Title:
Electronic word game
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Methods and apparatus for an improved automated version of a word game that incorporates game play methodology into a central controller and communicates game play information to the players through a game console that provides each player with an input pod for communication with the microprocessor. The microprocessor incorporates features including a timer, scoring system, random letter generator and a random element generator so as to increase ease of use and speed up game play. The microprocessor communicates information to the players through a variety of lights that are selectively illuminated as well as a self-contained speaker for communicating audible information to the players.



Inventors:
Hall, Edward K. (Elmhurst, IL, US)
Hand, James C. (Glen Ellyn, IL, US)
Dittmer, Howard (Lake Bluff, IL, US)
Herbst, Walter B. (Lake Forest, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/199371
Publication Date:
06/22/2006
Filing Date:
08/08/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
RADA, ALEX P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PATTERSON THUENTE PEDERSEN, P.A. (MINNEAPOLIS, MN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. An electronic game console comprising: a console body having an inner display portion and an outer perimeter portion, the inner display portion having a plurality of illuminating display elements and the outer perimeter portion having a plurality of communication pods; and a controller operatively connected to the plurality of illuminating display elements and the plurality of communication pods; wherein the controller includes a game play algorithm and a random element generator such that the controller controls a play mode for the electronic game console and directs the plurality of illuminating display elements to selectively illuminate based on the play mode; and wherein the communication pods provide a player input to the controller such that the controller can identify a successful player.

2. The electronic game console of claim 1, wherein the plurality of communication pods comprise a plurality of illuminating communication pods and wherein the illuminating communication pods are illuminated based upon successful actuation by a player or at the direction of the controller.

3. The electronic game console of claim 1, wherein the controller further comprises a power switch to provide power to the controller when the power switch is in an on position.

4. The electronic game console of claim 1, wherein the controller further comprises a level switch to provide a difficulty input to the controller such that the game play algorithm adjusts a difficulty level of the play mode based on the position of the level switch.

5. The electronic game console of claim 1, wherein each communication pod comprises an illuminating pushbutton operatively connected to the controller for providing the player input.

6. The electronic game console of claim 1, wherein the illuminating display elements comprise a central light that is selectively illuminated by the controller at a start of game play.

7. The electronic game console of claim 6, wherein the illuminating display elements comprise a plurality of illuminated mode displays positioned radially about the central light, each illuminated mode display being selectively illuminated by the controller when a corresponding play mode occurs during the game play algorithm.

8. The electronic game console of claim 7, wherein the play modes are selected from the group comprising: a standard mode, a syllable mode, a point doubler mode, a mid-point mode, a reverse mode, a challenge mode and an exclusionary mode.

9. The electronic game console of claim 7, wherein the illuminating display elements further comprise a boundary light surrounding the plurality of illuminated mode displays, the boundary light being selectively illuminated by the controller during a play portion of the game play algorithm.

10. The electronic game console of claim 1, wherein the controller comprises a microprocessor.

11. The electronic game console of claim 10, wherein the controller further comprises a power source having a battery source or a power cord operatively connected to a power outlet.

12. The electronic game console of claim 1, wherein the random element generator randomly generates a word length, a selected letter and the play mode.

13. A method for playing an electronic word game comprising: generating a game play mode using a random element generator within a controller, the game play mode determining characteristics of a successful answer; interfacing with the controller by pressing a player specific pushbutton to indicate when a player has satisfied the characteristic of a successful answer, recording a score for the successful answer, the score being dependent upon the game play mode selected by the controller; tracking individual scores for each player with the controller; and identifying a game winner with the controller when a player achieves a score equal to or greater than a winning score.

14. The method of claim 13, wherein the game play mode is selected from the group comprising: a standard mode, a syllable mode, a point doubler mode, a mid-point mode, a reverse mode, a challenge mode and an exclusionary mode.

15. The method of claim 13, wherein identifying the winner comprises audibly identifying the winner using a speaker operatively connected to the controller.

