Title:
Game piece including a random outcome generator
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A game piece used in playing a game includes a depiction of a character and a random outcome generator attached to the depiction of the character.



Inventors:
Andersen, Jacob R. S. (Hong Kong, CN)
Application Number:
11/894438
Publication Date:
02/28/2008
Filing Date:
08/21/2007
Assignee:
Home Focus Development Limited, a corp. of the British Virgin Islands, TrustNet Chambers Limited (Tortola, VG)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F3/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MENDIRATTA, VISHU K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MR. JACOB R. S. ANDERSEN (SAN PO KONG, KOWLOON, HK)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A game piece, comprising: a means for representing a player within a play environment; and a random outcome generator attached to the means for representing a player.

2. The game piece according to claim 1, wherein the random outcome generator in a spinner.

3. The game piece according to claim 2, wherein the spinner comprises a disk rotatably secured to the means for representing a player.

4. The game piece according to claim 3, wherein the spinner comprises a second disk having indicia of random numbers.

5. The game piece according to claim 2, wherein the random outcome generator comprises a housing having a disk rotatably mounted therein.

6. The game piece according to claim 1, wherein the random outcome generator is electronic.

7. The game piece according to claim 6, wherein the random outcome generator includes a means for including a previously generated random outcome in a calculation of a random outcome.

8. The game piece according to claim 7, wherein the previously generated random outcome is a random outcome generated by the same game piece.

9. The game piece according to claim 7, wherein the previously generated random outcome is a random outcome that is generated by another game piece.

10. The game piece according to claim 6, wherein the random outcome generator includes means for including a position on a playmat in a calculation of a random outcome.

11. The game piece according to claim 6, wherein the random outcome generator includes a means for transmitting a random outcome to an internet website.

12. The game piece according to claim 11, wherein the means for transmitting the random outcome to an Internet website includes a webcam.

13. The game piece according to claim 1, wherein the means for representing a player within the play environment include a statue.

14. The game piece according to claim 13, wherein the statue depicts a character or a vehicle.

15. The game piece according to claim 1, further comprising a speaker operatively connected to the random outcome generator for communicating a random outcome.

16. The game piece according to claim 1, further comprising a visual display operatively connected to the random outcome generator for communicating a random outcome.

17. The game piece according to claim 1, wherein the random outcome generator is structured to generate a random number.

18. The game piece according to claim 1, wherein the random outcome generator is structured to generate a set of instructions.

19. A method of playing a game, comprising: providing at least one game piece having a random outcome generator disposed therein or thereon; generating a random outcome; and manipulating the game piece according to the random outcome.

20. The method according to claim 19, wherein generating a random outcome includes basing the random outcome on a previously generated random outcome.

21. The method according to claim 20, wherein the previously generated random outcome was generated by the same game piece.

22. The method according to claim 20, wherein the previously generated random outcome was generated by a different game piece.

23. The method according to claim 19, wherein generating a random outcome includes basing the random outcome on a position of the game piece on a playmat.

24. The method according to claim 19, further comprising communicating the random outcome to an Internet website.

25. The method according to claim 19, wherein the random outcome is a random number.

26. The method according to claim 19, wherein the random outcome is a set of instructions.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION

This patent application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/839,160, filed Aug. 22, 2006. This earlier provisional application is hereby incorporated by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

This disclosure relates to games involving random outcomes. More specifically, I provide a random outcome generator as part of the game piece.

BACKGROUND

Numerous games include the use of a random outcome generator, with manipulation of various game pieces performed according to the outcome determined by the random outcome generator. Examples of prior random outcome generators include spinners, dice, and cards that must be drawn from a deck, having instructions printed thereon. The outcome may include moving a game piece a specified number of spaces on a playmat, imposing a penalty on an opposing player that decreases the opposing player's chances of winning the game, for example, moving the opposing player's game piece back a certain number of spaces on a playmat, or reducing the opposing player's “lives” or some other measure of ability to survive within the game, or increasing one's own “powers,” other abilities, weapons, extra “lives” or some other measure of increased ability to survive within the game.

