Title:
HANGMAN GAME APPARATUS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A game apparatus for playing hangman, the game apparatus includes a game body and a display that is coupled to the game body and operable to depict at least progress of the game while the game is being played. Further, a display element is provided in the display, wherein the display element is activated to indicate the progress of the game while the game is being played. Also, a counter is coupled to the game body and is operable to display a number of remaining turns for at least one player while the game is being played. Moreover, an activator is coupled to the body and operable to adjust the counter in response to the at least one player's progress in the game.



Inventors:
Le Cottier, Aymeric (Hong Kong, CN)
Application Number:
11/961427
Publication Date:
06/25/2009
Filing Date:
12/20/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F3/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PIERCE, WILLIAM M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
OSTROLENK FABER LLP (NEW YORK, NY, US)
Claims:
1. A game apparatus for playing hangman, the game apparatus comprising: a game body; a plurality of letter elements which are to be guessed, the letter elements being hidden from a player or exposed to a player's view; a display coupled to the game body and operable to depict at least progress of the hangman game while being played; a plurality of display elements in the display, wherein the display elements collectively represent a human figure in a gallows and the individual display elements are activated to indicate the progress of the hangman game while being played; and a control for selectively activating the display elements as the game progresses and further comprising a letter support for carrying the plurality of letter elements, wherein the letter elements are adjustable in the support to be hidden from a player and exposed to a player's view.

2. The game apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a counter operable to track a number of remaining turns for at least one player while the game is being played.

3. The game apparatus of claim 2, wherein the counter is further operable to pre-set a number of wrong guesses that the at least one player may make.

4. The game apparatus of claim 2, further comprising an activator coupled to the game body, wherein the activator is operable to adjust the counter in response to the at least one player's progress in the game, including to increase or decrease the number.

5. The game apparatus of claim 1, further comprising at least one button element and an audio element coupled to the body, wherein the audio element is operable by the at least one button element to emit a sound in response to the at least one button element being pressed by a player.

6. The game apparatus of claim 1, wherein the display elements include at least one from the group consisting of light emitting diodes, picture elements and light bulbs.

7. (canceled)

8. The game apparatus of claim 1, further comprising the letter elements comprising letter blocks provided with respective letters, and the letter support comprises a rack at the body, wherein the rack has cavities operable to receive the letter blocks in the cavities.

9. The game apparatus of claim 8, wherein the rack is detachable and reattachable to the body.

10. The game apparatus of any claim 8, further comprising a recess in the body operable to hold the letter blocks.

11. The game apparatus of claim 8, wherein the letter blocks are supported in the rack to rotate therein between the hidden and exposed conditions.

12. The game apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a score recorder coupled to the body and operable to record a player's score during the game.

13. The game apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a timer coupled to the body and operable to time the length of a player's turn or the length of a game.

14. The game apparatus of claim 13, wherein the timer illuminates when activated, and flashes prior to expiration of the length of the player's turn or the length of the game.

15. The game apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a memory and a keypad coupled to the memory and operable by a player to enter a word or enter a guess in the memory.

16. The game apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a memory having a dictionary electronically stored therein, and the memory is operable to generate a word for use during play of the game.

17. A method for playing a word guessing game between two players, the method comprising the steps of: a) selecting a word by a first player and keeping the word secret from a second player; b) selecting letter elements, wherein each of the letter elements includes a respective letter that is included in the selected word; d) guessing a letter by the second player; e) repositioning each selected letter element that corresponds to the guessed letter to enable the second player to see each of the repositioned letter elements; f) illuminating at least one of a plurality of display elements if the selected letter elements do not include the guessed letter; and g) repeating steps d) through f) until either the second player has guessed all of the letters in the selected word, or until all of the plurality of display elements are activated.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein each letter element comprises a letter block, and further comprising the steps of: h) prior to step d), inserting the letter blocks in a letter block rack while keeping the letters secret from the second player; and i) after step h), positioning the letter blocks in the letter block rack so that all of the letter blocks are positioned to prevent the second player from seeing the letters included in the letter blocks.