16. The method of claim 13, further comprising: selecting a difficulty level of the game play mode prior to beginning game play.

17. The method of claim 13, wherein the controller for generating the game play mode comprises a microprocessor.

18. The method of claim of claim 13, wherein the random element generator randomly generates a word length, a selected letter and the game play mode.

19. An electronic game console comprising: means for randomly generating a game play mode with a controller; means for interfacing with the controller to indicate when a player has satisfied the characteristic of a successful answer, means for recording a score for the successful answer, the score being dependent upon the game play mode generated by the controller; and means for tracking individual scores for each player.

20. The electronic game console of claim 19, further comprising: a means for identifying a game winner when a player achieves a score equal to or greater than a winning score.

21. An electronic game console comprising: a console body having a display portion, a speaker and an outer perimeter portion, the inner display portion having a display element and the outer perimeter portion having a plurality of communication pods; and a controller operatively connected to the display portion, the speaker and the plurality of communication pods; wherein the controller includes a random element generator for selecting a letter, a number and a play mode for a game play round, the letter, number and play mode being communicated though the inner display portion; and wherein the communication pods provide a player input to the controller such that the controller can identify a successful player for the game play round.

22. The electronic game console of claim 21, wherein the display element comprises an illuminated display light, a liquid crystal display and combinations thereof.

Description:

PRIORITY CLAIM

The present application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Applications Nos. 60/599,253 filed Aug. 6, 2004, entitled “WORD RACE,” and 60/688,740 filed Jun. 8, 2005, entitled “ELECTRONIC WORD GAME,” each provisional application being herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to word games for amusement and educational purposes. More specifically, the present invention relates to an electronically automated word game providing for easier, more enjoyable game play.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A wide variety of word games are known and enjoyed by game players worldwide. Representative examples of popular word games include Scrabble® and Boggle®. In addition to these popular, mainstream games, a large number of word games have been created for enjoyment and educational purposes. Representative examples of such word games include the games taught and disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,014,548 to Trilling, U.S. Pat. No. 5,306,153 to Foster, U.S. Pat. No. 5,310,346 to Dillhoff, U.S. Pat. No. 6,412,781 to Lund, and U.S. Pat. No. 6,450,499 to Letang, all of which are herein incorporated by reference to the extent not inconsistent with the present disclosure.

In U.S. Pat. No. 6,575,468 to Hall, which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety, the applicants disclosed a word game for developing language and spelling skills based on randomly selected criteria such as word length and positioning of designated letters within a word. The word game was taught as a manual version including such items as a deck of cards, timer and score pad, or alternatively, the word game was described as an electronic device such as a handheld device or personal computer allowing game play over the Internet. While the disclosure taught an enjoyable word game playable in a variety of ways, it would be desirable to further improve upon the original game play by providing for an automated version incorporating novel elements to further increase the enjoyment and learning experience of players.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present disclosure teaches an improved automated version of a word game that builds upon the Applicants' previously disclosed word game. The improved automated version incorporates the game play methodology into a controller and communicates game play information to the players through a game console that provides each player with an input pod for communication with the controller. The controller incorporates features including a random element generator, a game play algorithm, a timer and a scoring system so as to increase ease of use and speed up game play. The controller can communicate information visually to the players through a variety of illuminated displays that are selectively illuminated as well as audibly with a self-contained speaker and amplifier for communicating audible information to the players.

In one aspect, the present disclosure related to a game console comprising a controller, a plurality of display elements, a speaker and individual game pods allowing for players to interact with the controller. The controller can further comprise a microprocessor including a game play algorithm for controlling game play.

In another aspect, the present disclosure relates to improvements to an existing word game through the use of an automated controller for directing game play.

In another aspect, the present disclosure relates to a game play system having a controller, individual player input pods, a plurality of illuminated displays for communicating game play information and a speaker for communicating audible game play information.

In another aspect, the present disclosure relates to methods for improving game enjoyment through the use of an electronically automated game console.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a game console of the present disclosure.

