Title:
Prize containing game piece, related combinations and methods
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An improvement for all games which incorporate the capturing of game (or playing) pieces as part of game play. A game piece set where each piece is hollow and has an access or opening to allow surprises to be inserted prior to play and removed during play. Surprises may include confections, toys, printed materials, currency, and other items designed or selected to fit inside game piece. Surprises are held inside game piece by an integrated (or attached) seal or detachable seal (such as a removable plug or cap). Game can be played on a standard game board. The factory, players, and/or caregivers fill the game pieces with surprises prior to start of game. The surprise remains concealed until game piece is captured during play; the seal is then opened by player, and the surprise is removed and enjoyed. Overall, the tangible surprise element serves as an immediate, fin, and exciting improvement to the game.



Inventors:
Alvarez, Michel J. (Seattle, WA, US)
Application Number:
11/104854
Publication Date:
10/20/2005
Filing Date:
04/12/2005
Assignee:
WonderChess, LLC
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F3/00; A63F3/02; A63F9/00; A63F11/00; (IPC1-7): A63F3/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MENDIRATTA, VISHU K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Green, Howard, & Mughal, LLP (Lake Oswego, OR, US)
Claims:
1. A game piece, comprising: A base having a first part and a second part which can be fitted together to form an internal chamber for securing a prize, where the prize is capable of removal by a user; and a design portion coupled with the base.

2. The game piece of claim 1, where the design portion is directed upward from the base.

3. The game piece of claim 1, where the game piece is chosen from a group consisting of: a chess piece; a checker piece; a shogi piece; a qiang xi piece; a tiddly-winks piece; a memory game piece; a backgammon piece; and a tic-tac-toe piece.

4. The game piece of claim 2, where the design portion defines the identity of the game piece.

5. The game piece of claim 1, where the first part is a hollow body having a single access region.

6. The game piece of claim 5, where the second part is chosen from a group consisting of: a removable cap; and a removable plug.

7. The game piece of claim 6, where the removable cap or removable plug can be fitted together with the first part, thereby covering the access region.

8. The game piece of claim 7, where the first part and the removable cap or removable plug are fitted together by press-fitting, screwing, threading, snap-on action, adhesion, hook and loop means, magnetism, bolting, or sliding.

9. The game piece of claim 1, wherein the first part and second part of the base have complementary hollow bodies.

10. The game piece of claim 1, further comprising a prize secured in the internal chamber.

11. The game piece of claim 1, where a plurality of game pieces are manufactured in one package, the plurality of game pieces capable of being individually removed from the package to form individual game pieces.

12. The game piece of claim 10, wherein the prize is capable of being removed from the internal chamber.

13. The game piece of claim 12, wherein after removal of the prize from the internal chamber, a new prize is secured in the internal chamber.

14. The game piece of claim 1, wherein shrink-wrap extends around the design portion of the game piece.

15. The game piece of claim 1, wherein the first part and the second part form a one-piece base, and a prize is capable of being inserted into the internal chamber by squeezing or otherwise manipulating the one-piece base.

16. A game package, comprising: (a) A container; (b) a plurality of game pieces, each game piece comprising a base having a first part and a second part which can be fitted together to form an internal chamber for securing a prize, where the prize is capable of removal by a user, and a design portion coupled with the base and extending upward; and (c) a set of instructions for instructing the player to fill or remove a game piece with a prize.

17. The game package of claim 16, further comprising a plurality of prizes.

18. The game package of claim 16, further comprising a game playing surface.

19. The game package of claim 16 wherein the plurality of game pieces are manufactured in one package, the plurality of bases capable of being individually removed from the package to form individual game pieces.

20. A method of packaging a game piece for sale and use in a game, comprising: (a) providing a container; (b) providing a plurality of game pieces, each game piece comprising a base having a first part and a second part which can be fitted together to form an internal chamber for securing a prize, where the prize is capable of removal by a user, and a design portion coupled with the base and extending upward; and (c) providing a set of instructions for instructing the player to fill or remove a game piece with a prize.

