Title:
Gaming machine providing redeemable music awards
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A gaming machine and method for conducting a wagering game includes awarding a player a music award redeemable for a downloadable music track or number of music tracks, a movie, a video or other entertainment award based on the outcome of game play or other gaming criteria. The downloadable music track or other entertainment award may be downloaded to a separate portable media recording device associated with the player and can be downloaded at the gaming machine, at a kiosk designed for award redemption, at a computer terminal in the casino or at a remote location. Alternatively, the player may be provided with a code that can be used to download a music track at a gaming machine or elsewhere, such as at a personal computer.



Inventors:
Rigsby, Gene (Chicago, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/342360
Publication Date:
07/26/2007
Filing Date:
01/26/2006
Assignee:
WMS GAMING INC.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
JONES, MARCUS D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NIXON PEABODY LLP (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A gaming machine comprising: a value input device for receiving a wager from a player to play a wagering game; and a display for displaying an outcome randomly selected from a plurality of possible outcomes, at least one of said outcomes being associated with an award, said award being redeemable by said player for a music track.

2. The gaming machine of claim 1, wherein said music track is recordable to a portable media recording device.

3. The gaming machine of claim 1, wherein said music track is in the form of an electronic file that is stored in a database coupled to said gaming machine, said music track being downloaded to a portable media recording device coupled to said gaming machine.

4. The gaming machine of claim 3, wherein said portable media recording device includes a compact disk, Ipod®, MP3 player, Jumpdrive®, CompactFlash® or SD Secure Digital™ card.

5. The gaming machine of claim 1, wherein said display displays a music-track list and said music track is selected by said player from a set of individual songs or a compilation of songs.

6. The gaming machine of claim 2, further including a port that is coupled to said portable media recording device, said port for directly downloading said music track to said portable media recording device.

7. The gaming machine of claim 1, wherein said award can be combined with other of said awards to achieve a larger number of said music tracks.

8. The gaming machine of claim 1, wherein said award is redeemable at said gaming machine, a kiosk designed for award redemption, a computer terminal or at a remote location.

9. A method of conducting a wagering game on a gaming machine, the method comprising: receiving a wager input from a player at said gaming machine; displaying an outcome randomly selected from a plurality of possible outcomes; awarding said player of said wagering game with a music award; and redeeming said music award for at least one music track.

10. The method of claim 9, wherein said awarding includes providing said player with a code to be used for downloading said at least one music track to a portable media recording device.

11. The method of claim 10, wherein said code is provided to said player at said gaming machine.

12. The method of claim 10, wherein said code is provided to said player via an electronic message on a device that is separate from said gaming machine.

13. The method of claim 9, wherein said awarding occurs in response to a signal that is generated in response to a signal input at a remote location.

14. The method of claim 13, wherein said awarding occurs as a result of game play at another gaming machine.

15. The method of claim 9, wherein said awarding occurs randomly while game play occurs at said gaming machine.

16. The method of claim 9, wherein said awarding occurs in response to said gaming machine being played at a predetermined rate of play, in response to said wager input equaling a certain minimum wager, in response to a predetermined number of credits being accumulated by said player at said gaming machine, or in response to a predetermined number of credits being played.

17. The method of claim 9, wherein said at least one music track is a single music track or a compilation of music tracks that is selected by said player.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein in addition to said at least one music track, said player may select a music video, a movie, or any combination thereof.

19. The method of claim 9, wherein said awarding occurs in response to said randomly selected outcome being an award-music outcome.

20. The method of claim 9, wherein said redeeming is performed at said gaming machine or remote from said gaming machine.

21. A computer readable storage medium encoded with instructions for directing a gaming device to perform the method of claim 9.

22. A method of conducting a wagering game on a gaming machine, the method comprising: receiving a wager input from a player at said gaming machine; displaying an outcome randomly selected from a plurality of possible outcomes; awarding said player an entertainment award; and redeeming said entertainment award at said gaming machine or remote from said gaming machine for entertainment selected from a group consisting of a music track, a compilation of music tracks, a music video and a movie.