Other presently available random outcome generators include software algorithm for generating “random” numbers, which must be run on some type of computer or microprocessor. One presently available set of dice includes a display screen on one face and an impact sensor on the opposing face, so that when the impact sensor is struck, the display screen randomly displays a number of dots corresponding to the traditional one to six dots on a traditional die. The number of options for game play could be expanded by including random number generators within individual game pieces.

SUMMARY

I provide a game piece providing both a means of representing a player within the play environment, and a random number generator attached thereto.

I further provide a method of playing a game, wherein the manipulation of each game piece is determined by a random outcome generator disposed on or within the game piece.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For the purpose of illustration, there is shown in the drawings a form which is presently preferred; it being understood, that my game pieces are not limited to the precise arrangements and instrumentalities shown.

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of a front panel of a statue.

FIG. 2 is a side perspective view of a side panel of a statue.

FIG. 3 is a top perspective view of a disk for a game piece.

FIG. 4 is a top perspective view of a game piece.

FIG. 5 is an environmental, perspective view of a game piece.

FIG. 6 is a front perspective view of another game piece.

FIG. 7 is a partially exploded, partially schematic view of the game piece of FIG. 6.

FIG. 8 is a front perspective view of a random outcome generator for the game piece of FIG. 6, showing the actuator in its rest position.

FIG. 9 is a front perspective view of a random outcome generator for a game piece of FIG. 6, showing the actuator in its actuation position.

FIG. 10 is an exploded view of a game piece.

FIG. 11 is a front perspective view of the game piece of FIG. 10.

FIG. 12 is an environmental, perspective view of a game piece of FIG. 10.

FIG. 13 is an environmental, perspective view of a game piece of FIG. 10.

FIG. 14 is a front perspective view of another game piece.

FIG. 15 is an environmental, perspective view of a pair of game pieces.

FIG. 16 is an environmental, perspective view of a pair of game pieces, being utilized for playing the game.

FIG. 17 is an environmental, perspective view of another game piece.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the figures, in which like reference numerals indicate like elements, there are shown examples of embodiments of the game piece.

I provide a game piece having a means of representing a player within a play environment, which may be an identifying color or shape, or which may include a depiction of a character thereon, with a random outcome generator attached to the depiction of the character. For the purpose of this description, a random outcome need not be purely random, but must merely have the appearance of randomness to a player. Random outcomes may include outcomes selected from a limited set of possible outcomes, outcomes generated by algorithms that are not truly random, and outcomes generated by algorithms or procedures that give different probabilities to different possible outcomes based on past outcomes or otherwise based on the rules of the game. A game piece is defined as any object depicting a fanciful representation of a character, vehicle, or other thing that is manipulated by a player during game play, and may include a playing card, a game card representing a character, or a two-dimensional or three-dimensional statue. More than one game piece may represent a single player.

A game piece can be made in any suitable shape, for example in the shape of a stylized human being or animal, robot, military vehicle or aircraft, spacecraft, or in a fanciful shape. The game pieces can also be made in the likeness (including a caricature) of an actual sports or military figures. The game pieces can also comprise one or more colors, designs or indicia indicating the army, team or side to which the piece belongs. Such colors, designs or indicia can be those associated with actual armies, sports teams or sports or military figures.

A game piece can be any suitable size which allows a person to play the game, which can be readily determined by one skilled in the art. For example, the game piece can be from about 20 mm to about 45 mm in height, from about 15 mm to about 30 mm in length (i.e., from left to right sides), and from about 10 mm to about 25 mm in depth (i.e., from front to back). An exemplary game piece can be about 35 mm in height, about 27 mm in length, and about 21 mm in depth. Greater or lesser values are contemplated for the height, length and breadth of the player pieces.

