Title:
Gaming System and Method for Providing A Shared Win Award
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A gaming system having a plurality of game devices, a game controller and a shared experience controller and a method for operation thereof is disclosed. Each game device allows a player to make a wager on a game and awards the respective player an award as a function as a result of a winning condition for the game played by the respective player. The game controller is coupled to the game devices for playing the game, randomly establishing the actual outcome of the game, and determining if any of the players have a winning condition. The shared experience controller is coupled to the game devices for recognizing a winning condition for one of the players and responsively providing an extra predetermined award to one or more of the other players.



Inventors:
Roireau, Alan (Aroda, VA, US)
Application Number:
11/277091
Publication Date:
09/28/2006
Filing Date:
03/21/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20090117977Multigame Gaming Machine With Transmissive DisplayMay, 2009Gelber et al.
20050020348Gaming machine with a translatable flat panel displayJanuary, 2005Thomas et al.
20080318686Local Game-Area Network SystemDecember, 2008Crowder et al.
20060121964Network marketing methodJune, 2006Gilligan
20040033824Electronic poker gameFebruary, 2004Fitzhugh
20090239613GAMING MACHINE HAVING EFFECT CORRESPONDING TO AWARD TO BE PROVIDED FOR SPECIAL GAME AND PLAYING METHOD THEREOFSeptember, 2009Tsukahara
20050261050Amusement gaming machineNovember, 2005Waters
20070149286Mobile reality gamingJune, 2007Bemmel
20060135244Gaming machine with feature triggerJune, 2006Stevens



Primary Examiner:
DUFFY, DAVID W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Aristocrat Technologies, Inc. c/o Armstrong et al. (St. Louis, MO, US)
Claims:
1. A gaming system, comprising: a plurality of game devices, each game device for allowing a player to make a wager on a game and for awarding the respective player an award as a function as a result of a winning condition for the game played by the respective player; a game controller coupled to the game devices for playing the game, randomly establishing the actual outcome of the game, and determining if any of the players have a winning condition; a shared experience controller coupled to the game devices for recognizing a winning condition for one of the players and responsively providing an extra award to one or more of the other players, where the extra award is a predetermined amount.

2. A gaming system, as set forth in claim 1, wherein the plurality of game devices are grouped into subgroups, the shared experience controller for awarding the extra award to all players playing a game device within the same subgroup as the one player with a winning condition.

3. A gaming system, as set forth in claim 2, wherein the subgroups are fixed.

4. A gaming system, as set forth in claim 2, wherein the subgroups are dynamically determined.

5. A gaming system, as set forth in claim 1, wherein the players are grouped into teams, the shared experience controller for awarding the extra award to all players within the same team as the one player with a winning condition.

6. A gaming system, as set forth in claim 5, the shared experience controller for automatically assigning a player to one of the teams.

7. A gaming system, as set forth in claim 5, the shared experience controller for allowing a player to elect one of the teams to join.

8. A gaming system, as set forth in claim 1, wherein each game device includes a gaming controller.

9. A gaming system, as set forth in claim 1, wherein each game device includes a device controller, the game controller being located at a central location and coupled to each device controller, the device controller for controlling operation of the respective game device and for managing communications between the respective game device and the game controller.

10. A gaming system, as set forth in claim 1, wherein the game is a bingo game.

11. A gaming system, as set forth in claim 1, wherein each game device includes a signaling device for providing a visual indication of the winning condition and/or provision of the extra award.

12. A method for providing a shared experience for players of a plurality of game devices, each game device for allowing a player to make a wager on a game, the method comprising the steps of: playing a game and establishing an actual outcome of the game; determining if one of the players has a winning condition as a function of the actual outcome; awarding a main award to the one of the players if the winning condition is met; and recognizing the winning condition for one of the players and responsively providing an extra award to one or more of the other players, where the extra award is a predetermined amount.

13. A method, as set forth in claim 12, wherein the plurality of game devices are grouped into subgroups, wherein the step of responsively providing an extra award includes the step of awarding the extra award to all players playing a game device within the same subgroup as the one player with a winning condition.

14. A method, as set forth in claim 12, wherein the subgroups are fixed.

15. A gaming system, as set forth in claim 13, wherein the subgroups are dynamically determined.

16. A method, as set forth in claim 12, wherein the players are grouped into teams, wherein the step of responsively providing an extra award includes the step of awarding the extra award to all players within the same team as the one player with a winning condition.