Description:

COPYRIGHT

A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material which is subject to copyright protection: The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent files or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to gaming machines, and methods for playing wagering games, and more particularly, to a gaming machine that provides awards that are associated with music tracks or other kinds of entertainment and that are redeemable at the gaming machine or at locations remote from the gaming machine.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Gaming machines, such as slot machines, video poker machines and the like, have been a cornerstone of the gaming industry for several years. Generally, the popularity of such machines with players is dependent on the likelihood (or perceived likelihood) of winning money at the machine and the intrinsic entertainment value of the machine relative to other available gaming options. Where the available gaming options include a number of competing machines and the expectation of winning at each machine is roughly the same (or believed to be the same), players are likely to be attracted to the most entertaining and exciting machines. Shrewd operators consequently strive to employ the most entertaining and exciting machines, features, and enhancements available because such machines attract frequent play and hence increase profitability to the operator. Therefore, there is a continuing need for gaming machine manufacturers to continuously develop new games and improved gaming enhancements that will attract frequent play through enhanced entertainment value to the player.

One concept that has been successfully employed to enhance the entertainment value of a game is the concept of a “secondary” or “bonus” game that may be played in conjunction with a “basic” game. The bonus game may comprise any type of game, either similar to or completely different from the basic game, which is entered upon the occurrence of a selected event or outcome in the basic game. Generally, bonus games provide a greater expectation of winning than the basic game and may also be accompanied with more attractive or unusual video displays and/or audio. Bonus games may additionally award players with “progressive jackpot” awards that are funded, at least in part, by a percentage of coin-in from the gaming machine or a plurality of participating gaming machines. Because the bonus game concept offers tremendous advantages in player appeal and excitement relative to other known games, and because such games are attractive to both players and operators, there is a continuing need to develop gaming machines with new types of bonus games to satisfy the demands of players and operators.

Other gaming enhancements that provide entertainment value to the player include offering new and different awards and features, particularly awards and features that utilize new technologies and current entertainment trends. Such new awards and features may attract players who are interested in receiving awards other than traditional cash or credit awards and may further enhance player loyalty.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to one aspect of the present invention, a gaming machine comprises a value input device for receiving a wager from a player to play a wagering game and a display for displaying an outcome randomly selected from a plurality of possible outcomes. At least one of the outcomes is associated with an award that is redeemable by the player for a music track.

According to another aspect of the invention, a method of conducting a wagering game on a gaming machine comprises receiving a wager input from a player at the gaming machine and displaying an outcome randomly selected from a plurality of possible outcomes. The method further comprises awarding the player of the wagering game with a music award and redeeming the music award for at least one music track.

According to yet another aspect of the invention, a computer readable storage medium is encoded with instructions for directing a gaming device to perform the above method.

According to a further embodiment of the present invention, a method of conducting a wagering game on a gaming machine comprises receiving a wager input from a player at the gaming machine and displaying an outcome randomly selected from a plurality of possible outcomes. The method further comprises awarding the player an entertainment award and redeeming the entertainment award at the gaming machine or remote from the gaming machine for entertainment selected from a group consisting of a music track, a compilation of music tracks, a music video and a movie.

Additional aspects of the invention will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art in view of the detailed description of various embodiments, which is made with reference to the drawings, a brief description of which is provided below.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a gaming machine embodying the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a control system suitable for operating the gaming machine;

FIG. 3 illustrates a primary display that includes a basic game according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 illustrates the gaming machine of FIG. 1 including different embodiments for downloading to a portable media recording device.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

While this invention is susceptible of embodiment in many different forms, there is shown in the drawings and will herein be described in detail preferred embodiments of the invention with the understanding that the present disclosure is to be considered as an exemplification of the principles of the invention and is not intended to limit the broad aspect of the invention to the embodiments illustrated.

Referring to FIG. 1, a gaming machine 10 is used in gaming establishments such as casinos. With regard to the present invention, the gaming machine 10 may be any type of gaming machine and may have varying structures and methods of operation. For example, the gaming machine 10 may be an electromechanical gaming machine configured to play mechanical slots, or it may be an electronic gaming machine configured to play a video casino game, such as blackjack, slots, keno, poker, blackjack, roulette, etc.