19. The method of claim 18, further comprising, after step b), c) positioning the selected letter elements to prevent the second player from seeing the letters included in the letter elements; and in step e) the repositioning is of each selected letter block in the rack.

20. The method of claim 18, wherein the positioning and repositioning of the letter blocks is by rotating the letter blocks in the rack.

21. The method of claim 18, further comprising detaching the letter block rack from the game body prior to inserting the letter blocks in the letter block rack, and attaching the letter block rack to the game body after the letter blocks are inserted in the letter block rack.

22. The method of claim 18, further comprising: pressing a first button by the first player when the letter guessed by the second player is included in at least one of the letter blocks in the letter block rack; causing a first audible sound to emit from an audio element in the game body when the first button is pressed; pressing a second button by the first player when the letter guessed by the second player is not included in the letter blocks in the letter block rack; and causing a second audible sound to emit from an audio element in the game body when the second button is pressed.

23. The method of claim 17, further comprising setting a timer prior to step e) to define an amount of time for the second player to guess a letter, wherein the first player wins the game if the amount of time expires before the second player guesses a letter.

24. The method of claim 17, wherein the step e) of guessing a letter comprises entering a letter in an electronic keypad that is coupled to the game body.

25. The method of claim 17, further comprising, prior to step e), defining a maximum number of wrong guesses, wherein the first player wins the game if the maximum number of wrong guesses is made before the second player guesses the word.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates, generally, to games and, more particularly, to an electronic hangman word game.

2. Description of the Related Art

The game of hangman has been known for decades. It is typically played with writing instrument and paper. Generally, it is a word guessing game, in which a first player selects a secret word that a second player tries to determine by guessing its letters. During play, the first player draws a line or creates a space for each of the letters in the word. The second player takes turns guessing one letter that the second player believes is in the word. If the word contains a guessed letter, then the first player writes the letter on a respective line or space positioned where the letter is in the word. If the word does not contain the guessed letter, then the first player draws one body part of a person (typically, a head, torso, arm, hand, leg and foot) and that is depicted hanging from a gallows. If the second player guesses all of the letters in the word before the first player completes a depiction of an entire person hanging from the gallows, then the second player wins. Otherwise, the first player wins.

In addition to the typical paper/pencil version, there are various prior art embodiments of hangman games. In one example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,012,044 discloses a three-dimensional miniature gallows is included with a trap door. Magnetic body parts (e.g., head, torso, arm, hand, leg and foot) are connected to form a human representation. A rack of letter blocks is used to construct words.

Another example in U.S. Pat. No. 3,948,526 shows a game apparatus that includes a row of holes adapted to receive letter pegs. A pair of scaffolds are mounted to the apparatus, and body part pieces form figures on the scaffolds. The top of the playing surface includes containers for storing body part pieces and score cards, and apertures are provided for holding paper on which the secret word is written.

In yet another version of the game shown in U.S. Pat. No. 3,734,506, a first player writes a word in a space between parallel rows of cavities on the rear face of a block and slides a cover over the word. A second player chooses letters in an attempt to complete the hidden word. The first player rotates appropriate wheels from the back of the apparatus to expose chosen correct letters of a word in proper sequence in the bottom row or to expose improper unused chosen letters in the top row. Openings in an upper row on a game apparatus form portions of representations of a human figure which is progressively completed from one row end to the other, the end representation being a complete human figure suspended above a representation of a hangman's platform.

In still another version, U.S. Pat. No. 3,394,935 discloses a game of hangman including a picture puzzle having removable and replaceable segments. As a player incorrectly guesses letters of a word, individual segments of the picture puzzle are placed on a playing board. When the puzzle is completed before the player guesses the word, the player guessing the letters loses.