17. A method, as set forth in claim 16, including the step of automatically assigning a player to one of the teams.

18. A method, as set forth in claim 16, including the step of allowing a player to elect one of the teams to join.

19. A gaming system for a plurality of players, comprising: a plurality of game devices for allowing the players to make a wager on a game and for awarding the respective player an award as a function as a result of a winning condition for the game played by the respective player; a game controller coupled to the game devices for playing the game, randomly establishing the actual outcome of the game, and determining if any of the players have a winning condition; a shared experience controller coupled to the game devices establishing for at least two teams, each team including at least two players and for recognizing the winning condition for one of the players on a first one of the teams and responsively providing an extra award to the other players on the first one of the teams, where the extra award is a predetermined amount.

20. A gaming system, as set forth in claim 19, the shared experience controller for automatically assigning a player to one of the teams.

21. A gaming system, as set forth in claim 19, the shared experience controller for allowing a player to elect one of the teams to join.

22. A gaming system, as set forth in claim 19, wherein each game device includes a gaming controller.

23. A gaming system, as set forth in claim 19, wherein each game device includes a device controller, the game controller being located at a central location and coupled to each device controller, the device controller for controlling operation of the respective game device and for managing communications between the respective game device and the game controller.

24. A gaming system, as set forth in claim 19, wherein the game is a bingo game.

25. A method for providing a shared experience for players of a plurality of game devices, each game device for allowing a player to make a wager on a game, the method comprising the steps of: establishing at least two teams, each team including at least two players; playing a game and establishing an actual outcome of the game; determining if one of the players has a winning condition as a function of the actual outcome; awarding a main award to the one of the players if the winning condition is met; and, recognizing the winning condition for one of the players on a first one of the teams and responsively providing an extra award to the other players on the first one of the teams, where the extra award is a predetermined amount

26. A method, as set forth in claim 25, wherein the step of establishing at least two teams includes the step of automatically assigning a player to one of the teams.

27. A method, as set forth in claim 25, wherein the step of establishing at least two teams includes the step of allowing a player to elect one of the teams to join.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present invention claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/665,044, filed Mar. 24, 2005, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety. U.S. patent applications Ser. Nos. (Not Available) and (Not Available), (Attorney Docket Nos. 60,583-383 and 60,583-384, respectively) also claim priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/665,044, and are hereby incorporated by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to electronic games, and more particularly, to a system and method which provides an award for a base game to a player of an electronic game and a predetermined shared win to other players in response to the first award of the base game.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Games upon which players may make wagers and win awards based on the outcome of the game have been generally known for a long time.

More recently, in order to increase player excitement and the likelihood that a player will remain at a game longer, electronic games have been linked to together to provide a progressive jackpot award. In such systems, a portion of each wager made by the players is generally added to the progressive jackpot. The progressive jackpot is typically displayed in order to generate excitement in the players as the jackpot grows.

However, this presents several problems. First, as players become more and more accustomed to “large” progressive jackpots, they may become jaded. Thus, the level of excitement may be minimum until the progressive jackpot becomes large.

Second, generally progressive jackpots are awarded when a player generates a predetermined or preset condition within the main game. Thus, there is no building of excitement between the players based on each others' play. In other words, with a typical progressive jackpot, there is no shared excitement which is generated when another player wins because it has no positive effect for the other players.

The present invention is aimed at one or more of the problems identified above.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In a first aspect of the present invention a gaming system having a plurality of game devices, a game controller and a shared experience controller is provided. Each game device allows a player to make a wager on a game and awards the respective player an award as a function as a result of a winning condition for the game played by the respective player. The game controller is coupled to the game devices for playing the game, randomly establishing the actual outcome of the game, and determining if any of the players have a winning condition. The shared experience controller is coupled to the game devices for recognizing a winning condition for one of the players and responsively providing an extra predetermined award to one or more of the other players.

In a second aspect of the present invention, a method for providing a shared experience for players of a plurality of game devices is provided. Each game device allows a player to make a wager on a game. The method includes the steps of playing a game and establishing an actual outcome of the game, determining if one of the players has a winning condition as a function of the actual outcome, and awarding a main award to the one of the players if the winning condition is met. The method also includes the step of recognizing the winning condition for one of the players and responsively providing an extra predetermined award to one or more of the other players.