The gaming machine 10 comprises a housing 12 and includes input devices, including a value input device 18 and a player input device 24. For output the gaming machine 10 includes a primary display 14 for displaying information about the basic wagering game. The primary display 14 can also display information about a bonus wagering game and a progressive wagering game. The gaming machine 10 may also include a secondary display 16 for displaying game events, game outcomes, and/or signage information. While these typical components found in the gaming machine 10 are described below, it should be understood that numerous other elements may exist and may be used in any number of combinations to create various forms of a gaming machine 10.

The value input device 18 may be provided in many forms, individually or in combination, and is preferably located on the front of the housing 12. The value input device 18 receives currency and/or credits that are inserted by a player. The value input device 18 may include a coin acceptor 20 for receiving coin currency (see FIG. 1). Alternatively, or in addition, the value input device 18 may include a bill acceptor 22 for receiving paper currency. Furthermore, the value input device 18 may include a ticket reader, or barcode scanner, for reading information stored on a credit ticket, a card, or other tangible portable credit storage device. The credit ticket or card may also authorize access to a central account, which can transfer money to the gaming machine 10.

The player input device 24 comprises a plurality of push buttons 26 on a button panel for operating the gaming machine 10. In addition, or alternatively, the player input device 24 may comprise a touch screen 28 mounted by adhesive, tape, or the like over the primary display 14 and/or secondary display 16. The touch screen 28 contains soft touch keys 30 denoted by graphics on the underlying primary display 14 and used to operate the gaming machine 10. The touch screen 28 provides players with an alternative method of input. A player enables a desired function either by touching the touch screen 28 at an appropriate touch key 30 or by pressing an appropriate push button 26 on the button panel. The touch keys 30 may be used to implement the same functions as push buttons 26. Alternatively, the push buttons 26 may provide inputs for one aspect of the operating the game, while the touch keys 30 may allow for input needed for another aspect of the game.

The various components of the gaming machine 10 may be connected directly to, or contained within, the housing 12, as seen in FIG. 1, or may be located outboard of the housing 12 and connected to the housing 12 via a variety of different wired or wireless connection methods. Thus, the gaming machine 10 comprises these components whether housed in the housing 12, or outboard of the housing 12 and connected remotely.

The operation of the basic wagering game is displayed to the player on the primary display 14. The primary display 14 can also display the bonus game associated with the basic wagering game. The primary display 14 may take the form of a cathode ray tube (CRT), a high resolution LCD, a plasma display, an LED, or any other type of display suitable for use in the gaming machine 10. As shown, the primary display 14 includes the touch screen 28 overlaying the entire display (or a portion thereof) to allow players to make game-related selections. Alternatively, the primary display 14 of the gaming machine 10 may include a number of mechanical reels to display the outcome in visual association with at least one payline 32. In the illustrated embodiment, the gaming machine 10 is an “upright” version in which the primary display 14 is oriented vertically relative to the player. Alternatively, the gaming machine 10 may be a “slant-top” version in which the primary display 14 is slanted at about a thirty-degree angle toward the player of the gaming machine 10.

A player begins play of the basic wagering game by making a wager via the value input device 18 of the gaming machine 10. A player can select play by using the player input device 24, via the buttons 26 or the touch screen keys 30. The basic game consists of a plurality of symbols arranged in an array, and includes at least one payline 32 that indicates one or more outcomes of the basic game. Such outcomes are randomly selected in response to the wagering input by the player. At least one of the plurality of randomly-selected outcomes may be a start-bonus outcome, which can include any variations of symbols or symbol combinations triggering a bonus game.

In some embodiments, the gaming machine 10 may also include a player information reader 52 that allows for identification of a player by reading a card with information indicating his or her true identity. The player information reader 52 may also allow for identification of a player's preferences as to certain types of gaming awards. The player information reader 52 is shown in FIG. 1 as a card reader, but may take on many forms including a ticket reader, bar code scanner, RFID transceiver or computer readable storage medium interface. Currently, identification is generally used by casinos for rewarding certain players with complimentary services or special offers. For example, a player may be enrolled in the gaming establishment's loyalty club and may be awarded certain complimentary services as that player collects points in his or her player-tracking account. The player inserts his or her card into the player information reader 52, which allows the casino's computers to register that player's wagering at the gaming machine 10. The gaming machine 10 may use the secondary display 16 or other dedicated player-tracking display for providing the player with information about his or her account or other player-specific information. Also, in some embodiments, the information reader 52 may be used to restore game assets that the player achieved and saved during a previous game session.

