Title:
GAMING METHOD AND GAMING SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method of playing a question and answer game using a communication network connected player device, the method including the steps of the player device: receiving question data via a communication network, the question data including question presentation data and answer data; presenting a question using the question presentation data; assessing any answer input in response to the question using the answer data; presenting an answer assessment; and transmitting assessment data for at least an answer assessed as correct to a game administrator via the communication network.



Inventors:
Errington, Oliver Boyd (Newport, AU)
Application Number:
12/468980
Publication Date:
11/26/2009
Filing Date:
05/20/2009
Assignee:
Aristocrat Technologies Australia PTY Limited (North Ryde, AU)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
463/42
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20070178963Gaming machineAugust, 2007Sato
20140274243TAILORING EDUCATIONAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENTSSeptember, 2014Lopez et al.
20080125217Distribution of verifiable executablesMay, 2008Pavlovski
20050026672Gaming machine with base game bonus featureFebruary, 2005Roukis
20140018167USER MANIPULATION OF VORONOI DIAGRAM GAME MECHANICSJanuary, 2014Golli
20170036119VIRTUAL CARD PLAY BASED INTERACTIVE GAMING EXPERIENCESFebruary, 2017Nielsen et al.
20030001338Gaming machine with interactive scorecardJanuary, 2003Bennett et al.
20080220870METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR PROVIDING A SEAMLESS TOURNAMENT SYSTEM FOR MULTIPLAYER GAMESSeptember, 2008Zavolas et al.
20080176634Gaming method and apparatus for portioning a play areaJuly, 2008Berman et al.
20050026667Video poker with continuous playFebruary, 2005Moody
20080139281Roulette gaming machine and method for providing roulette gameJune, 2008Yoshizawa



Other References:
Greg Miller, "Jeopardy! Review I'll take games that for some godforsaken reason don't feature Alex Tribek for $100" Review at IGN, September 13 2008.
Primary Examiner:
SMITH, BRADLEY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Aristocrat Technologies, Inc. c/o Armstrong et al. (St. Louis, MO, US)
Claims:
1. A method of playing a question and answer game using a communication network connected player device, the method comprising the steps of the player device: receiving question data via a communication network, the question data including question presentation data and answer data; presenting a question using the question presentation data; assessing any answer input in response to the question using the answer data; presenting an answer assessment; and transmitting assessment data for at least an answer assessed as correct to a game administrator via the communication network.

2. A method, as claimed in claim 1, further comprising the step of the game administrator transmitting the question data via the communication network.

3. A method, as claimed in claim 2, wherein the question data is transmitted concurrently to a plurality of player devices.

4. A method, as claimed in claim 1, wherein the assessment data is only transmitted to the game administrator when the answer is assessed as correct.

5. A method, as claimed in claim 1, wherein the assessment data includes time data indicative of an elapsed time between presenting the question and an answer being input to the device.

6. A method, as claimed in claim 5, wherein the time data is indicative of an elapsed time between presenting the question and a correct answer being input to the device.

7. A method, as claimed in claim 1, further comprising the step of the game administrator analysing the assessment data received from a player and awarding a prize for a correct answer.

8. A method, as claimed in claim 7, where the prize is a credit value added to a credit balance value of a player account.

9. A method, as claimed in claim 8, wherein the credit value of the prize awarded for a correct answer is based on the time data for the answer.

10. A method, as claimed in claim 7, wherein analysing the assessment data includes determining a score value for the player for the question based on whether or not the answer is correct and the time data.

11. A method, as claimed in claim 10, further comprising the step of adding the determined score value for the question to a cumulative score value for a player.

12. A method, as claimed in claim 11, wherein the game can be played by a plurality of players, further comprising the step of determining a relative ranking for each player based on each player's cumulative score value.