In a third aspect of the present invention, a gaming system for a plurality of players having a plurality of game devices, a game controller and a shared experience controller is provided. The game devices allow the players to make a wager on a game and awarding the respective player an award as a function as a result of a winning condition for the game played by the respective player. The game controller is coupled to the game devices for playing the game, randomly establishing the actual outcome of the game, and determining if any of the players have a winning condition. The shared experience controller is coupled to the game devices for establishing at least two teams. Each team includes at least two players. The shared experience controller recognizes the winning condition for one of the players on a first one of the teams and responsively provides an extra predetermined award to the other players on the first one of the teams.

In a fourth aspect of the present invention, a method for providing a shared experience for players of a plurality of game devices is provided. Each game device allows a player to make a wager on a game. The method includes the step of establishing at least two teams. Each team includes at least two players. The method further includes the steps of playing a game and establishing an actual outcome of the game, determining if one of the players has a winning condition as a function of the actual outcome, and awarding a main award to the one of the players if the winning condition is met. The method also includes the step of recognizing the winning condition for one of the players on a first one of the teams and responsively providing an extra predetermined award to the other players on the first one of the teams.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention will now be described, by way of example, with reference to the appended description, claims and drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a game system for providing a shared win among players of an electronic game, according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a game system for providing a shared win among players of an electronic game, according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a flow diagram of a method for providing a shared win among players of an electronic game, according to an embodiment of the present invention; and,

FIG. 4 is a flow diagram of a method for providing a shared win among players of an electronic game, according to another embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

With reference to the drawings and in operation, the present invention provides a game system 10 for playing an electronic game.

With particular reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, the game system 10 includes a plurality of player game devices 12 and a game controller 14. For example, the system 10 may include n game devices 12A-12n. The player game device 12 allows a player to place a wager on a game.

In one embodiment, each game device 12 includes a game controller 14. Each game controller 14 may independently run a game for the game device 12.

For example, the game devices may be video slot machines, as is known in the art. Each video slot machine includes a game controller 14 which independent runs games on the machine.

In another embodiment, the game controller 14 is embodied in a remote computer, such as a server 16 (see FIG. 2). The game controller 14 runs the games which are operable on the game devices 12.

For example, in some jurisdictions or for certain facilities, wagering is permitted on only certain types of games, e.g., Bingo. In these jurisdictions, the players may compete against each other in the electronic game. The Bingo game may be run on the central server, however, each player interfaces with the game through a game device 12. Furthermore, although the base game is a Bingo game, the game devices 12 may present an interface or face on top of the Bingo game which mimics, simulates, or appears as another type of game.

For example, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/797,338, filed Mar. 10, 2004 (attorney docket no. 60,583-004), which is hereby incorporated by reference, and is currently assigned to the assignee of the present application, discloses a gaming system which plays a bingo game and then displays a representation of the result through a mechanical technological aid at the game device(s).

U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/938,490. filed Sep. 10, 2004 (attorney docket no. 60,583-050) and U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/939,489 filed Sep. 10, 2004 (attorney docket no. 60583-051) both of which are incorporated by reference, disclose gaming systems which show the results of an electronic game by simulating a blackjack game and a Keno game, respectively.

The game controller 14 is coupled to the player game device 12 for playing the electronic game and establishing an outcome of the electronic game. Typically, the outcome of the electronic game includes a payout or award according to a first pay table if a winning condition has been achieved.

The electronic game may be any type of game which has an outcome and provides a payout. For example, the type of electronic game may include, but is not limited to, bingo and similar games, slot machines, casino games, card games, dog or horse racing, lotteries, and all other forms of gaming. For purposes of illustration only, the present invention is described below in terms of a bingo game which is run by a game controller implemented on a server computer, but the present invention is not limited to such.

With particular reference to FIG. 2 in one embodiment, a plurality of player game devices 12 connected to a server 16 are provided. The game controller 14 is implemented by the server 16. Each player device 12 may be connected to the server 16 by an Ethernet link 18.

The player game device 12 allows a player to place a wager and purchase an electronic bingo card 20. In one embodiment, the electronic bingo card is a 5×5 grid with the columns labeled B, I, N, G, and O, respectively. The center cell may be a “free” cell.