Turning now to FIG. 2, the various components of the gaming machine 10 are controlled by a central processing unit (CPU) 34, also referred to herein as a controller or processor (such as a microcontroller or microprocessor). To provide gaming functions, the controller 34 executes one or more game programs stored in a computer readable storage medium, in the form of memory 36. The controller 34 performs the random selection (using a random number generator (RNG)) of an outcome from the plurality of possible outcomes of the wagering game. Alternatively, the random event may be determined at a remote controller. The remote controller may use either an RNG or pooling scheme for its central determination of a game outcome. It should be appreciated that the controller 34 may include one or more microprocessors, including but not limited to a master processor, a slave processor, and a secondary or parallel processor.

The controller 34 is also coupled to the system memory 36 and a money/credit detector 38. The system memory 36 may comprise a volatile memory (e.g., a random-access memory (RAM)) and a non-volatile memory (e.g., an EEPROM). The system memory 36 may include multiple RAM and multiple program memories. The money/credit detector 38 signals the processor that money and/or credits have been input via the value input device 18. Preferably, these components are located within the housing 12 of the gaming machine 10. However, as explained above, these components may be located outboard of the housing 12 and connected to the remainder of the components of the gaming machine 10 via a variety of different wired or wireless connection methods.

As seen in FIG. 2, the controller 34 is also connected to, and controls, the primary display 14, the player input device 24, and a payoff mechanism 40. The payoff mechanism 40 is operable in response to instructions from the controller 34 to award a payoff to the player in response to certain winning outcomes that might occur in the basic game or the bonus game(s). The payoff may be provided in the form of points, bills, tickets, coupons, cards, etc. For example, in FIG. 1, the payoff mechanism 40 includes both a ticket printer 42 and a coin outlet 44. However, any of a variety of payoff mechanisms 40 well known in the art may be implemented, including cards, coins, tickets, smartcards, cash, etc. The payoff amounts distributed by the payoff mechanism 40 are determined by one or more pay tables stored in the system memory 36.

Communications between the controller 34 and both the peripheral components of the gaming machine 10 and external systems 50 occur through input/output (I/O) circuits 46, 48. More specifically, the controller 34 controls and receives inputs from the peripheral components of the gaming machine 10 through the input/output circuits 46. Further, the controller 34 communicates with the external systems 50 via the I/O circuits 48 and a communication path (e.g., serial, parallel, IR, RC, 10bT, etc.). The external systems 50 may include a gaming network, other gaming machines, a gaming server, communications hardware, or a variety of other interfaced systems or components. Although the I/O circuits 46, 48 may be shown as a single block, it should be appreciated that each of the I/O circuits 46, 48 may include a number of different types of I/O circuits.

Controller 34, as used herein, comprises any combination of hardware, software, and/or firmware that may be disposed or resident inside and/or outside of the gaming machine 10 that may communicate with and/or control the transfer of data between the gaming machine 10 and a bus, another computer, processor, or device and/or a service and/or a network. The controller 34 may comprise one or more controllers or processors. In FIG. 2, the controller 34 in the gaming machine 10 is depicted as comprising a CPU, but the controller 34 may alternatively comprise a CPU in combination with other components, such as the I/O circuits 46, 48 and the system memory 36.