The game pieces can be provided in any suitable number depending on the activity (e.g., combat or team sport) to be simulated, but at least two game pieces should be provided (e.g., one player per army, side or team). For example, soccer is played with two sides of eleven players—traditionally a goalkeeper, two fullbacks, three halfbacks, and five forwards. In an embodiment of the present game which simulates soccer, two sides of at least eleven game pieces can be provided for a total of 22 pieces, representing two opposing soccer teams. American football also has two sides of eleven players, and ice hockey has six players a side. Thus, my game simulating American football would also provide two sets of at least eleven game pieces (for a total of 22 pieces), and my game simulating ice hockey would provide two sets of at least six game pieces (for a total of twelve pieces). Any number of additional game pieces can be provided in my game, where the additional pieces can represent extra players for a given team or side. For example, for my game simulating soccer, each team or side could comprise about 12, about 13, about 14 or more pieces.

A plurality of game pieces constituting at least two armies, or for example three, four, five or more armies, can also be provided. An army can comprise any number of game pieces, for example about 10, about 20, about 50 or about 100 or more game pieces.

Game pieces may include characteristics such as patterns of movement to which the game pieces are limited, strength, life remaining within the character represented by the game piece, weapons, spells, or other powers or abilities that may be utilized by the character represented by the game piece, or other capabilities of the character represented by the game piece that must be taken into account during play of the game, and that contribute to the advantage or lack thereof within the game. Characteristics of the game pieces may be depicted in various manners, for example, a picture of a character on a game card or a two-dimensional panel, a three-dimensional statue, or by written information provided on the game piece. Additionally, characteristics may be taken into account within some embodiments of the random outcome generator as explained in greater detail below.

One example of a game piece 10 is illustrated in FIGS. 1-5. The game piece 10 includes a statue 12 depicting a character that is used within the game. The statue includes a front panel 14 defining a slot 16 therein. In the illustrated example, the slot 16 extends from the bottom of the panel 14 about half way of the length of the panel 14. The statue 12 also includes a side panel 18, defining a slot 29 therein. The slot 20 in the illustrated example extends from the top of the side panel 20 down about half the length of the side panel 20. The side panel 18 further includes a dart 22 extending from its bottom end 34, having a point 24 and a pair of barbs 26.

A disk 28 includes an aperture 30 structured to receive the dart 22. The disk includes indicia 32 corresponding to various possible random outcomes, which in the illustrated example are random numbers. The disk 28 further includes a straight side edge 33 corresponding to each of the indicia 32.

The game piece 10 may be provided in the form of three pop-out sections of a single piece of paperboard, and is assembled by first positioning the bottom end of the slot 16 adjacent to the top end of the slot 20, and then pushing the front panel 14 down over the side panel 18, until the top and bottom of each of the front panel 14 and side panel 18 are substantially in registry with each other. The dart 22 may then be pushed through the aperture 30 until the barbs 26 engage the disk 28. In use, the game piece 10 may be spun on the point 24 of the dart 22, essentially like a top. When the game piece 10 loses its rotational momentum to the point where it falls, it will fall on one of the sides 33, corresponding to one of the indicia 32. The game piece 10 may then be manipulated according to the randomly selected indicia 32 upon which it lands.

Another example of a game piece 36 is illustrated in FIGS. 6-9. The game piece 36 includes a statue 38 which in the illustrated example is a three-dimensional statue representing a character. The statue is disposed upon a base 40, having a substantially flat top wall 42 and bottom wall 44, and a substantially cylindrical side wall 46. A window 48 is defined within the top wall 42, and a slot 50 is defined within the side wall 46, for receiving an actuator 52 therein.

A disk 54 is disposed within the base 40. The disk 54 includes indicia 56 indicating various random outcomes, which in the illustrated example are random numbers. The disk 54 is structured so that sliding the actuator 52 from one end of the slot 50 to the other will rotate the disk 54. When the disk 54 stops rotating, one of the indicia 56 disposed about the periphery of the top surface 42 may be displayed through the window 48. The game piece 36 may then be manipulated according to this random outcome.

Yet another example of the game piece 58 is illustrated in FIGS. 10-13. The game piece 58 includes a statue 60 which, in the illustrated example, is a two-dimensional panel having a picture of a character thereon. A peg 62 extends from the bottom of the statue 60, where it may be received from the hole 64 defined within the base 66. The base 66 is substantially disk-shaped, and includes indicia 68 about the periphery of its top surface. The indicia 68 correspond to various random outcomes, which in the illustrated example are random numbers. In the illustrated example, the peg 62 and hole 64 are rectangular, thereby resisting rotation between the base 66 and statue 60.