Each Bingo game has at least one winning pattern. A winning pattern is a sub-set of the cells of the grid which trigger an award or payout. The amount of the award or payout may be dependent upon the wager made by the player and a predetermined pay table. In one embodiment, each Bingo game has a game-ending pattern which signifies the end of the game. For example, the game-ending pattern may include all of the cells of the electronic bingo card 20. The payout associated with the game-ending pattern is paid to the first player who achieves the game-ending pattern.

One or more interim winning patterns may also be included. The interim winning patterns may provide a payout, without ending the game, as a function of the player's wager and a second pay table. The interim winning patterns may have other conditions associated therewith. For example, in order for a payout to occur, the interim winning pattern must be achieved within a predetermined number of the randomly drawn numbers.

The game controller 14 is coupled to the player game device 12 and establishes a set of chosen numbers. In one embodiment, the set of chosen numbers are randomly chosen using a random number generator (not shown).

In one embodiment, there are a predetermined number of numbers in the set of chosen numbers, e.g., seventy-five.

In one embodiment, the predetermined number of numbers in the set of chosen numbers are established within a predetermined period of time, e.g., approximately 10 seconds.

The game controller 14 compares the set of randomly chosen numbers with the associated winning pattern and establishes an outcome of the electronic bingo game. The outcome of the electronic bingo game may include a payout according to a first pay table if the winning pattern has been achieved. The winning pattern may be the game ending pattern and/or one or more interim winning patterns. In other words, the outcome of the electronic bingo game may include a payout to the player if the game ending pattern is achieved and, alternatively or in addition, may include a second payout if an interim winning pattern is achieved.

The outcome of the electronic bingo game may be a “loss” if no winning pattern is achieved after all numbers have been selected or another player achieves the game winning pattern.

After the Bingo game has been played, the game controller 14 may simulate another type of game on the player game device 12.

With specific reference to FIG. 2, the player game device 12 may be a stand-alone device, console or upright machine which is connected to the server 16 via, for example, an Ethernet link 18. In one embodiment, the player game device 12 includes a display device 20, a bill validator 22, a user interface 24, a ticket printer 26, a device controller 28, and a signaling device.

To initiate the play of the game, a player inserts credits or coins, or currency into the player game device 12. Coins may be inserted into a coin acceptor (not shown) if provided. Currency may be inserted into a bill validator 22. The coins or currency may be converted into credits. Alternatively or in addition, the player may insert a ticket or card having a number of credits represented thereon or may insert a player tracking card to access credits in a player account.

The user interface device 24 allows interaction between the player game device 12, the game controller 14, and the player. The user interface device 24 may include the display 20 and a plurality of buttons. In one embodiment, the user interface device 24 is a touch-screen device. User input buttons are implemented by the touch screen. Alternatively, or in addition, other input buttons may be implemented by mechanical push-buttons. The number of credits or currency input by the player are added to a credit meter and displayed on the display screen 20.

The user interface device 24 may also provide a menu button. The player may access additional functions via the menu button. For example, the menu button provides the player with an opportunity, through a menu item, to cash out. In one embodiment, in response to the player choosing to cash out, a ticket representing the remaining credits on the credit meter 32 is printed by the ticket printer 26. The printed ticket may be redeemed for cash at a kiosk or cashier station.

The bill validator 22, the user interface device 24, and the ticket printer 26 are coupled to and controlled by the device controller 28. The device controller 28 also manages communications to and from the server 16.

Although the game devices 12 have been described as providing a Bingo based main game through the server 16, this is for exemplary purposes only. The present invention is not limited to any specific type of main game nor to a game which is run by a remote server.

In one aspect of the present invention, the system 10 provides a shared experience for the players. In one embodiment, as shown in FIG. 2, the system 10 includes a shared experience controller 32, which may be implemented by the server 32 or by another computer or by one of the device controllers 28 in one of the game devices 12.

As discussed above, the system 10 allows players to make wagers on a game through the game devices 12. The game may be run by the game controller 14. The game controller 14 may be implemented in the device controller 28 on each game device 12 or by a remote computer, such as the server 16.

Each game device 12 allows a player to make a wager on a game and awards the respective player an award as a function as a result of a winning condition for the game played by the respective player and a paytable. Generally, the game control plays the game, randomly establishes an actual outcome of the game, and determines if any of the players have a winning condition.

The shared experience controller 32 is coupled to the game devices, recognizes a win or a winning condition for one of the players and awards an extra award to one or more of the other players.