The primary display 14 of one embodiment of the present invention is shown in more detail in FIG. 3. In this embodiment, the basic wagering game is a slot machine game, with symbols on the five reels 60, 62, 64, 66, 68. The reels 60, 62, 64, 66, 68 may be either traditional mechanical reels or they may be computer-generated images of reels, with each reel including a plurality of symbols. Upon receiving a wager input, the payline indicator(s) 70 indicates which paylines have been selected (i.e., activated) by the player. A randomly selected outcome from a plurality of outcomes is then indicated along the payline(s) in the form of a combination of symbols on the reels 60, 62, 64, 66, 68. An outcome indicator 71 may indicate whether the outcome has resulted in a winning outcome or a non-winning outcome. While the embodiment shown in FIG. 3 includes five reels, gaming machines having more or less than five reels are also contemplated by the present invention. It is also contemplated that the present invention could be used with gaming machines having other wagering games such as blackjack, slots, keno, poker, blackjack, roulette, or other video casino games.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 3, the basic wagering game includes different symbols and/or objects in a plurality of symbol locations on the reels 60, 62, 64, 66, 68. The symbols are in visual association with at least one active payline. In this particular embodiment, entitled “NAME THAT TUNE®,” the symbols include objects such as lucky sevens, bells, bonus symbols and music symbols. These symbols may vary from one embodiment to another. Other embodiments may include “HIT PARADE,” “AMERICAN BAND STAND®,” “SOUL TRAIN®,” “AMERICAN TOP 40®,” “CD:USA™,” “MTV®” or other music-themed embodiments. Some embodiments, for example, an MTV®-themed wagering game, could include decade-specific themed games where the music for each game would match the decade it represents. This may attract players who are particularly fond of a certain type of musical era. Additionally, the theme could be configurable (via download) such that a player may select a preferred genre or style of music to be included in the wagering game. The player may also be allowed to change the theme by selecting other genres or styles of music as the player continues playing the wagering game. However, the embodiments of the present invention are not limited to the particular themes described above or to the particular symbols shown in FIG. 3. Additionally, other embodiments of the present invention may include gaming machines 10 that do not feature music-themed wagering games.

Once a player places a wager, the randomly selected outcome is displayed via the primary display 14 on the reels 60, 62, 64, 66, 68. The symbols displayed on the reels 60, 62, 64, 66, 68 indicate the randomly selected outcome to the player. If a player achieves a winning outcome, the player may be awarded a monetary award, such as a credit award, or a non-monetary award, such as a number of free spins or the opportunity to play a bonus game. According to one embodiment of the present invention, the player may also be awarded a non-monetary award in the form of an entertainment award that may include, for example, a music award such as a music track or a compilation of music tracks, a music video, a movie, etc.

In the particular embodiment shown in FIG. 3, the player achieves a winning outcome in row 72. In some embodiments, a winning outcome may be indicated by a certain number of the same symbols along an active payline, a bonus symbol in combination with a certain number of same symbols, or other symbol combinations. In the primary display 14 depicted in FIG. 3, the player achieves a winning outcome in row 72 by achieving a bonus symbol 74 on reel 60 followed by four music symbols 76 on reels 62, 64, 66, 68. The four music symbols 76 in the embodiment depicted in FIG. 3 indicate that the player has achieved an award-music outcome and that the player may be awarded a music award.

According to one embodiment of the present invention, the music award may include an award from a plurality of music awards. For example, the player may be allowed to select a music award from a music-track list displayed on the primary display 14 or secondary display 16. The selected music track may be downloaded to a portable media recording device 80 (see FIG. 4), such as, but not limited to, for example, a MP3 player, an iPod®, a Jumpdrive® (i.e., a USB flash drive, also known as a pen drive, thumb drive, flash drive or USB key), a CompactFlash® (a small, removable storage device for use in pagers, handheld cameras, cellphones, digital cameras and audio players) and a SD Secure Digital™ card (a small memory card used to make storage portable among various devices, such as car navigation systems, cellular phones, eBooks, PDAs, smartphones, digital cameras, music players, camcorders, and personal computers). A player may also choose to create a compact disc having at least one music track that is selected by the player. The player may also be able to create a custom label on the compact disc which may include, for example, the name of the music track, the name of the player, casino logos, gaming machine logos (such as “WMS GAMING INC.”) or any combination thereof. In addition to achieving a winning combination that allows a player to download a single music track to the portable media recording device 80, the player may also be allowed to download more than one music track. The music track(s) may be selected by the player from a catalog of individual songs or an entire album of songs may be downloaded.