FIG. 2 is a top view of the game console of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a side view of the game console of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a side view of the game console of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a side view of the game console of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 is a side view of the game console of FIG. 1.

FIG. 7 is a bottom view of the game console of FIG. 1.

FIG. 8 is a schematic hardware flow diagram for an embodiment of a game console of the present disclosure.

FIG. 9 is a schematic software flow diagram for an embodiment of a game console of the present disclosure.

FIG. 10 is a top view of an embodiment of a game console.

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of the game console of FIG. 10.

FIG. 12 is a bottom view of the game console of FIG. 10.

FIG. 13 is a top view of an embodiment of a game console.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

A representative game console 100 for playing a word game such as, for example, the word game taught by U.S. Pat. No. 6,575,468 to Hall which was previously incorporated herein by reference, is illustrated in FIGS. 1-7. Game console 100 generally comprises a console body 102 comprising a top surface 104 and a bottom surface 106. On top surface 104, console body 102 includes a raised inner portion 108 and a plurality of communication pods 110 arranged around a body perimeter 112. Console body 102 can further comprise a game selector portion 114 and a speaker portion 116 arranged in a suitable location, such as for example, around body perimeter 112. On bottom surface 106, console body 102 can comprise a battery portion 118 and feet 120. Feet 120 can comprise a suitable material so as to help prevent and/or eliminate sliding of game console 100 during game play. Console body 102 can comprise suitable materials such as, for example, plastic polymers commonly used in consumer goods. Console body 102 can be fabricated of suitable manufacturing methods, such as, for example, through the use of suitable molding techniques.

Raised inner portion 108 comprises a central illuminated button 122, a plurality of illuminated special displays 124 and a boundary button 126. The various light displays can comprise suitable colors such as, for example, green, red, orange, yellow, purple, blue, white and the like. In addition, the various light displays can comprise text so as to describe the function and meaning of the display when illuminated. For example, central illuminated button 122 can comprise the word “START” to signify the commencement of game play. Illuminated special displays 124 can comprise words representative of special playing conditions or special play modes such as, for example, “Reverse.” “Doubler,” “Syllables,” “Midpoint,” “Challenge,” and “No CP3A's,” the meaning of which will be subsequently described below. Boundary button 126 can comprise text such as, for example, “Keep Playing” to direct the individual players to continue their playing efforts. In addition, boundary button 126 can comprise an illuminated button.

Each of the communication pods 110 generally comprises a pod body 128 and an illuminated pod button 130. In some embodiments, illuminated pod button 130 can vary within the communication pods 110 such that none of the communication pods 110 shares the same color. Illuminated pod button 130 further functions as a switch or actuator for communicating information from the individual game players to a central controller as will be further described below.

Game selector portion 114 can comprise a power switch 132 and a game play level switch 134. Game selector portion 114 can comprise text such as, for example, “on” and “off” with reference to the position of power switch 132 and/or “Level I, II, III” relative to the position of game play level switch 134.

Battery portion 118 can comprise a removable battery cover 136 for allowing access to a battery compartment for installation and replacement of spent batteries. Game console 100 can be configured to operate with one or more suitable batteries such as, for example, AAA, AA, C, D and 9-volt batteries. In addition, game console 100 can comprise a rechargeable battery pack and may further comprise an electrical adapter/cord allowing the game console 100 to be plugged into an electrical outlet for recharging batteries and/or powering game play.

Within console body 102, game console 100 can comprise a variety of electronic components as illustrated in FIG. 8 for controlling game play. For instance, game console 100 can comprise a central controller 138 for storing a game algorithm so as to regulate game play. Central controller 138 can comprise a microprocessor or other suitable electronic controller capable of storing the game algorithm and for controlling game play. Central controller 138 includes a random element generator for randomly generating playing conditions for a particular round such as, for example, a random letter, a random number and a random play mode. Central controller 138 can be electrically interconnected to an amplifier 140 and speaker 142 located within the speaker portion 116. Central controller 138 can be electrically interconnected to power switch 132 and game play level switch 134. Central controller 138 is further electrically interconnected to the various illuminated elements such as, for example, central illuminated button 122, illuminated special displays 124, boundary button 126 and the pod lights 130. The various lights can comprise suitable light assemblies such as, for example, Light Emitting Diodes or “LED's” as labeled in FIG. 8.