21. The method of claim 20, further comprising providing a plurality of prizes.

22. The method of claim 20, further comprising providing a game playing surface.

23. Method of motivating children to learn games of skill, using at least one game piece as described in claim 1.

24. Method of motivating children to learn games of skill, using a game package as described in claim 15.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a utility patent application based on U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/563,296, filed Apr. 19, 2004, entitled Prize Containing Game Piece, Related Combinations and Methods, which is incorporated herein by this reference and made a part of this application.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates generally to games of skill and more specifically to game pieces for securing prizes that may be removed by a user, techniques and strategies for playing games of skill using such game pieces, combinations of such game pieces and game packages containing the same, and related methods.

2. Background Information

There is growing pressure for our children to excel in school and later in work. Caregivers are very concerned over the state of education. They are also worried about their children's appetite for expensive, and increasingly violent, video games, and/or for watching excessive television.

Motivating children to move away from television and video games, and towards learning and excelling, is often a difficult process. It is also a motivational process quite different from one used when motivating adults. While adults look to motivation from financial or emotional tools, children look to instant gratification as a primary motivational mechanism. Thus, although caregivers are using ‘smart’ toys and games of skill at unprecedented levels, motivating children to play these classic, affordable, familiar, and highly beneficial games of skill, including but not limited to such games as chess, tic-tac-toe, checkers, shogi, qiang xi, backgammon, memory games and tiddly-winks (hereinafter referred to as “games”), is easier said than done.

Chess, for example, is one of the world's most popular board games, and it has existed for centuries. It is a proven provider of intellectual development benefits which are valued by, not only adult players, but also children and their caregivers. Numerous studies have concluded that children who play chess excel academically and in the development of their maturity. They develop critical thinking; logic, reasoning, and problem solving abilities; memory, concentration and visualization skills; confidence; patience; determination; poise; self-expression; and good sportsmanship. Chess also improves their self-esteem.

However, children often view chess as complex, slow, boring, and “nerdy.” Chess is also a game that is complicated to teach due to the intricate rules and strategies associated with the game. Thus, it is difficult to motivate children to play and to learn to play chess. Due to the numerous benefits of games of skill such as chess, there is a need for products and methods whereby games are more exciting, compelling and attractive to fill this underserved market and improve society as a whole.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to an improved game piece and combinations thereof, as well as techniques and strategies for playing games of skill using such game pieces, and combinations of game packages containing such improved game pieces, and related methods.

It is an object of this invention to provide a game piece having a base with a first part and a second part which can be fitted together to form an internal chamber for securing a prize. The prize is capable of being removed by a user when desired.

The game piece also includes a design portion coupled with the base. Where the game piece is a component of a game having multiple different pieces with non-uniform identity, the design portion may define the identity of the game piece, thereby distinguishing the game piece from other pieces.

In one embodiment the game piece is designed to be used in a specific game. For example, if the game is chess, the design portion of such a game piece would define the identity of each given chess piece, for example, as a pawn, rook, bishop, knight, queen, or king. Thus the present invention also relates to combinations of game pieces, such as a combination of game pieces that comprises a complete chess set.

In another embodiment the game piece is uniformly designed and the identity of each game piece is defined by design elements such as imprinting, coloring, shrink-wrapping or otherwise wrapping the game piece with identifying indicia. In a further embodiment a plurality of game pieces are manufactured and contained in one package. The packaging is such that each game piece is capable of being individually separated from the packaging to form an individual game piece.

In each embodiment of the invention, the game pieces include an internal chamber for securing a prize. A prize can be secured or hidden in the game piece by placing the prize in the internal chamber, and the prize can be removed by a user at a selected time. One selected time may be upon capture of a game piece during game play. In this regard, the game pieces of the invention allow the combination of a conventional game with a reward mechanism, thereby making the game more fun, surprising and rewarding.