A spinner 70 is rotatably secured between the statue 60 and the base 66 by a hole 72 through which the peg 62 passes. The base further includes a pointer 74, which in the illustrated example includes a pair of projections defining a v-shape therebetween. In use, a player may spin the spinner 70, causing the spinner 70 to spin until friction brings it to a stop, at which point one of the indicia 68 will typically be disposed within the v-shape defined by the pointer 74. The game piece 58 may then be manipulated according to this random outcome.

The player game piece can be fabricated from any suitably rigid material, such as heavy gauge paper or cardboard, woods, metals, plastics, rubbers or synthetic resins, as are known in the art, by standard techniques for producing toy game pieces or figures. For example, the player game piece can be fabricated by injection molding from material such as acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene terpolymer (ABS), or a polycarbonate and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene terpolymer blend (PC/ABS).

Referring to FIG. 14, another embodiment of the game piece 76 is illustrated. The game piece 76 includes a statue 78, which in the illustrated example is a three-dimensional representation of a character. The statue 78 is disposed upon a random outcome generator 80. The random outcome generator 80 includes a microprocessor with a structure to execute a random number generating algorithm, and then to display a random outcome based on the random number generated. The outcome may be the random number itself, or alternatively, may be instructions that are selected based on the random number that is generated. The random outcome generator 80 includes an actuator 82, which activates the random number generator 80 when depressed or otherwise manipulated. The random outcome generator 80 may further include a display 84, and/or a speaker 86, for communicating the randomly generated outcome.

The game piece can further comprise at least one sound generating mechanism supported by the housing. The sound generating mechanism can comprise any electronic or non-electronic sound generator, such as are known in the art. Suitable sound generators include devices comprising a printed circuit board (“PCB”) connected to a speaker, in which the PCB controls the type, loudness, and frequency of the generated sound, such as are known in the art. It is contemplated that the electronic sound generating device can be programmable or capable of transmitting and receiving and/or storing electronic data, such as computer program code for generating sounds. Non-electronic sound generating mechanisms include horns, buttons or other noisemakers which rely, for example, on the expulsion of air through a hole or narrow channel, or the movement or air across a reed, membrane or the like.

Electronics suitable for use in the sound generating mechanism can include a power source box or battery box supported by the housing, for containing batteries or other suitable power source. Suitable wires can be used to couple operable components such as switches, PCB and speaker. These components can be supported by the housing. Some or all of the power source can optionally be removable, so that the consumer can replace or renew the power source when desired. The generated random number or the instructions that result from a random number, may therefore be communicated either visually or audibly, depending on the nature of the game. The game piece 76 may then be manipulated based on the randomly generated outcome.

The random number generator 80 may, in generating a specific random outcome, take into account a previously generated random outcome. For example, if a previously generated random outcome resulted in the acquisition of a weapon, extra lives, or other advantage within the game, a subsequent generation of a random outcome may take this advantage into account by increasing the probability of a more favorable outcome upon a subsequent random outcome generation.

Referring to FIG. 15, a pair of game pieces 76 are illustrated. Each of the game pieces 88 includes a statue 90, which in the illustrated example is a three-dimensional representation of a character. The statue 90 is disposed on a random outcome generator 92, having an actuator 94 and a display 96 and/or a speaker 98.

