about said animal or animals, to evaluate and rank, select or categorize (judge) each animal based on specified criteria. Animal attributes that players may consider in their evaluation of one or more animals may include the physical characteristics of each animal, as well as performance or expected performance, genetic background, usefulness for a certain purpose, and other information associated with each animal. This invention provides a means for one or more official judges, selected by the game operator, to view and judge the animal(s) being displayed and provide comments justifying their placement or selection decisions. The present invention also provides a means for judge placements and comments to be stored in an integral centralized database.

[0016] The present invention provides for a method of enabling players to enter their animal placements, ranking assignments, selections or categorizations, as well as player comments justifying why player so ranked the animals, into an integrated centralized database. The present invention provides a means for each player to view game rules associated with each type of livestock judging game, and also provides a means for a score to be generated for each player in conjunction with each game in which player participates, with each score being based upon specific scoring rules. Other means of determining player scores may also be utilized. The present invention also provides for a method for each participating player to view his or her respective score in each game in which the player has participated, and read or listen to the official judge's animal placements and comments concerning a particular game and class of animals. This invention also allows each player to view statistics relating to his or her scoring performance over varying time periods, and enables players to compare their scores with those of other players. The present invention also provides for awards, prizes or scholarships to be awarded to players based on player scores or other specified criteria.

[0017] The five (5) primary elements of the invention are:

[0018] (1) Multiple means for players to view, evaluate and rank such animal images for various apparent or expected phenotypic, genetic or carcass characteristics, and to designate such observed, expected or inferred characteristics as being positive, neutral, or negative compared to that which is generally accepted as ideal or a standard of desirability within the livestock industry, and in some cases, to rank or place groups of similar livestock in a player-selected order from best to worst. Further, a means is provided for players to enter comments about their selections or ranking designations, the livestock they evaluated, their experience or feelings during the evaluation process and about the judges and official rankings, selections and designations, into an interactive database.

[0019] (2) Computerized means of archiving player placements, rankings designations, selections and comments correspondent to the multiplicity of livestock evaluation activities in which they participate.

[0020] (3) Player scoring systems corresponding to the multiplicity of livestock judging and evaluation activities offered, using multiple means of data processing and compilations to determine player scores, or other relative measures of successful designations, when compared to official characteristic or animal designations provided by an official livestock judge, average or other aggregation of player designations, or other selected means to identify a certain set of designations which are considered right or correct.

[0021] (4) Multiple means of communicating game results to players, and a means for players to track their performance or scores over a period of time.

[0022] (5) Multiple means of offering prizes, such as cash, merchandise and scholarships, to winning players, based upon their scores, or upon some randomized selection means dependent on other criteria, such as their participation during a certain period of time.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0023] Livestock judging is a well-known activity, which has been commonplace in the United States and around the world for centuries. It remains popular today for major livestock species, such as beef cattle, dairy cattle, horses, swine, and sheep. Traditional Livestock judging events, referred to as “shows,” involve the physical assembly of similar classes of live animals (which are grouped by specie, and may also be further grouped by sex, breed, purpose, age, and other factors) from multiple owners at a common location for viewing and evaluation by one or more judges. In some instances, handlers parade individual animals in an arena, or similar setting, while the designated judge(s) evaluates the animals based on one or more characteristics, such as physical features, performance, genetic attributes, and other factors. In other instances, grouped animals stand stationary when the designated judge evaluates them. The judge “places” (i.e. judges or ranks) the group of animals from best animal to worst animal, according to generally accepted judging standards, specific to each animal specie. The judge(s) also explains the rankings he/she made during the evaluation process by orally expressing the good and bad characteristics he/she observed about the animals in the class or group. Comments of the judge in this regard are often referred to as “reasons.”

[0024] Prizes are typically awarded to the owners and/or presenters of top-placing animals. Such awards may include cash, merchandise, promotional opportunities, trophies, ribbons, or some form of public recognition for their accomplishment in raising or presenting one or more show-winning animals.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0025] FIG. 1 is a symbolic schematic diagram depicting the infrastructure within which the preferred embodiment of the present invention is practiced, including its main components, and describing the general method by which the livestock judging games may be accessed, viewed, played and otherwise utilized and managed.