It is another object of this invention to provide packaging which contains a game utilizing the game pieces currently described. Such a game package includes a container, a plurality of game pieces, each game piece including a base having a first part and a second part which can be fitted together to form an internal chamber for securing a prize, where the prize is capable of removal by a user, and a design portion coupled with the base and extending upward. The game package may further include a set of instructions for directing a user in operating a game piece, for example, instructing the user to add or remove a prize to a game piece. The game package may further include a plurality of prizes. The prizes in the plurality of prizes of a game package can each be individually secured in separate game pieces, or the prizes can be separate from the game pieces, such in a separate container. The game package may further include an incentive chart or graph which allows a user to display prizes and track the progress of game previously played by a user. In one embodiment, the game is a smaller version and is portable.

Therefore, in one aspect, the present invention increases the interest of children in learning and playing highly beneficial “intellectual development” games of skill.

It is another aspect the current invention provides a novel, attractive, game package which includes the “prize-inside” or “surprise-inside” additional enjoyment and benefit value for the players.

It is another object of this invention to provide a package for treats and collectibles which contains a game utilizing the treats and collectables as prizes contained with the game pieces and which may be consumed by the user after using them to complete a selected portion of a game.

Another aspect of the invention provides an easy to operate filling and removing (or dispensing) mechanism for prizes, wherein the prizes are secured in an internal chamber of a game piece, such as a chess piece.

Another aspect of this invention is to not change any of the standard rules of a game. It is meant only to enhance the game by the additional steps of incorporating the novel playing pieces and prizes. However, in some embodiments a piece may contain a prize that includes an instruction for an additional step, such as to add a piece back to the playing board or directing a player to solve a puzzle or riddle. A special teaching method and exercise instruction booklet, or instructions, which incorporates this invention can also be part of the game package.

Another aspect of the current invention is to offer a wide range of ancillary “Game Piece Surprise Refills” packages to serve a wide range of customer preferences. The prize refills are designed to fit inside the game pieces.

Another aspect of this invention is to offer a special series of prizes which include special round collector's coins which have one side printed with a game piece symbol. For example, for chess, the idea would be to collect all thirty-two coins (each representing one game piece ‘character’)—front side is a illustrated chess character, backside has a chess symbol underneath a sticker/stamp which is removed for enjoyment or placed in a collector's sticker book. Coins can be collected and/or played with on a standard chessboard. This aspect would be light and great for traveling, playing at cafe's, etc.

Another aspect is to offer surprise secret codes to entice players to go online and interact with puzzles, games, and sweepstakes/contests for prizes while collecting data on their needs and preferences.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates exemplary chess game pieces in accordance with the present invention, with internal chambers exposed.

FIG. 2 illustrates how a first part and second part of the game piece are fitted together to form an exemplary game piece of the present invention.

FIG. 3 illustrates the exemplary game piece of the present invention shown in FIG. 2, with the internal chamber exposed.

FIGS. 4a and 4b illustrate an exemplary game piece according an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 5 shows an exemplary embodiment of a plurality of game pieces of the invention.

FIGS. 6a-g illustrate various exemplary game pieces, shown as checker pieces, according to an embodiment of the invention, with FIG. 6a illustrating the game piece with internal chamber exposed; FIG. 6b illustrating two game pieces in a “queening position, which is typically defined as the first game piece being positioned directly on top of the second game piece; FIG. 6c illustrating the two game pieces shown in FIG. 6b with internal chambers exposed; FIG. 6d illustrating the exterior of an exemplary game piece; FIG. 6e illustrating a plug of the exemplary game piece; FIG. 6f illustrating the game piece with internal chamber exposed; and FIG. 6g illustrating the exterior of the game piece.

FIG. 7 illustrates various exemplary prizes according to the invention.

FIG. 8 shows an exemplary game package in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 9 shows an exemplary prize according to the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is based on making new and existing games of skill more fun, interactive, and rewarding by incorporating game pieces which hold prizes. It is obvious that the present invention may be used in connection with games of skill such as chess, checkers, backgammon, shogi and qiang xi, though it may be well employed in connection with other games, such as memory games, tiddly-winks, etc. (hereinafter referred collectively to as “game” or “games.”) For the sake of simplicity, the present invention will hereinafter be described with respect to the games of chess or checkers. However, it is to be understood that the invention is applicable to any game, whether currently or hereinafter existing.