As illustrated schematically in FIG. 9, the functionality, logic and game play of game console 100 is automated so as to provide improved feedback and instruction to the players. Prior to commencing a new game, power switch 132 is moved from an “off” position to an “on” position to provide power to the game console 100. The user moves the game play level switch 134 to the desired difficulty level with I being the easiest, II being the mid-level difficulty and III being the highest difficulty level.

When comparing difficulty levels, primary differences between Level I, Level II and Level III can involve the frequencies at which various letters, letter combinations and play modes occur during game play. For instance, central controller 138 can be programmed such that the frequency in which the random number and letter generator select more difficult letters, letter combinations and play modes increases as the difficulty level increases. In addition, certain letter combinations or play modes may be entirely disregarded as being too difficult at the easiest level. Representative random selection frequencies for Level I can be as contained in Table 1 below:

TABLE 1
Level I (Easy) Random Generator Frequencies
Random
Selection
Percentage (per
Variable CategorySpecific Variableround basis)
Individual LettersA, B, C, D5.0%
E-P, R-W3.3%
Q, X-Z1.7%
Letter CombinationsPH, RE, SH, DE, IN, TH, CH, ST1.7%
Word Length25.0%
3, 412.5% 
517.5% 
615.0% 
≧7  5%
Special Play ModeDoubler7.5%
Challenge, Reverse5.0%
No CP3A's, Mid-Point2.5%

Similarly, representative random selection frequencies for Level II can be as contained as in Table 2 below:

TABLE 2
Level II (Intermediate) Random Generator Frequencies
Random
Selection
Percentage (per
Variable CategorySpecific Variableround basis)
Individual LettersA-Z3.3%
Letter CombinationsPH, RE, SH, DE, IN, TH, CH, ST1.7%
Word Length2, 113.3%
3, 4, 96.7%
5, 710.0% 
6, 88.3%
105.0%
12, ≧131.7%
Special Play ModeDoubler6.7%
Challenge10.0% 
Reverse5.0%
No CP3A's, Mid-Point3.3%

Finally, representative random selection frequencies for Level III can be as contained as in Table 3 below:

TABLE 3
Level III (Most Difficult) Random Generator Frequencies
Random
Selection
Percentage (per
Variable CategorySpecific Variableround basis)
Individual LettersA-Z3.3%
Letter CombinationsPH, RE, SH, DE, IN, TH, CH, ST1.7%
Word Length2, 113.3%
3, 105.0%
4, 96.70% 
5, 88.3%
6, 710.0% 
12, ≧131.7%
Special Play ModeDoubler, No CP3A's, Mid-Point5.0%
Challenge8.3%
Reverse, Syllables6.7%

In addition to the above-described random selection frequency percentages, central controller 138 can be further programmed such that the possibility of the random generator selecting Special Play Modes in consecutive rounds varies according to level. For instance, Level I can have a very low probability of having consecutive rounds with Special Play Modes, Level II can have a medium probability of having consecutive rounds with Special Play Modes and Level III can have a high probability of consecutive rounds with Special Play Modes.

After game console 100 has been turned on and the difficulty level selected, a player commences a new game by pressing central illuminated button 122, as illustrated at step 200, which, communicates with central controller 138 to begin a new game. At step 202, central controller 138 randomly generates the playing conditions for the round, which includes randomly selecting a letter, a number and the play mode for the round. At step 204, central controller 138 audibly indicates the play mode for the round by transmitting an audio signal through audio amplifier 140 and speaker 142. At the same time, one of the illuminated special displays 124 can be illuminated at the direction of central controller 138, for example, if the syllable special play mode has been selected, an illuminated special display 124 with the text “SYLLABLE” can be illuminated.