[0026] FIG. 2 is a flow diagram that illustrates the preferred embodiment of the process by which a player may access and play a given livestock judging game and review other game-associated information.

[0027] FIG. 3 is a flow diagram describing the features of a “Pick Traits” game and illustrating the process by which said game may be played by a player.

[0028] FIG. 4 is a flow diagram describing the features of a “Match Attributes” game and illustrating the process by which said game may be played by a player.

[0029] FIGS. 5 is a flow diagram describing the features of a “Scale Characteristics” game and illustrating the process by which said game may be played by a player.

[0030] FIG. 6 is a flow diagram describing the features of a “Fix-It Shop” game and illustrating the process by which said game may be played by a player.

[0031] FIG. 7 is a flow diagram describing the features of a “Keep or Cull” game and illustrating the process by which said game may be played by a player.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0032] In a preferred embodiment, the said games are played via the Internet using World Wide Web technology, although any communication medium or combination of communication media could be used, including conventional Local Area Networks (LANs), Wide Area Networks (WANs), electronic Bulletin Board Systems (BBSs), telephone system, facsimile, United States Postal Service, and print media.

[0033] FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram depicting the overall operational structure of the present invention where player 10 utilizes a communication interface 20 to access competitive livestock judging game 30 operated by game operator 40. A player may be presented with options concerning different games available for play 50, such as “Keep or Cull” 51, “Pick Traits” 52, “Match Attributes” 53, “Scale Characteristics” 54, “Fix-it Shop” 55, and various games for youth (kids) 56. A player may also be presented with options relating to information contained in database 60, including the opportunity to change player contact information 61, and view data associated with player's past judging activities, including previous animal rankings or designations 62. In a preferred embodiment, a player may view official judge placings regarding any particular animal or animals associated with past or current livestock judging games that are being or have been conducted by the game operators 63. In one embodiment, a player may also view his or her past scores 64 and review details associated with past livestock judging games 65. In some embodiments, a player may view images of livestock 66 that are currently on display as part of an active judging game. A player may also view images of livestock that were in previous livestock judging game classes. Present and past game rules may be accessed and reviewed by the player 67 in order to better understand how individual games are played. A player may also read biographical information about official judges 68 that are currently or have previously provided official livestock placings in conjunction with one or more games. In another embodiment, the game operator may select one or more official game judge from among a group of players. In another suitable approach, the game operator may use as the “official judge” those judgment placements that represent those placements or categorizations that are statistically most common among players. Some embodiments may allow the player to access information about prizes and prize winners of past or present games 69. In another suitable approach, the player may only be able to review what prizes were awarded in association with a particular game on a specific date. In some embodiments, the type of prize awarded to players under the age of eighteen (18) may be in the form of a scholarship, gift certificate, or some form of recognition.