The present invention does not have to change any of the standard rules of a game. It is meant only to enhance a game by the additional steps of incorporating the novel playing pieces and prizes 20 described in detail herein. However, in some embodiments, a game piece 10 may contain a prize 20 that includes instructions for additional steps to a game, such as to add a piece back to the playing board or directing a player to solve a puzzle or riddle. In some embodiments, the game piece 10 may contain a prize 20 that may be used separate from the game being played, such as a trading card or token.

The prizes 20 used in connection with the game pieces 10 of the present invention should not be limited, and may include such prizes 20 as edible treats (including, but not limited to, confections, dried fruit, nuts, and the like); non-edible treats and collectibles (exemplary collectibles are shown in FIG. 7 and include, but are not limited to, printed materials such as illustrated stickers, text messages, puzzles, tokens, riddles, fortunes, coins, toys, toy components, currency, etc.) Additionally, a prize 20 may include an instruction for an additional step, such as to add a piece back to the playing board or direct a player to solve a puzzle or riddle. Thus, the prizes 20 can include anything that a user would desire, enjoy and/or motivate a user to play a game, and would thereby make capturing and opening a game piece 10 even more desirable to the user then capturing a traditional game piece lacking a prize 20. While the prize-holding game pieces 10 adapt well to games where the capturing of the opponent's pieces occurs, the use of the present invention should not be limited. By coupling a prize 20 with game piece capture in playing the game, desirability on the part of the user to learn and excel at the game is increased. The more complex the game is, the greater the need for the invention.

The invention includes a game piece 10 capable of securing a prize 20. As shown in the exemplary embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 1-4 and 6, the game piece 10 preferably includes a base 12 with a first part 14 and a second part 16 which can be fitted together to form an internal chamber 22 for securing a prize 20. The game pieces 10 may be made of any suitable material such as wood, ivory, plastic, etc. The prize 20 is capable of being removed by a user when desired.

The game piece 10 of the first embodiment also includes a design portion 18 coupled with the base 12. The design portion 18 may extend upward from the base 12 or may be an integrated as part of the base 12 itself. The design portion 18 of the game piece 10 may vary depending on the game. For example, where the game piece 10 is a component of a game having multiple different pieces with non-uniform identity, such as chess, the design portion 18 may define the identity of the game piece 10, thereby distinguishing the game piece 10 from other pieces 10. FIG. 1 shows games pieces 10 in accordance with the present invention, wherein the design portion 18 identifies both pieces as rooks used in connection with the game of chess. Alternatively, where the game piece 10 is a component of a game having multiple game pieces 10 with uniform identity, such as in the game of checkers, the design portion 18 may not be distinguishable or, instead, may be distinguishable through the use of colors or other indicia. FIGS. 6a-6g illustrate various game pieces 10 wherein the game pieces 10 are checker pieces and the design portion has a uniform identity.

Where the design portion 18 of the game piece 10 is uniform, the identity of the game piece 10 may be defined by shrink-wrapping or otherwise extending around the design portion 18 of the game piece 10. In this optional embodiment, the design extending around the design portion 18 may be generic designs or other arbitrary forms selected for their aesthetic or artistic values, and incorporating various colors or designs such as hearts, flowers, animals, stars, etc. The design extending around the design portion 18 may also indicate the piece it represents. For example, in chess, the letter K could indicate a king, N a knight, Q a queen, etc. Further, the design extending around the design portion 18 may also include specific characters such as DISNEY® characters, HANNA-BARBERA® characters, or SESAME STREET® characters for example.

In a second embodiment of the game piece 10, and as shown in FIG. 5, a plurality of game pieces 10 are manufactured as one package. The packaging should be such that each game piece 10 is capable of being individually separated from the packaging to form an individual game piece 10. The game pieces 10 shown in FIG. 5 may be used in connection with any game, but are preferably used in connection with a travel or portable version of a game.