According to other embodiments, a player may be able to accumulate points or credits that can be “cashed in” for music awards at a later time so that the player can earn enough music awards to fill a compact disk or download a complete album. These banked points or credits can be saved on a ticket, coupon, voucher or card (shown as 78 in FIG. 4) that is issued by the gaming machine 10 from the ticket printer 42. Alternatively or additionally, the banked points or credits can also be saved on a player's identification card that has been input by the player into the player information reader 52. Furthermore, the banked points or credits can be used or redeemed at the same gaming machine 10, at a different gaming machine 10 or at a remote location designated by a casino for cashing in music awards for music tracks, such as a kiosk 84 or other computer terminal 86 (see FIG. 4). For the music award to be redeemed at the gaming machine 10, the gaming machine 10 must have music tracks either stored locally on the gaming device or via downloading from a media server 90, as discussed in more detail below and as shown in FIG. 4.

In addition to the above embodiments, the gaming machine 10 may also provide the player with a ticket, coupon, voucher or card (shown as 78 in FIG. 4) that contains a code that is associated with the music award(s) that have been earned by the player. Such a code may also be sent to the player as an electronic message, i.e., e-mail, via a device that is separate from the gaming machine 10 and that can be retrieved by the player. For example, an email containing a code associated with a music award(s) can be sent externally via the external system 50 and can be retrieved by the player via a Blackberry, personal computer, etc. The player could then redeem the code for a music track(s) or other entertainment award. A player may be able to redeem the code at the gaming machine 10, the kiosk 84, or the computer terminal 86 which may be located at the casino or at a remote location. In some embodiments, the player may be able to redeem the code at a web site accessible from a personal computer. For example, the code may be redeemable from an online music service, such as Napster or MP3.com. If the player is sent an electronic message, the gaming machine 10 may prompt the player to enter an e-mail address to which the gaming machine 10 would send the code. Alternatively, the information may already be available to the gaming machine 10 via a player tracking system. In this case, a player need not enter an email address if such information is available in the player's player tracking account.

A separate portable media recording device 80 for interfacing with the gaming machine 10 to download one or more music tracks is shown in FIG. 4. In this embodiment, the portable media recording device 80 is connected to a USB port 82 located on the gaming machine 10. The player may be allowed to download music tracks to the portable media recording device 80, such as a MP3 player, an iPod®, compact disk, Jumpdrive®, CompactFlash®, SD Secure Digital™ card or other suitable media recording device, from the gaming machine 10. As described above, the gaming machine 10 may allow a player to have an image written directly to, for example, the surface of a compact disk to create a label using the same laser that is used to burn the digital music track. Further information concerning the ability to burn labels directly to the surface of a compact disk is available at http://www.lightscribe.com. The image may be configured by the player from a group of selectable images or may be designed by the player himself. Furthermore, the image may include the list of music tracks that were downloaded by the player, the casino logo or the logo or name of the gaming machine developer, i.e., WMS GAMING INC. A jewel case or sleeve may also be provided to a player who has downloaded one or more music tracks.

As described above and shown in FIG. 4, the gaming machine 10 may be connected to or in communication with a media server 90 having access to a database of music tracks in the form of electronic files of songs that can be downloaded to the portable media recording device 80. The media server 90 may obtain the music tracks from stored memory containing electronic files of downloadable music tracks. Additionally or alternatively, the media server 90 may obtain the music tracks from a music sharing service such as Napster or MP3.com.

Access to the media server 90 may be obtained via the gaming machine 10 or via a kiosk 84 located in the casino or remotely. The media server 90 may download music tracks to the gaming machine 10 to be stored locally on the gaming machine 10 as needed. The music tracks may then be downloaded by a player to the portable media recording device 80. In some embodiments, the downloading from the gaming machine 10 to the portable recording device 80 may occur as the player continues to play the wagering game.

Alternatively or additionally, as described above, the player may be issued a ticket, coupon, voucher or card 78 from the ticket printer 42 that can be redeemed at the kiosk 84 (shown by the dotted line in FIG. 4) by inserting the ticket, coupon, voucher or card 78 into the kiosk 84 and downloading the selected music track(s) to the portable media recording device 80 via a USB port 82 located on the kiosk 84. The media server 90 may also be accessed via a computer terminal 86, located either at the casino or at a remote location. For example, the computer terminal 86 may be available for a player to use to download music tracks while in the casino or the computer terminal 86 may be a personal computer that a player uses while in a hotel room, at home, etc. to download music tracks based on earlier play at the casino. Thus, a player may be able to receive a music award that can be downloaded via his or her personal computer without having to be physically present in the casino. Other methods for accessing the media server 90 are also contemplated and can be used with the present invention.