[0034] FIG. 2 is a general flowchart depicting an embodiment of the manner in which a player may access and play one or more livestock judging games. In some embodiments, a player may utilize a communication interface, such as the Internet, to establish a communication link with the livestock judging game operator 70. A player may provide a unique pre-assigned username and password that identifies the player to the game operator 70. In a preferred embodiment, a player uses a mouse, trackball, keyboard, or other appropriate input as a means of communicating information and selecting desired game choices. The player may access and review information pertaining to current, past or upcoming livestock judging games or other activities 71, such as past scores, judges and official animal placements, prizes awarded, and so on. Some embodiments may allow a player to view images of livestock classes associated with current or past real-world judging contests with live animals, such as those related to national, regional, or state livestock showing and judging competitions. In the preferred embodiment, players may be presented with the opportunity to read game rules, query score information, read game-related news and events, and view current and past official animal placings and comments 71. A player may be enabled to read and post messages or comments pertaining to livestock judging activities on an electronic message board. A player may also check prize and award information, and select a game in which to participate, as well as review other information and options 71. A player may be presented with visual images of one or more animals associated with a specific game selected 72, as well as the opportunity to view any information about the displayed animals which may be provided, and specific game rules and instructions explaining the method in which player may enter animal rankings, designations and/or selections. After a player places a class of animals or makes other animal rankings or designations through an interactive medium, the player's choices may be archived in a central database and a player's score may be calculated 73. In one embodiment, a player's livestock rankings, selections or designations may be sent from the player's personal computer to a server connected to the central game database. This may be done in any manner known in the art. A player may also download a game program written in the form of the “Java”, “Java script” or another language to his or her PC prior to playing any of the available livestock judging games. This program may operate on the player's computer. When the game player has completed his or her animal judging selections, the program allows transmission of all selections at once to the server maintained by the game operator, where the selections are recorded in the game database. In another suitable approach, a player may participate in one or more of the individual games by viewing printed images of the animals in media formats such as magazines and newsletters, and providing his or her animal ranking assignments to the game operators by way of the Internet, electronic mail, U.S.P.S. mail, or other methods of information conveyance. In some embodiments, a player may be offered the opportunity to view his or her score, and see how his or her score compares with other players scores in the same group. A player may also be able to view the official placement of the class or official designations or selections made by the official judge, as well as access and view and/or listen to any reasons the official judge may have included regarding why his or her placements, designations or selections were made 74. A player may choose to exit the current game during or after judging activities are completed and return to and utilize other options described in area 71. In some embodiments, a player may exit the game completely. Any combination of the approaches described above may also be used, and any other suitable approach may also be used.

[0035] FIG. 3. is a flowchart depicting one embodiment of a game that may be called “Pick Traits” or some other name that describes the primary activity of the game. A player may be presented with the visual image or representation of one (1) animal 80, as well as an explanation of how the game is played, how points are awarded, how scores are calculated, and how prizes, if any, may be awarded to players 80. In one embodiment, a player may be presented with a list of six (6) attributes which have some degree of descriptive relevance to the animal shown 81. In some embodiments, the number of attributes that are presented to a player may be more or less than six. A player may be enabled to select three (3) descriptions or attributes, from the list of six, that the player feels most accurately match or describe the animal shown 81. The player may communicate his or her selections such that they are received by the game operator and entered into the central database 82. In some embodiments, a player's selections may be compared against the official judge's selections 83. The player's score may be calculated based on how closely player selections match the official judge's selections, and the player's selections and score may be archived in the central database 83. A player may be presented with a visual comparison of his or her selections versus the official judge's selections 84. A player may also view his score in some embodiments. In some embodiments, a player may be informed concerning when the present game will conclude and when player can check back to determine if player has won a prize or scholarship 85. Any combination of the approaches described above may also be used, and any other suitable approach may also be used.

[0036] FIG. 4 is a flowchart depicting the preferred embodiment of a game that may be called “Match Attributes” or another term descriptive of the game's unique characteristics. A player may be presented with visual images or representations of two (2) animals 90. In some embodiments, more than two animals may be displayed 90. A player may be allowed to view game rules and explanations concerning how the game is played, how points are awarded, how scores are calculated, and how prizes, if any, may be awarded to players 90. A player may be presented in some embodiments with an even-numbered list of four (4) to twelve (12) attributes which have some degree of descriptive relevance to the animals shown 91. A player may be enabled to select each individual attribute and assign the attribute to whichever one of the two animals shown that the attribute most accurately describes or fits 92, whereby, upon completion, an equal number of attributes are assigned to each animal. In some embodiments, a player's selections may be entered into a central database and compared against the official judge's selections. A player's score may be calculated based on how closely the player's selections match the official judge's selections 93. Player selections and score may be archived. A player may be presented with a visual comparison of his or her selections versus the official judge's selections and player's score 94. In some embodiments, a player may be able to view how his or her placements and score compare with those of other groups of players. A player may be informed of when the present game will conclude and when the player can check back to determine if the player has won a prize or scholarship, if applicable 95. Any combination of the approaches described above may also be used, and any other suitable approach may also be used.