13. A method, as claimed in claim 12, wherein one or more prizes are awarded to players based on their relative ranking.

14. A question and answer game system comprising: a game administrator comprising: a network interface for connection to a communication network; a memory storing question data comprising question presentation data and answer data, for one or more questions; and a processor adapted to control transmission of question data for a question to one or more player devices via a connected communication network, and to process assessment data received in response to the question from the player devices via the communication network; and at least one player device adapted to, in response to each receipt of question data, present the question to a player using the question presentation data, assess any input answer using the answer data and transmit assessment data to the game administrator.

15. A system, as claimed in claim 14, wherein the player device is further adapted to monitor the elapsed time between presenting the question and an answer being input to the player device and include time data indicative of the elapsed time in the assessment data.

16. A system, as claimed in claim 15, wherein the time data is indicative of an elapsed time between presenting the question and a correct answer being input to the device.

17. A system, as claimed in claim 14, wherein the player device is adapted to only transmit assessment data for a correct answer.

18. A system, as claimed in claim 14, further comprising a subscriber register in data communication with the game administrator, whereby players register to play the question and answer game, the subscriber register being adapted to store for player data each registered player.

19. A system, as claimed in claim 14, wherein processing assessment data includes analysing assessment data received from a player and awarding a prize for a correct answer.

20. A system, as claimed in claim 19, where the prize is a credit value which is added to a credit balance value included in player data for the player.

21. A system, as claimed in claim 20, wherein the credit value of the prize awarded for a correct answer is based on the time data for the answer.

22. A system, as claimed in claim 14, wherein analysing the assessment data includes the game administrator processor determining a score value for the player for the question based on whether or not the answer is correct and the time data.

23. A system, as claimed in claim 22, wherein the determined score value for the question is added by the game administrator processor to a cumulative score value for a player stored as player data.

24. A system, as claimed in claim 23, a relative ranking is determined by the game administrator processor for each of a plurality of players based on each player's cumulative score value.

25. A system, as claimed in claim 24, wherein one or more prizes are awarded to players based on their relative ranking.

26. A system, as claimed in claim 20, wherein a player's credit balance value stored as player data can be redeemed for goods or services offered through the player register.

27. A system, as claimed in claim 26, wherein the redeemable services include mobile phone network service access.

28. A game administrator comprising: a network interface for connection to a communication network; a memory storing question data comprising question presentation data and answer data, for one or more questions; and a processor adapted to control transmission of question data for a question to one or more player devices via a connected communication network, and to process assessment data received in response to processing of the question data by the player devices via the communication network, the assessment data including an indication of whether the answer is correct.

29. A player device adapted to: receive question data for a question transmitted by a game administrator via a communication network, the question data including question presentation data and question answer data; present the question to a player using the question presentation data; assess any input answer using the answer data; and transmit assessment data for the question to the game administrator.

30. A player device, as claimed in claim 29, further adapted to monitor the elapsed time between presenting the question and an answer being input to the player device and include time data indicative of the elapsed time in the assessment data.

31. An article of manufacture comprising: a computer readable storage medium; and executable program instructions embodied in the computer readable storage medium that when executed by a player device cause the player device to perform functions that implement a question and answer game using the player device connected to a communication network, the functions comprising: receive question data for a question transmitted by a game administrator via a communication network, the question data including question presentation data and question answer data; present the question to a player using the question presentation data; assess any input answer using the answer data; and transmit assessment data for the question to the game administrator.

32. An article of manufacture, as claimed in claim 31, wherein the executable program instructions further adapt the player device to monitor the elapsed time between presenting the question and an answer being input to the player device and include time data indicative of the elapsed time in the assessment data.

33. An article of manufacture, as claimed in claim 31, wherein the executable instructions are downloadable to the player device via the communication network.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims the benefit of priority to Australian Provisional Patent Application No. 2008902491, filed on May 20, 2008, entitled “GAMING METHOD AND GAMING SYSTEM”, which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.

FIELD

The field of the invention is gaming systems and methods whereby players play a game via a communication network. An example of an application of an embodiment is a game played using a person's mobile phone as a player interface.