In addition to being awarded a music award by achieving a winning combination of symbols, a player may also be awarded a music award based on other gaming criteria. Instead of winning a music award based on a certain game outcome, a player may be awarded a music award in response to a signal that is generated in response to a signal input at a remote location. The signal input may occur based on the result of game play at another gaming machine 10. For example, if one gaming machine 10 provides a substantial award, surrounding gaming machines may award a music award as a consolation award.

Music awards may also be awarded randomly during game play at the gaming machine 10 or in response to certain gaming criteria that is met. For example, music awards may be awarded in response to a player playing the gaming machine 10 at a predetermined rate of play, i.e., four plays per minute. The rate of play may be the threshold above which a player must play to qualify for the music award, while the actual awarding of the music award may depend on other criteria, such as a timer, a random number generator, etc. Music awards may also be awarded after a certain number of credits has been played, such as after every $20 of played credits, or in response to a wager input equaling a certain minimum wager. Music awards may also be awarded in response to an initial deposit of cash or credit, such as an initial deposit of at least $20 into the gaming machine 10. Furthermore, music awards may be awarded in response to a credit balance reaching a predetermined value, i.e., $20 on the credit meter, either as the result of cash deposited by the player or by receiving awards based on the player achieving winning combinations of symbols, or a combination of the two.

In addition to winning music awards, a player may also be awarded other entertainment awards, such as a music video or a movie. In some embodiments, the music video or movie may also be downloaded to the media recording device 80 via the gaming machine 10, the kiosk 84, or the computer terminal 86. Other awards may include other downloadable items, such as cell phone ring tones, that may also be downloaded at the gaming machine 10, the kiosk 84, or the computer terminal 86, as well as at a gaming web site, such as the WMS Gaming web site. In yet other embodiments, if the player is awarded a music award or other entertainment award and does not wish to redeem the award, he or she may exchange the award for cash or additional credits.

In yet further embodiments, if the player can be identified at the gaming machine 10 (for example, through a card inserted into the player identification reader 52), the player's preferences as to a particular genre of music, an artist, an album, etc. may be identified so that it is known what type of music the player would prefer to download before he or she begins playing the wagering game. Additionally or alternatively, as the game begins and the reels are spinning, the player can answer questions about his or her music preferences, particularly in the case where the player is not identified through a tracking card. This preselection of music preferences allows a player to spend less time deciding which music track to select (if the player achieves a winning outcome) and more time playing the wagering game itself. This helps to increase the coin-in to the gaming machine 10.

It is also contemplated in some embodiments that different outcomes will provide different possible downloads. For example, if the gaming machine 10 receives information that the player prefers to download music tracks from a particular artist or musical group, such as the Beatles, Tom Petty or Everclear, then one outcome may allow a player the opportunity to download a Beatles album. By contrast, a second outcome may allow a player to download a music track from Tom Petty. Thus, a player's music preferences can be made known at the gaming machine 10 and can be associated with winning outcomes. In some embodiments, a player's music preferences can be made known before the player even gets to the casino. For example, a player may be able to fill out a questionnaire that allows the player to indicate personal preferences as to particular music genres, such as pop or classical music, a particular musical era, such as big band music of the 1930's or disco music of the 1970's, or any other similar information. This information, when made known to the gaming establishment, will allow a gaming machine 10 to narrow a player's choices of music tracks from an entire selection of music tracks and will reduce the time needed for players to make a selection.

In yet other embodiments, the gaming machine 10 may include a microphone to be used in connection with a voice activation feature. For example, the gaming machine 10 may prompt a player to select a music track by asking the player for his or her selection via the voice activation feature and then providing the desired selection based on the player's voice response. This may also allow a player to make faster selections and thereby increase coin-in to the gaming machine 10.

Furthermore, as the present invention is described in terms of the basic wagering game, it is also contemplated that the present invention may be used in a bonus game setting. For example, upon achieving a start-bonus-outcome in the basic wagering game, a player may be given a chance to win music awards in a bonus game.

Each of these embodiments and obvious variations thereof is contemplated as falling within the spirit and scope of the claimed invention, which is set forth in the following claims.