[0037] FIG. 5 is a flowchart depicting one embodiment of a game that may be called “Scale Characteristics” or some other term that describes the primary activity of the game. In one embodiment, a player may be presented with a visual image or representation of one (1) animal 100. The player may be provided with an explanation of how the game is played, how points are awarded, how scores are calculated, and how prizes, if any, are awarded to players 100. A player may be informed of when the present game will conclude and when player can check back to determine if he or she has won a prize or scholarship, if applicable 100. A player may be presented with a list of characteristics which have some degree of descriptive relevance to the animal shown 101. A player may be enabled to rank, from one through five, each characteristic based on how much or how little of that characteristic is exhibited by the displayed animal, such that when the player has finished ranking the characteristics, a numeric rank has been assigned to each characteristic 102. Player ranking selections may be entered into a central database and compared against the official judge's selections 103. A player's score may be calculated based on how closely the player's ranking selections match official judge selections 104. The player's selections and scores may be archived. A player may be presented with a visual comparison of his or her selections versus the official judge's selections, and player's score may be accessed and displayed 104. In some embodiments, a player may be informed of when the present game will conclude and when the player can check back to determine if he or she has won a prize or scholarship, if applicable 105. Any combination of the approaches described above may also be used, and any other suitable approach may also be used.

[0038] FIG. 6 is a flowchart depicting the preferred embodiment of a game that may be called “Fix It Shop Game” or some other term that describes the primary activity of the game. A player may be presented with visual images or representations of one or more animals 110. The player may be presented with an explanation of how the game is played, how points are awarded, how scores are calculated, and how prizes, if any, may be awarded to winners 110. In one embodiment, a player may be presented with a list of at least four (4) physical or genetic characteristics associated with each animal shown that may be considered deficiencies or weaknesses 111. In another suitable approach, the number of physical or genetic characteristics listed may be less than four. In the present embodiment where four (4) or more characteristics are listed, each player will be enabled to select two (2) or more characteristics, per animal, that the player believes are the most obvious weaknesses or deficiencies possessed by each animal(s) shown, such that upon completion of player selections, the player has identified and selected the two (2) or more characteristics that he or she most need to be “fixed” or improved about each animal shown 112. In some embodiments, a player's selections may be entered into a central database and compared against the official judge's selections 113. A player's score is calculated based on how closely the player's selections match the official judge's selections 113. The player's selections and score may be archived 113. A player may be allowed to view a visual comparison of how his or her selections compare with the official judge's selections 114. In another embodiment, a player may be able to view how his or her selections compare with other players' selections. A player may be informed of when the present game will conclude and when the player can check back to determine if the player has won a prize or scholarship, if applicable 115. Any combination of the approaches described above may also be used, and any other suitable approach may also be used.

[0039] FIG. 7 is a flowchart depicting one embodiment of a game that may be called “Keep or Cull Game” or some other term that describes the primary activity of the game. In the preferred embodiment, a player may be presented with visual images or representations of three or more animals 120. The player may be provided with an explanation of how the game is played, how points are awarded, how scores are calculated, and how prizes, if any, may be awarded to players 120. A player may be enabled to select two (2) animals from the three or more animals displayed, that the player determines or believes are the two most superior animals of the group based on judging criteria that have been provided 121. The player may communicate his or her selections such that they are received by the game operator and entered into a central database 121. In another suitable approach, the player may select more than two animals from the group of animals displayed, which may number more than three. The number of animals selected will always be less than the total number of animals displayed. Player selections may be compared against official judge selections 122. A player's score may be calculated based on how accurately player selections match official judge selections, or by some other means. A player's selections and scores may be archived, along with any additional comments provided by the player 122. A player may be informed of when the present game will conclude and when the player can check back to view the official judge's selections and comments, and player score(s) 123. The player may be presented with a visual comparison of his or her selections versus the official judge's selections, as well as player's resulting score, and whether the player has won a prize or scholarship, if applicable 124. Any combination of the approaches described above may also be used, and any other suitable approach may also be used.

[0040] While the present invention has been illustrated and described with reference to specific embodiments, further modifications and alterations will occur to those skilled in the art within the spirit and scope of this invention.