BACKGROUND

Question and answer style games are known, for example trivia games and general knowledge quizzes. Typically a question and answer game, such as a trivia game, is played with a host asking questions and players attempting to provide a correct answer. To increase participation and enjoyment of such a question and answer game it is desirable to make the game available via a communication network for play by a plurality of players using devices such as mobile phones.

SUMMARY

According to one aspect there is provided a method of playing a question and answer game using a communication network connected player device, the method including the steps of the player device:

receiving question data via a communication network, the question data including question presentation data and answer data;

presenting a question using the question presentation data;

assessing any answer input in response to the question using the answer data;

presenting an answer assessment; and

transmitting assessment data for at least an answer assessed as correct to a game administrator via the communication network.

In an embodiment the method further includes the step of the game administrator transmitting the question data via the communication network. The question data can be transmitted concurrently to a plurality of player devices.

In an embodiment the assessment data is only transmitted to the game administrator when the answer is assessed as correct.

In some embodiments the assessment data includes time data indicative of an elapsed time between presenting the question and an answer being input to the device. The time data can be indicative of an elapsed time between presenting the question and a correct answer being input to the device.

An embodiment further includes the step of the game administrator analysing the assessment data received from a player and awarding a prize for a correct answer. For example, the prize can be a credit value added to a credit balance value of a player account. The credit value of a prize awarded for a correct answer can be based on the time data for the answer.

In an embodiment analysing the assessment data includes determining a score value for the player for the question based on whether or not the answer is correct and the time data. The determined score value for the question can also be added to a cumulative score value for a player.

In an embodiment where the game can be played by a plurality of players, a relative ranking can be determined for each player based on each player's cumulative score value. One or more prizes can be awarded to players based on their relative ranking.

According to another aspect there is provided a question and answer game system including:

a game administrator including:

    • a network interface for connection to a communication network;
      • a memory storing question data including question presentation data and answer data, for one or more questions; and
      • a processor adapted to control transmission of question data for a question to one or more player devices via a connected communication network, and to process assessment data received in response to the question from the player devices via the communication network; and

at least one player device adapted to, in response to each receipt of question data, present the question to a player using the question presentation data, assess any input answer using the answer data and transmit assessment data to the game administrator.

The player device can be further adapted to monitor the elapsed time between presenting the question and an answer being input to the player device and include time data indicative of the elapsed time in the assessment data.

The player device can be adapted to only transmit assessment data for a correct answer.

An embodiment of the system further includes a subscriber register in data communication with the game administrator, whereby players register to play the question and answer game, the subscriber register being adapted to store for player data each registered player.

Processing assessment data can include analysing assessment data received from a player and awarding a prize for a correct answer. The prize can be a credit value which is added to a credit balance value included in player data for the player. The credit value of the prize awarded for a correct answer can be based on the time data for the answer.

In an embodiment analysing the assessment data includes the game administrator processor determining a score value for the player for the question based on whether or not the answer is correct and the time data. The determined score value for the question can be added by the game administrator processor to a cumulative score value for a player stored as player data. A relative ranking can be determined by the game administrator processor for each of a plurality of players based on each player's cumulative score value. One or more prizes can be awarded to players based on their relative ranking.

In an embodiment a player's credit balance value, stored as player data, can be redeemed for goods or services offered through the player register. The redeemable services can include mobile phone network service access.

According to another aspect there is provided a game administrator including:

a network interface for connection to a communication network;

a memory storing question data, having question presentation data and answer data, for one or more questions; and

a processor adapted to control transmission of question data for a question to one or more player devices via a connected communication network, and to process assessment data received in response to processing of the question data by the player devices via the communication network, the assessment data including an indication of whether the answer is correct.

According to another aspect there is provided a player device adapted to:

receive question data for a question transmitted by a game administrator via a communication network, the question data including question presentation data and question answer data;

present the question to a player using the question presentation data;

assess any input answer using the answer data; and

transmit assessment data for the question to the game administrator.

In an embodiment the player device is further adapted to monitor the elapsed time between presenting the question and an answer being input to the player device and include time data indicative of the elapsed time in the assessment data.