The identity of each game piece 10, as illustrated in FIG. 5, may be defined by any number of methods. The identity may be printed on the underside of the game piece 10. For example, in chess, the letter K could indicate a king, N a knight, Q a queen, etc. The identity of the game piece 10 may also be identified by stamping or otherwise embossing the shape or identity of the game piece 10 on the game piece itself. The packaging of each individual game piece 10 may also be clear or transparent, thereby allowing the user to view a prize 20 contained in the game piece 10. The prize 20 may then be colored, designed, embossed or otherwise manufactured to identify the game piece 10. In a further embodiment, the packaging of each individual game piece 10 is opaque and further colored to identify the game piece 10 without disclosing the prize 20 contained therein. For example, a checkers game piece may be opaque red or black.

Referring to FIG. 1, in each embodiment of the invention, the game pieces 10 include an internal chamber 22 for securing a prize 20. A prize 20 can be secured or hidden in the game piece 10 by placing the prize 20 in the internal chamber 22, and the prize 20 can be removed by a user at a selected time, such as upon capture of a game piece 10 during game play. In some games, the user must consume the prizes 20 that are captured. For example, in one embodiment, the user that captures a game piece 10 may consume the prize contained therein, whereas in another embodiment, when a user captures a game piece 10, the other user consumes the prize 20 contained therein. Accordingly, it will be appreciated that the present invention, in accordance with at least one aspect thereof, provides a unique form of game-playing that incorporates an additional level of strategy and adds a motivational incentive to win the game.

Various configurations of an internal chamber 22 are available including, for example, a hollow body having a single access region, such as the embodiment of an internal chamber 22 shown in FIG. 1. In this regard, the game pieces 10 of the invention allow the combination of a conventional game with a reward mechanism, thereby making the game more fun, surprising and rewarding.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the game pieces 10 are chess pieces, and specifically, are queens. Thus, the design portion 18 of such a game piece 10 defines the identity of the given chess piece. Where game pieces 10 are chess pieces, a game piece 10 may include, for example, a pawn, rook, bishop, knight, queen, or king. Thus the present invention also relates to combinations of game pieces 10, such as a combination of game pieces 10 that comprises a complete chess set. The game pieces are utilized on a playing surface, which is preferably a board 140 (see FIG. 8). A playing surface can be a traditional playing surface or a modified playing surface. Various traditional and modified playing surfaces will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art.

The base 12 of a game piece 10 comprises a first part 14 and a second part 16 which can be fitted together to form the internal chamber 22 for securing a prize 20. The purpose of the second part 16 is to hold the prize 20 contents in the game piece 10. In an optional embodiment, such as when the game pieces are used to play checkers, and as shown in FIGS. 3a and 3b, the second part 16 is a removable cap that can be fitted together with the first part 14, thereby covering the access region. In another optional embodiment, as shown in FIG. 6e, the second part 16 is a removable plug which may be manufactured to fit inside the first part 14. In a further optional embodiment, the first part 14 and second part 16 form a one-piece base 12. The prize 20 is removed from the one-piece base 12 by squeezing or otherwise manipulating the base to open a slot in the base, thereby allowing the prize 20 to be removed from the base 12 of the game piece 10. To secure a prize within the base 12 of the game piece, a user squeezes or otherwise manipulates the base to open the slot, thereby allowing the user to insert a prize 20 into the game piece 10.

Various means for securing together a first part 14 and a second part 16 are available including, but not limited to, press-fitting, screwing, threading, snap-on action, adhesion, hook and loop means such as Velcro, magnetism, bolting, and sliding. FIGS. 4a and 4b also show another embodiment of the game piece 10 of the present invention where the second part 16 is a cap. FIG. 4a shows a top view of a cap. Another view of a cap, as used with a game such as checkers, is illustrated in FIG. 6e.

A base 12 of a game piece 10 of the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 1. A base 12 includes a first part 14 and a second part 16, which can be fitted together to form an internal chamber 22.