As before, the random outcome generator 92 includes a microprocessor that is structured to generate a random number, and then to generate a random outcome based on the random number that is generated. The random outcome may be the random number itself, or may be alternatively a set of instructions that is communicated visually or audibly, and which is selected based on the random number generated. The random outcome generator 92 further includes a means for communicating with the random outcome generator 92 of the other game piece 88. Such communication rules are well-known in the art, and may include, for example, radio frequency or infrared communication. Communication between the two random outcome generators allows one of the random outcome generators 92 to use as one of the inputs to its random number generating algorithm the randomly generated outcome that was previously generated by the other of the two random outcome generators. For example, if one of the game pieces 88 is played in a manner that comprises striking a blow to the other game piece 88, and the random outcome generator 92 of the first game piece 88 indicates that the blow was successful, then the random outcome generator 92 of the other game piece 88 may decrease the probability of a successful counter attack, thereby simulating decreased strength of the second game piece 88. Alternatively, if the random outcome generator 92 of the first game piece 88 indicates that the blow missed its intended target, then the random outcome generator 92 of the second game piece 88 may increase the probability of a successful counter attack based on the opportunity created by the initial attack.

Referring to FIG. 16, a pair of game pieces 88 are illustrated in play on a playmat 100. The playmat 100 may include spaces 102 wherein the game piece 88 may be placed, and/or various other characteristics of the simulated play environment such as obstacles 104. The image of the game pieces 88 on the playmat 100 may be recorded by an imaging device 106 connected to a computer 108.

My game can be played on any generally planar playing surface, such as a floor, table top, desktop, and the like. The playing surface is preferably smooth enough so that the toys can move unimpeded during game play. Alternatively, the playing surface can be uneven or multi-leveled.

My game optionally comprises one or more game boards which are marked or otherwise carry indicia which simulate, for example, battle fields or fields of play for one or more team sports. It is understood that the markings or indicia which simulate a battle field or field of play on a game board can include rear areas, sideline areas or other areas where individuals not actively participating in the group activity would be located. One skilled in the art is familiar with the relative dimensions and configurations of fields of play for team sports, and can readily adapt such dimensions and configurations into a game board.

In addition to any markings or indicia which indicate the field of play, a game board can also comprise regular markings which indicate spaces or distances through which a toy can be moved in a given turn during game play, or obstacles impeding the movement of toys. For example, a game board can comprise a grid of regular squares or hash marks which dictate the extent to which a toy can be moved during game play. My game board (e.g., representing a battle field) can comprise mobile or random-appearing obstacle or target. For example, such a game board can comprise flat “pop-up” targets representing opponents, which appear at random intervals and/or locations during game play. Such “pop-up” targets can be controlled by electronics such as are described above, as is known in the art.

A game board can be fabricated from any suitably smooth and rigid material, such as heavy gauge paper or cardboard, woods, metals, plastics, rubbers or synthetic resins, as are known in the art, by standard techniques. A game board can comprise colors, designs or indicia in addition to those which mark the field of play, for example which are associated with a particular army, team or league that engages in the group activity being simulated. A game board can also comprise structures which can be attached to or placed on the game board, representing obstacles, geographic features, seats, score boards, goals or goal posts and the like. A game board may be placed on any flat surface, or may be supported by a frame or by legs, during play.

The game can also comprise other items, such as a foldable housing to contain the playing pieces and game board (if present) when not in use, scorecards or other devices to record game statistics and results, candy or gum, electronic devices (such as for producing light and sound effects or play-by-play announcements during game play), a timing device, stickers or the like for decorating the game pieces and/or game board, and promotional items such as contests or lotteries and team or league paraphernalia.

An imaging device 106 may be used to capture information such as the location of each game piece 88 on the playmate 100, and/or the random outcomes generated by each game piece 88. The imaging device 106 can comprise any device which is capable of capturing and transmitting information to a computer network in a form that the network can receive, optionally decode, and process. It is contemplated that both digital and analog images can be transmitted by the imaging device. Suitable imaging devices include digital cameras adapted for connection to personal computers (e.g., through a USB or similar data transmission port or by wireless communication), such as are commonly called “webcams.” Typically, the computer and/or webcam comprises software which periodically or continually acquires video images (e.g., still frames) from the webcam and converts the images into a JPG, TIFF or other similar type image file.

Suitable software for acquiring and transmitting images from a webcam to a computer are known in the art, and can generally be found on the Internet. For example, software called “Webcam32” is available online from Surveyor Corporation.