The random letter, number and play mode generated by central controller 138 during step 202 dictates what will be acceptable words for players to spell during a particular round. In the instance where the central controller 138 does not randomly select a special play mode for the round, the random letter corresponds to the first letter of acceptable words for the round while the random number corresponds to the number of letters for acceptable words during the round. For instance, the word “computer” would be an acceptable word for a round in which, central controller 138 selected the random letter “c” and the random number “8” as “computer” begins with a “c” and contains “8” letters. A player who wins a round under this situation would score eight points based on the length of the word.

In the event that central controller 138 randomly selects a special play mode during step 202, central controller 138 causes the appropriate illuminated special display 124 to be illuminated so as to indicate what special play mode the round will operate under. The various special play modes and their effects on game play and scoring are as follows:

Doubler Play Mode—The doubler play mode effects game play by doubling the point total awarded a game player for winning a round. For instance, if the doubler play mode was in effect for the previously described example for “computer,” sixteen points would be awarded to the successful player instead of eight points.

Mid-Point Play Mode—The mid-point play mode requires that suitable words have the randomly generated letter present in the middle of the word as opposed to at the beginning of the word. For example, if the randomly generated letter was a “v” and the randomly generated number was “5” with the mid-point illuminated special display 124 being illuminated, successful words could include “river” or “level.” As will be obvious, the central controller 138 only designates mid-point play mode when the randomly generated number is an odd number.

Syllable Play Mode—The syllable play mode causes the randomly generated number generated by central controller 138 to refer to the number of syllables in a successful word beginning with the randomly generated letter. For example, if the randomly generated number is “3,” the randomly selected letter is “c” and the syllable illuminated special display 124 is illuminated, the word “computer” would be a successful word for the round.

Reverse Play Mode—The reverse play mode causes the randomly generated letter to be present as the last letter of a successful word as opposed to the first letter. For instance, if the randomly generated letter is “r” and the randomly selected number is “8” and the reverse illuminated special display 124 is illuminated, the word “computer” would be a successful word for the round.

Exclusionary Play Mode—The exclusionary play mode serves to remove certain types of words from being used successfully during a round. During the exclusionary play mode, certain types of words including compound words, plural words, apostrophes, acronyms and abbreviations are eliminated from consideration as successful words. The illuminated special display 124 corresponding to the exclusionary play mode can include the descriptor “NoCP3A” which is an abbreviated symbol intended to indicated that compound words, plural words, apostrophes, acronyms and abbreviations are not to used during the exclusionary play mode.

Challenge Play Mode—The challenge play mode serves to change the manner in which, points are accumulated for the round. In the challenge play mode, points are not only awarded to the successful player as previously described, but in addition the same amount of points are deducted from the point totals of the unsuccessful players during the round. For instance, if the challenge illuminated special display 124 is light and the randomly selected number is “8,” the successfully player received eight points while the unsuccessful players will have eight points deducted from their current score totals at the end of the round.

While the various special play modes have been described individually, it will be understood that various combinations of special play modes can be simultaneously implemented in a single round. For instance, if the randomly selected letter is “r” and the randomly selected number is “8” and both the doubler illuminated special display 124 and reverse illuminated special display 124 are both illuminated, the word “computer” used by a successful player will cause the player to earn sixteen points. The types of combinations used for the special play modes can vary amongst difficulty levels.

After central controller 138 has selected and announced and/or visually indicated the playing conditions for the round in step 202, central controller 138 causes a light to be illuminated at step 206 to indicate that a timed round is about to commence. In step 206, the light to be illuminated can include the central illuminated button 122, all of the illuminated special displays 124, boundary button 126 or all of the pod lights 130, either individually or in combination. In some embodiments not presently depicted, game console 100 can comprise a “READY” light that is illuminated by central controller 138 during step 204 to indicate that players should prepare to begin writing words satisfying the criteria identified in step 202. During step 206, central controller 138 can cause the various lights to flash or remain constantly illuminated for a predetermined amount of time, generally several seconds.