According to another aspect there is provided an application for execution by a player device to adapt the player device to:

receive question data for a question transmitted by a game administrator via a communication network, the question data including question presentation data and question answer data;

present the question to a player using the question presentation data;

assess any input answer using the answer data; and

transmit assessment data for the question to the game administrator.

In an embodiment the application further adapts the player device to monitor the elapsed time between presenting the question and an answer being input to the player device and include time data indicative of the elapsed time in the assessment data.

In an embodiment the application is downloadable to a player device via a communication network.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

An embodiment, incorporating all aspects of the invention, will now be described by way of example only with reference to the accompanying drawings in which

FIG. 1 illustrates an example of a system for playing a question and answer game via a communication network.

FIG. 2 shows block diagram illustrating an example of a game system and user device for playing a question and answer game via a communication network.

FIG. 3 is a flowchart illustrating an example of a question and answer game play process.

Features, further aspects, and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of embodiments thereof, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings. Also, various embodiments of the aspects described in the preceding paragraphs will be apparent from the appended claims, the following description and/or the accompanying drawings. It should be understood, however, that the present invention is not limited to the arrangements and instrumentality shown in the attached drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Although the following discloses example methods, systems, articles of manufacture, and apparatus including, among other components, software executed on hardware, it should be noted that such methods and apparatus are merely illustrative and should not be considered as limiting. For example, it is contemplated that any or all of these hardware and software components could be embodied exclusively in hardware, exclusively in software, exclusively in firmware, or in any combination of hardware, software, and/or firmware. Accordingly, while the following describes example methods, systems, articles of manufacture, and apparatus, the examples provided are not the only way to implement such methods, systems, articles of manufacture, and apparatus.

When any of the appended claims are read to cover a purely software and/or firmware implementation, at least one of the elements is hereby expressly defined to include a tangible medium such as a memory, DVD, CD, etc. storing the software and/or firmware.

Embodiments provide a gaming system and method for a question and answer game played across a communication network. Examples of games which may be used are games which use a question and answer style format, such as trivia games, general knowledge quizzes, maths problems, puzzles etc having answers which are not subjective.

In an embodiment as illustrated in FIG. 1 question data 140 is provided by a game administrator 110 via a communication network 120 to one or more player devices 130,150 such as a mobile phone, personal digital assistant, palmtop computer or the like.

A player device 130,150 receives the question data 140 via a communication network 120. The question data 140 includes question presentation data and answer data. The question is presented to the player on the player device 130,150 using the question presentation data.

After the question is presented to the player, the player can input an answer to the question using a user interface of the player device. The input answer is assessed by the player device using the answer data provided in the question data. Assessment data is then transmitted to the game administrator via the communication network for an answer assessed as correct. Assessment data may also be transmitted to the game administrator for answers assessed as incorrect.

In the example illustrated in detail in FIG. 2, a question and answer game is played via a communication network 220 using a player device 230, for example mobile phone using a wireless telecommunication network. A system for implementing the question and answer game includes a game administrator 200 and a least one player device 230.

The game administrator 200 illustrated in FIG. 2 includes a network interface 250 for connection to the communication network 220, a memory 215 storing question data 260 for one or more questions, and a processor 210. The question data 260 includes question presentation data 262 and answer data 264. The processor 210 is adapted control transmission of question data 260 for a question to one or more player devices 230 via a connected communication network 220 and to process assessment data received in response to the question from the player devices 230. For example, the game administrator may include a network server and database for storing question data. A user terminal (not shown) is provided to enable question data to be entered into the database.

A player device 230 includes a transceiver 280 for transmitting data to and receiving data from the communication network 220, a user input and output interface 284, a processor 288 and memory 270. The player device can be any network connectable communication device, for example the user device may be a personal computer or laptop computer, mobile phone, personal digital assistant etc.