Another embodiment of a game piece 10 according to the present invention is shown in FIGS. 4a and 4b. The game piece 10 includes a design portion 18 and a base 12. The design portion 18 and the base 12 can be detachable, and capable of being coupled about a joint 26, for example. The base 12 further includes a first part 14 and a cap, where the first part 14 and the cap are tethered together by a hinge 24. The cap and first part 14 can be present in an open configuration, as shown, or the cap can be rotated about the hinge 24 to fit together with the access region, thereby forming an internal chamber 22 for securing a prize 20.

In another embodiment, the present invention provides packaging which contains a game utilizing the game pieces 10 currently described (see, for example, FIG. 8). Preferably this game package 100 includes a container 110, a plurality of game pieces 10, each game piece 10 including a base 12 having a first part 14 and a second part 16 which can be fitted together to form an internal chamber 22 for securing a prize 20, where the prize 20 is capable of removal by a user, and a design portion 18 coupled with the base 12 and extending upward. The game package 100 may further include a set of instructions 120 for directing a user in operating a game piece 10, for example, instructing the user to add or remove prize 20 to a game piece 10. The game package can further include a plurality of prizes 20. The prizes 20 of the game package can each be individually secured in separate game pieces 10, or the prizes 20 can be separate from the game pieces 10, such in a separate container. In addition, the game package 100 may also include a board 140 upon which the game may be conducted using the plurality of game pieces 10. The board 140 may be any conventional board used to play the game to which the packaging is directed, most boards in the industry being typically made of cardboard or similar non-metallic insulating material. The game package 100 may further include an incentive chart or graph which allows a user to display prizes and track the progress of game previously played by a user. In an optional embodiment, the game package 100 may also operate as the board 140.

Optionally, the packaging, and game utilizing the game pieces 10 therein, may be manufactured in order to provide for convenient storage and transfer, as well as a method by which the game may be played while traveling. In this optional embodiment, and as shown in FIG. 5, a plurality of game pieces 10 are manufactured and contained in one package. However, the packaging should be such that each game piece 10 may be individually separated from the packaging to form an individual game piece 10.

In another optional embodiment, the prizes 20 may be contained in a separate container 130, as shown in FIG. 9. Offering a wide range of ancillary “Game Piece Surprise Refills” packages serves a wide range of customer preferences by allowing users to select the prizes 20 to be offered in connection with the game. It also allows the game pieces 10 to be refilled with prizes 20, thereby allowing for repeated use of the games making use of the game pieces 10 of the present invention.

The benefits associated with the game pieces 10 of the present invention include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • Immediate Reward: an enjoyable surprise integral to game.
    • Surprise: highly motivational and rewarding for children.
    • Excitement: adds a new, fin dimension (or step) to the experience of capturing a piece.
    • Novel: unobvious enhancement to having more fun in learning and playing game
    • Flexible: may fill game pieces with edible, and non-edible treats which may be collectible, tradable, and/or playable.
    • Intellectual Development: Interest of children playing game is increased and playing games of skill may result in the increased intellectual development of children.
    • Other Benefits:
      • Weight/Size: provides an inexpensive and fun way to increase height and weight which is widely desired by players and commonly found in more expensive game sets (e.g., chess players prefer weighted pieces).
      • Social Benefit: Helps make kids smarter; smarter kids=better world.
      • Speed: Kids will learn and improve faster given the enhanced interest in playing.
      • Ease of Use: Makes chess easier to learn as it helps the child focus more on the game.
      • Improves market penetration and acceptance for existing games (e.g., chess)

When introducing elements of the present invention or the preferred embodiment thereof, the articles “a,” “an,” “the,” and “said” are intended to be inclusive and mean that there are one or more of the elements. The terms “comprising,” “including” and “having” are intended to be inclusive and mean that there may be additional elements other than the listed elements.

The terms and expressions that have been employed in the foregoing specification are used as terms of description and not of limitation, and are not intended to exclude equivalents of the features shown and described or portions of them. The scope of the invention is defined and limited only by the claims that follow.