After the predetermined time of step 206, central controller 138 resets an internal timer at step 208 and begins timing the game playing round using the internal timer in step 210. Step 210 can have a time duration of about fifteen seconds to about one minute. The time duration of step 210 can vary based on the complexity of the criteria established in step 202 and/or based on the level of difficulty selected with game play level switch 134. During step 210, each player attempts to think of and write a word satisfying the criteria established in step 202. In the final seconds of step 210, the various lights can being blinking under the direction of central controller 138 to indicate that time is running out as shown in step 212. When a player has completely written a word they believe satisfies the criteria established in step 202, the player presses their illuminated pod button 130 as shown in step 214 so as to stop the time as shown in step 216. In the event that no player completes their word in the allotted time, the timer times out and stops as shown in step 218, central controller 138 requests one of the players to press central display 122 at step 220 which resets the central controller 138 at step 222 so as to allow the players to start a new round by repeating the criteria selection of step 202.

After a player presses their illuminated pod button 130 in step 214, all of the players confer to determine if the written word satisfies the criteria established in step 202. If the word satisfies the criteria of step 202, central controller 138 determines the scores of the players at step 224. At step 226, central controller 138 requests a player to press the central illuminated button 122 to continue with game play. In the event that the word written by the player who pressed the illuminated pod button 130 fails to satisfy the criteria of step 202, the players press the boundary button 126 at step 228 wherein central controller 138 can deduct points at step 230 from the unsuccessful player from step 214. Central controller 138 directs the speaker 142 to indicate that points are being deducted at step 232 and then clears any lighted portions at step 234 wherein microprocessor repeats the round beginning with step 210.

In the event that the player who pressed the illuminated pod button 130 in step 214 has successfully written a word satisfying the criteria established in step 202 the players press the central illuminated button 122 in step 236 causing central controller 138 to calculate each players' score in step 238. Central controller 138 then directs speaker 142 to audibly indicate each players' score in step 240. After the scores have been announced, step 241 directs the players to press the central illuminated button 122 shown in step 242 wherein the central controller 138 can either clear the criteria of step 202 in step 244 or alternatively, if a player has achieved enough points so as to be victorious, announce the winner in step 246. If a winner is declared in step 246, central controller 138 directs speaker 142 to direct player to press the central illuminated button 122 if a new game is desired in step 248. If the players start a new game in step 248, the central controller 138 clears all of the previous scores in step 250. From step 250, the central controller 138 proceeds to step 244 wherein step 202 is repeated to randomly select game play criteria for the next round such that the process is repeated.

While game console 100 has been described with reference to play by multiple players, it will be understood that game play can be similarly performed by teams of players as well as an individual player.

Another representative embodiment of an electronic game console 300 is illustrated in FIGS. 10, 11 and 12. Electronic game console 300 can comprise a console body 302 having a top surface 304 and a base surface 306. As depicted, console body 302 defines a hexagonal perimeter 308 with six sides 310. The hexagonal perimeter 308 provides for up to six players to play the electronic game console 300 simultaneously. It will be understood that console body 302 can be manufactured to accommodate any suitable maximum number of players such as, for example, four, five and eight, and would comprise a corresponding perimeter shape such as, for example, a square, pentagon and octagon.

As is best illustrated in FIG. 10, top surface 304 and base surface 306 comprise perimeters such as, for example, a top perimeter 312 and a base perimeter 314 generally corresponding to the shape of the hexagonal perimeter 308. Top perimeter 312 generally comprises a smaller perimeter than base perimeter 314 such that sides 310 reside in an angled orientation between the top perimeter 312 and base perimeter 314 as can be seen in FIG. 11.

Top surface 304 comprises a central illuminated button 316 and a pair of exterior illuminated buttons 318a, 318b. Central illuminated button 316 and exterior illuminated buttons 318a, 318b preferably comprise different colors such as, for example, central illuminated button 316 having a red color, exterior illuminated button 318a having a green color and exterior illuminated button 318b having a blue color. Central lighted portion 316 and exterior illuminated buttons 318a, 318b can be flush with the top surface 304 or can project upwardly from the top surface 304 to promote visibility. Central illuminated button 316 and exterior illuminated buttons 318a, 318b can comprise pushbutton switch for interfacing with and providing an input to an electronic circuit having a central controller 319 present within console body 302.