Prior hangman games may not produce sufficient excitement compared with the excitement electronic games produce and that consumers have come to expect.

There is a need, therefore, for an innovative hangman game that is more interesting to play and produces sufficient excitement by including electronic components.

Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a hangman game that introduces new elements of excitement into the game.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In a preferred embodiment, a game apparatus for playing hangman is provided that includes a game body and a plurality of letter elements each carrying a letter which is to be guessed by a player. The letter elements may be formatted in various ways, such as in letter blocks. During play, the letter elements are either hidden from a player or exposed to a player's view.

Further, a display coupled to the game body is operable to depict progress of the hangman game as it is being played. A plurality of display elements are provided in the display. The display elements collectively define a representation of a human figure in a gallows. Individual display elements are activated to become visible to players, including being illuminated, to indicate the progress of the hangman game while it is being played. Moreover, a control may be provided for selectively activating the display elements as the game progresses.

Also in a preferred exemplary embodiment, the game apparatus is made of a suitable plastic material, and a display and one or more game activators are further provided. The display may also be made of a suitable material, such as plastic, and hold the display elements.

Alternatively, the display may be formed as a cathode ray tube display, a liquid crystal display (“LCD”) or other suitable electronic display. Moreover, the display elements provided in the display may take various forms, including light emitting diodes (“LEDs”), liquid crystals, light bulbs, picture elements (“pixels”) or other known display element that can be activated or illuminated. At least some of the display elements are activated in a sequence to depict a progressively more complete representation of a human figure including, for example, head, torso, arms, hands, legs and feet, also elements defining a gallows. These elements together will show the character being “hung” and the gallows. At least some of the display elements are further illuminated in a sequence to depict a representation of gallows, a noose or both.

In another embodiment, a counter may be provided to record a player's score, such as to represent the number of game rounds won by a player.

In yet another embodiment, a counter is provided that is operable to track a number of remaining turns for at least one player while the game is being played. In this alternative embodiment, the counter is further operable to pre-set a number of wrong guesses that the at least one player may make.

An activator may operate the counter such that the activator increases or decreases a value displayed in the counter. A second activator may reset the counter to a preset value, preferably zero.

The apparatus may include an audio component, which may be activated by a third activator or a plurality of third activators.

The activator(s) may be formatted as buttons, switches or other manual controls operable by a user. Alternatively, the activator(s) may be formatted as internal controls that operate automatically in response to a user control, such as a button.

In another embodiment, a letter support is provided for removably carrying the plurality of letter elements. The letter support may be formatted in various ways, including as a letter block rack. The letter elements carried in the letter support are adjustable in the support, between a first position in which the letters are hidden from a player, and a second position, in which the letters are exposed to the player.

In yet another embodiment, a method is provided for playing a word guessing game between two players. A first player selects a word and keeps the word secret from a second player. Letter elements are selected, wherein each of the letter elements includes a respective letter that is included in the selected word. The second player guesses a letter, and each selected letter element that carries a letter that corresponds to the guessed letter is repositioned to enable the second player to see each of the repositioned letters. At least one of a plurality of display elements is activated or illuminated if the selected letter elements do not include the guessed letter. This repeats until either the second player has guessed all of the letters in the selected word, or until all of the plurality of display elements are activated.

In an embodiment, the letter elements are formatted as letter blocks and inserted in a letter block rack while keeping the letters on the elements hidden are from the second player. The letter blocks are positioned in the letter block rack to prevent the second player from seeing the letters included in the letter blocks.

The game body preferably supports the letter block rack and the rack preferably includes cavities that receive letter blocks. The rack may be detachable from the game body.

The game body may include a recess operable to store the letter elements.

The game body may also include a score recorder that records the current score in a game.

The game body may include a timer that may be adjustable to define a time limit for a player to make a guess.

The game apparatus may include a memory and an input, such as a keypad, that enables a player to store a word in the memory or retrieve a word from the memory. Moreover, a dictionary may be stored in the memory, for example, to generate a word randomly or confirm spelling of a word.