It should also be noted, that there may be one or more extra awards simultaneously or within the same game. For example, if the players are playing the same game via a remote game controller, and two players win, other players may receive an extra award for the first player's win and from the second player's win.

In one embodiment, each player game device 12 includes a game controller 14. The shared experience controller 32 may be embodied in a remote or central computer such as the server 16. The shared experience controller 32 may be coupled to the game devices 12 through the network 18. In another embodiment, the game controller 14 and the shared experience controller 32 may be implemented in one or more remote computers or servers 16, which are coupled or networked to the device controller 28 in each game device 12. Those skilled in the art will recognize that other arrangements may also be used.

The extra award is a predetermined amount, typically in credits or a monetary value. It is not dependent on, nor contributed to by the wagers made from the players.

In one embodiment, the predetermined amount is fixed, randomly determined, or determined in response to input from one or more of the players.

In this manner, the players have a shared positive experience, when one of the players wins, the other players also have a chance of winning an award, i.e., the extra award.

In general, only players currently playing will have a chance to win the extra award.

In one embodiment, the game devices are grouped into subgroups. When one player wins a game on one of the game devices and is given an award, the extra predetermined award may be awarded to all of the players playing on game devices within the same subgroup. Alternatively, players playing on games devices in another subgroup may be awarded the extra predetermined award.

For example, the game devices 12 may be organized into banks or “zones”. The game devices 12 in a particular bank or zones may be of similar type or may be different types of machines. Each bank may constitute a subgroup or a subgroup may be composed of two or more banks.

Alternatively, subgroups may be organized on some other geographic relationship, e.g., a subgroup may be comprised of one game device 12 and one or both of the game devices 12 immediate adjacent on either side.

In a further embodiment, the subgroups of game devices may be organized in a random or apparently random fashion.

In one aspect of the present invention, the organization of the game devices 12 into subgroups may be fixed or predetermined. In another aspect of the present invention, the game devices 12 may be dynamically organized into subgroups. In other words, the game devices 12 are added to a subgroup when a player begins to play the game on the game device 12. The subgroup to which they are added may be dependent upon its location and/or how many players are currently playing, and the number of players currently in the subgroups.

In another aspect of the present invention, the players are alternatively grouped into teams. When one player on a team wins a game and is given an award, the extra predetermined award may be awarded to all of the players on the same team. Alternatively, the players on another team may be awarded the extra predetermined award.

In one embodiment, the shared experience controller 32 may automatically assign a player to one of the teams as they begin to use a game device 12. Generally, this would be done to even out the teams.

Alternatively, the shared experience controller 32 may prompt the player to pick a team to join. In this manner, players may agree or choose to play on the same team.

In one aspect of the present invention each game device includes a signaling device 30. The signaling device 30 may be one or more of any type of device(s) located on the game device 30, including lights, LEDS or other illuminating device located on or near a game cabinet of the game device 12 or a portion of the display 20. The signaling device 32 may also include one or more speakers. The signaling device 30 may be used to provide a visual and/or audio indication of the winning condition and/or provision of the extra award.

With particular reference to FIG. 3, a method 50 for providing a shared experience for players of a plurality of game devices 12 is provided. Each game device 12 allows a player to make a wager on a game. In a first step 52, a game is played and the actual outcome of the game is randomly established. In a second step 54, the actual outcome of the game is used to determine if one of the players has a winning condition as a function of the actual outcome. In a third step 56, a main award is awarded to one of the players if the winning condition is met. In a fourth step 58, the winning condition of one of the players is recognized and the extra award is provided to one or more of the other players.

In a still another aspect of the present invention, a method 60 for providing a shared experience for players of a plurality of game devices 12 is provided. Each game device 12 allows a player to make a wager on a game. In a first step 62, at least two teams are established. Each team includes at least two players. In a second step 64 the actual outcome of the game is used to determine if one of the players has a winning condition as a function of the actual outcome. In a third step 66, a main award is awarded to the one of the players if the winning condition is met. In a fourth step 68, the winning condition is recognized for one of the players on a first one of the teams and an extra award is responsively provided to the other players on the first one of the teams.

It will, of course, be understood that the foregoing description is of a preferred exemplary embodiment of the invention and that the invention is not limited to the specific embodiments shown. Other changes and modifications will become apparent to those skilled in the art and all such changes and modifications are intended to be within the scope of the present invention.