Each side 310 comprises a scoring apparatus 320 located proximate to a junction 322 between adjacent sides 310. Each scoring apparatus 320 can comprise a scoring scale 324 and a scoring member 326. Scoring member 326 can be physically attached to scoring scale 324 or alternatively, can be slidably mounted within a groove 328 located at junction 322.

Base surface 306 can comprise a battery cover 324 for installing a pair of batteries 326a, 326b for powering the electrical circuit. Alternatively, electronic game console 300 can comprise a power jack such that the electronic game console 300 can be attached to a conventional electrical outlet.

Electronic game console 300 generally operates and employs similar game methodology as previously described with respect to game console 100 with the exception that some automated features of game console 100 are performed manually with game console 300. For example, players maintain and adjust their own scores by slidably positioning the scoring member 324 along scoring scale 322 as opposed to having an automated controller keep track of scoring.

In use, game play utilizing game console 300 can be initiated by pressing either of the exterior illuminated buttons 318a, 318b. The input from either of exterior illuminated buttons 318a, 318b causes the central controller to issue verbal instructions through an internal amplifier and speaker similar to what was previously described with respect to game console 100. The verbal instructions generally include a selected letter for the round, a selected word length for the round and any special play modes for the round. After the verbal instructions have been given, a player again presses either of exterior illuminated buttons 318a, 318b wherein a go prompt is verbally issued indicating to the users that the central controller has commenced timing the round and that a word satisfying the verbal instructions should be written by the players. The length of the timer can vary based upon difficulty level for example from sixty seconds for Level I and fifteen seconds for Level III.

When a player believes they have written a word satisfying the requirements of the verbal instructions, the player immediately presses the central illuminated button 316. By pressing the central illuminated button 316, the central controller is instructed to pause the timer. The remaining players then confirm that the word satisfies the verbal instructions. If the word is satisfactory, the player advances scoring member 326 the appropriate point valve along the scoring scale 324. If the word does not satisfy the requirements, the central illuminated button 316 is pressed again causing the timer to commence the remaining countdown amount until one of the remaining players completes a word and stops the timer by again pressing the central illuminated button 316. After a word has been written satisfying the requirements of the verbal instructions, the next game play round is initiated by pressing either of the exterior illuminated buttons 318a, 318b and new verbal instructions are issued. The process is repeated until a player achieves a winning score as indicated by their scoring apparatus 320.

An alternative, representative game console 400 is illustrated in FIG. 13. Game console 400 generally resembles game console 100 and can comprise console body 102, top surface 104, raised inner portion 108, communication pods 110, game selector portion 114 and speaker portion 116. Game console 400 differs from game console 100 in that a display element 402 generally replaces the central illuminated button 122 as well as the illuminated special displays 124. Display element 402 can comprise a suitable display such as, for example, a Liquid Crystal Display (LCD). Display element 402 comprises a number display portion 404, a letter display portion 406 and a mode display portion 408.

Game console 400 is used and played in a similar fashion as game console 100 with the exception that central controller 138 directs the display of the word length, selected letter and play mode be displayed using display element 402 as opposed to illuminating the central illuminated button 122 and illuminated special displays 124. In addition, central controller 138 can direct the word length, selected letter and play mode be audibly communicated through speaker portion 116 simultaneously to the their display on display element 402. Following completion of a game play round, individual player scores can be displayed using display element 402 prior to commencement of the next round of play.

Although the present invention has been described with respect to the various embodiments, it will be understood that numerous insubstantial changes in configuration, arrangement or appearance of the elements of the present invention can be made without departing from the intended scope of the present invention. Accordingly, it is intended that the scope of the present invention be determined by the claims as set forth.