Optionally, a sensor may automatically sense the letter elements that are used to make up a word. The sensor can operate for automatic functionality, such as illuminating the display elements

Other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of the invention that refers to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For the purpose of illustrating the invention, there is shown in the drawings a form of the invention, which is presently preferred, it being understood, however, that the invention is not limited to the precise arrangements and instrumentalities shown. The features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of the invention that refers to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a front elevational view of a game apparatus according to a preferred embodiment;

FIG. 2 is a rear elevational view of the game apparatus shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged view of a rack and letter blocks of the game apparatus in an embodiment; and

FIG. 4 is a right side elevational view of the game apparatus according to an embodiment.

DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 illustrates a preferred embodiment of a game apparatus 10 operable to be played by at least two players. Game apparatus 10 includes game body 20. Game body 20 includes display 49, display elements 50, and compartment 62 for storing parts, including letter blocks 54 (described below), that are used with game apparatus 10. Other elements of game apparatus 10 may include audio component 60, score keeping components 46 and 48, and a letter block support, such as a letter block rack 30. Audio component 60 may be a speaker or other audio output component, such as a headphone output jack or other suitable component. Compartment 62 preferably has a lid 64 to retain letter blocks 54.

Each display element 50 is activated to provide a representation of part of a human figure or of gallows during play.

An example of a letter block 54 is seen in FIG. 3. It is a circular disk, with a guide pintle 54a below and a rotation knob 54b above. Each letter block 54 carries an individual letter of the alphabet. Other embodiments may include as images, colors or other indicia formed on letter blocks 54 and operable with game apparatus 10. Preferably, letters or other indicia are provided on only one side of the letter blocks 54. Thus, until a letter block 54 is turned so that its letter is toward a player, the letter is not revealed.

Letter block rack 30 is provided with apertures 52. When one or more letter blocks 54 are inserted into respective cavities 55 in the letter block rack 30, each letter on the letter blocks 54 can be seen through the respective aperture 52. After being inserted into letter block rack 30, letter blocks 54 are rotatable to be positioned such that the letter on a letter block 54 may be hidden from the second player who is trying to guess the word.

Scoring recorders 46 and 48 are provided respectively to enable each player to keep score. Preferably, recorders 46 and 48 are configured as rotatable wheels, but they can be fashioned in other suitable ways, as known in the art. Each of the recorders 46 and 48 preferably includes printed numbers 1 to 10, thereby enabling the players to keep track of the respective scores.

Player timer 44 may be provided with game apparatus 10 and the time is selectable. For example, timer 44 can be set in a range of 1 to 5 minutes. The timer indicator 70 preferably illuminates to indicate that the timer has been set and may start blinking to count down the last 10 seconds of a game round. Timer indicator 70 may stop blinking and turn off after the set time period expires.

Game apparatus 10 is provided with a plurality of activators (or controls), such as push buttons. For example, after a player guesses a letter, but the letter does not match any of the letter blocks 54, the other player presses a control, such as “Wrong” button 40, which causes a counter (not shown) to increment by a value of one, and a display element 50 to be activated. Further, audio element 60 may also be activated to play a pre-determined sound, such as a melody, at various times. For example, audio element 60 may play a sound when “Wrong” button 40 is pressed. In case the letter guessed by the second player does match one or more of the letter blocks 54, “Correct” button 42 is preferably provided for the first player to press, which, for example, activates audio element 60 to play another predetermined sound. “New Game” button 72 is pressed to cause a counter (not shown) and timer 44 to be reset and display elements 50 to be switched off. Audio element 60 may be activated to play yet another pre-determined sound.