Generally, webcams and other suitable imaging devices can be connected to a computer by a cable, such as through a USB or other data transmission port, or by a wireless connection such as a radio frequency link, infra-red, “blue-tooth,” and the like.

Suitable webcams include Intel PC Camera Pro Pack (USB) available from Intel Corp., the CAM-330L Cute Mini Web Camera with 32 MB RAM available from Comix International Co. Ltd. (Taipei, Taiwan), and the KS-608 Compact Web Camera with Image Sensors available from Techmakers Electronics Ltd. (Kowloon, Hong Kong).

Webcams for use with the present method can have any suitable memory, resolution, optics, video format, focus range, power supply, connectivity and the like to allow the webcam to capture and transmit images to a computer. For example, a suitable webcam can have a 300-350k pixel CMOS sensor, a USB interface connection with PC/notebook host, video mode up to 30 fps at CIF, and an adjustable plastic lens to control the clarity of the image. The webcam can also be any size, but is generally dimensioned to easily fit within a typical retail food, candy or toy package. For example, the webcam can be about 50 mm wide, about 70 mm in height and about 60 mm in depth, and may include a stand. Webcams of greater and lesser dimensions can also be used.

The imaging device can also comprise stand-alone digital still or video cameras, or digital still or video cameras contained in cellular telephones or other electronic devices. For example, game information can be captured by a digital camera in a cellular telephone, and transmitted to a computer via wireless communication from the telephone (such as by e-mail).

The imaging device can also comprise an apparatus, component or other means for reading game information which is not necessarily visible to the unaided human eye. For example, the imaging device can be equipped to read infra-red or ultraviolet light, or the like, which is emitted or reflected from a substrate holding the game information. The substrate holding the game information can contain an apparatus, component or other means for emitting signals such as infra-red or ultraviolet light, or the like so that Alternatively, the imaging device can comprise an apparatus, component or other means for emitting signals such as infra-red or ultraviolet light, or the like so that such signals are reflected from the game information in a manner which can be detected by the imaging device. For example, the imaging device can emit ultra-violet or “black” light, which is reflected from certain material comprising the game information. The reflected ultraviolet light can then be recorded and transmitted by the imaging device.

During play, the imaging device may read the position of the game pieces 88 on the playmat 100, along with the specific characteristics of the game pieces 88. The imaging device 106 may be structured to capture information about the random outcomes generated by the random outcome generators 92 of each of the game pieces 88, possibly by structuring the display 96 of each game piece 88 so that it may easily be read by the imaging device 106. The information read by the imaging device 106 may then be transmitted to a computer 108 or a set of instructions for continued game play may be generated, and/or various characteristics resulting in an advantage during game play may be added to or subtracted from the game pieces 88. Information about the status of the game may be stored on the computer 108 or on the internet website, so that play may be stopped and resumed at the same point.

Referring to FIG. 17, yet another embodiment of the game piece 110 is illustrated. The game piece 110 includes a pressure sensor 112, and an output device such as the illustrated speaker 114, or alternatively a visual display. When the device is thrown against a hard surface, the pressure sensor 112 will register the impact, causing a random outcome generator therein to generate a random outcome, which is transmitted by the speaker 114. The random outcome generator of the game piece 110 may be similar to the random outcome generator 92 described above. The game piece 110 may include memory for remembering the random outcome generated by a previous throw, using this outcome to determine the probabilities of various other outcomes upon the next subsequent throw.

A game piece therefore provides an individual random outcome generator attached to each individual game piece. Different random outcome generators, with different sets of outcomes and different probabilities assigned to each outcome, may therefore be included with game pieces having different characteristics. Additionally, the random outcome generator may utilize previously generated random outcomes, either from the same piece or from other pieces, to determine the probabilities associated with each possible outcome in the next subsequent random outcome generation. These capabilities provide for significantly greater options in the manner in which various games may be played.

A variety of modifications to the embodiments described will be apparent to those skilled in the art from the disclosure provided herein. Thus, the game piece may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit or essential attributes thereof and, accordingly, reference should be made to the appended claims, rather than to the foregoing specification, as indicating the scope of the game piece.