FIG. 2 illustrates the rear side of the game apparatus 10 which faces the second player who is trying to guess letters to determine the word. The letters are shown all revealed as would occur if the second player had guessed the word or all of its letters.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 3, letter block rack 30 is illustrated detached from game body 20. As noted above, letter block rack 30 receives letter blocks 54 inserted into cavities 55. Detaching letter block rack 30 from game body 20 enables the first player to insert the letter blocks 54 privately into letter block rack 30 and without the second player viewing the letter blocks 54 while they are being inserted.

After a word is chosen and corresponding letter blocks 54 including the letters of the word are inserted into letter block rack 30, letter blocks 54 are turned and positioned within letter block rack 30 to prevent the second player from seeing the letters. Thereafter, letter block rack 30 may be reattached to game body 20, with the blank face of the letter blocks 54 facing the second player.

As illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 3, the word “APPLE” has been chosen and corresponding letter blocks 54 have been inserted into letter block rack 30. In FIG. 1, the letters on letter blocks 54 are not revealed to the player trying to guess the word. During play, letter blocks 54 are rotated to a position within letter block rack 30 while rack 30 is attached to game body 20, thereby preventing the second player from seeing the letters. During play and following a correct guess of a letter, the first player rotates the corresponding letter block(s) 54 to reveal the letter(s) and the position(s) of the letter(s) in the word. FIG. 2 illustrates that letter blocks 54 reveal the word “APPLE” to the second player when that game is finished.

In alternative embodiments, accessories may be added to enhance the game apparatus 10. For example, a sensor may automatically sense letter blocks 54 in letter block rack 30. Further, a memory and keypad may be used by the first player for inputting the word to be guessed. Alternatively, a memory and keypad may be used by the second player during game play for guessing letters. Optionally, an electronic dictionary may be stored in the memory and accessed, for example, to randomly generate a word to be guessed or to confirm the spelling of a word.

FIG. 4 shows a right-side view of game apparatus 10. In FIG. 4, lid 64 is raised, indicating convenient access to storage compartment 62 for ensuring that game parts stored therein are retained.

A discussion regarding a method for playing the game apparatus in accordance with a preferred embodiment is provided below.

In the preferred embodiment, game apparatus 10 is used by two players: the first player who sets up the word and operates the unit and the second player who tries to guess the word.

The first player may remove letter block rack 30 from the top of game body 20 and insert letter blocks 54 into the letter block rack 30 to build a word. In FIGS. 1-4, game apparatus 10 supports a maximum of eight letters. Of course, varying numbers of letters can be supported by game apparatus 10.

During play, the second player preferably does not see the word as a result of the first player rotating each letter block 54 in its position within letter block rack 30 by 180 degrees, and further by the player attaching letter block rack 30 to game body 20 so that the second player cannot see the letters inscribed on letter blocks 54.

In one mode of play, the first player can set a timer setting 44. To start a new game, the first player presses “NEW GAME” button 72. The game round starts. The second player, thereafter guesses a letter. If the letter is in the word, the first player turns all letter blocks 54 with this correct letter around to be visible for the second player. Preferably, the first player further presses “CORRECT” button 42.

If the guessed letter is not in the word, the first player presses the “Wrong” button 40 and one more display element 50 is activated.

The second player continues to guess letters until the complete word is shown, resulting in the second player winning the round. Alternatively, the second player continues to guess letters until the display elements 50 are activated depicting a figure of a complete person and the gallows or until the timer runs out, resulting in the second player losing the round.

If the second player wins the game round, the first player preferably holds the “CORRECT” button for one second to trigger the correct response and move a score recording means (e.g., a counter) of the second player one position forward. Alternatively, if the second player loses the game round, the first player rotates letter blocks 54 to display the word to the second player.

After a round is complete, the first and second players preferably change roles, the game unit is turned around, and the second player sets up a word to start another game round.

Preferably, the winning player is the one whose score recorder (counter) reaches 10 first.

Although the present invention has been described in relation to particular embodiments thereof, many other variations and modifications and other uses will become apparent to those skilled in the art. Therefore, the present invention should not be limited by the specific disclosure herein.