The player device 230 is adapted to:

receive question data 260, including question presentation data 262 and question answer 264 data, for a question transmitted by a game administrator 200 via a communication network 220;

present the question to a player using the question presentation data 262;

assess any input answer using the answer data 264; and

transmit assessment data for the question to the game administrator 200.

A software application 275 can be downloaded to the device memory 270 for execution by the processor 288 to adapt a player device for playing the question and answer game.

The processor 288, is a processing device such as a microprocessor or the like, adapted to control device functions and execute software programs, such as the question and answer game application 275, stored in the device memory 270. The processor 288 and memory 270 architecture may vary depending on the type of user device. It should be appreciated by a skilled person that all possible hardware, firmware and software architectures for the player device are contemplated within the scope of the present application.

The user input and output interface 284 typically includes a display 286 and any combination of interfaces in accordance with the style of device, for example keypad, keyboard, touch screen, microphone (for example for use with a voice recognition software), data input and output ports, image/video capture etc. A person skilled in the art will appreciate that any variation of user interface options are contemplated within the scope of this application.

The application 275 is adapted to present a question to using question presentation data. The question presentation data may include one or more type of data, for example visual data, such as text, images or animations for presentation on a device display 286, and audio data such as tunes, sounds, spoken words, or sound clips which can be played for a player using an audio output of the device, such as speakers or headphones. It should be appreciated that any one or more types of data or combinations thereof may include the question presentation data. The question presentation data may include optional data used selectively when presenting the question dependent on the capabilities of the player device, for example display colour limitations, sound reproduction limitations, whether the device is adapted for a tactile output such as by vibrating or not etc.

The question presentation data can be designed such that the question is presented in a manner which is entertaining to the player. For example the question and answer game may be a trivia game having categories such as “Popular Sayings”, “Famous People” or “Locations”. For the “Popular Sayings” category the question data may include an animation demonstrating a well known saying. For the “Famous People” category the question data may include a photograph or caricature of a famous person, the question data may also include an audio clip or text string of a famous quote by the person or indicating something the person was famous for, for example if the famous person is a musician an audio clip may include a few bars of a famous piece rather than a quote. For a “Locations” the question data may include a map, a picture or a text question which may include audio and well as visual presentation. The question data may also include animations depicting something characteristic or iconic of a place, such as cooking utensils for a kitchen, or kangaroos for Australia.

In response to the presented question the player can submit an answer using the user interface 284 of the player device 230. For example, the player may enter an answer in the form of a text string using a keypad or keyboard, alternatively the answer may be entered using a voice input and voice to text conversion, an answer may also be entered using a touch screen using fingers or a stylus etc.

The input answer is assessed using the answer data 264 provided in the question data 260. For example, the application 275 executing on the player device processor 288 may run an assessment routine which compares the input answer with the answer data. The answer data may be a text string including the correct answer to the question. Assessing the answer can involve comparing the text string input by the player with the text string provided as the answer data to determine whether the two text strings match. The answer data may further include variations, such as known spelling variations for words in the text which can be used as an alternative match.

The answer assessment is presented to the player, for example by displaying an image illustrative of a correct answer such as a tick, playing an animation or an audio clip indicating a correct or incorrect answer. This answer assessment presentation may be included as part of the answer data or use data stored in device memory to present a correct or incorrect assessment.

Assessment data is transmitted using the transceiver 282 to the game administrator 200 via the communication network 220 for an answer assessed as correct. Assessment data may also be transmitted to the game administrator 200 for answers assessed as incorrect.

In some embodiments the player may have a limited number of attempts at answering the question, for example one or three attempts. In this embodiment answer data may not be transmitted for every answer input. For example, a player has a maximum or three attempts to enter a correct answer. If the player enters an incorrect answer for their first attempt, no answer data is transmitted to the game administrator. An animation indicating an incorrect answer may be played and following this another animation played inviting the player to “try again”. If on the second attempt the player inputs a correct answer, an animation indicating a correct answer is played and assessment data transmitted to the game administrator, and the game finishes without the third attempt being used. However, if the player continues to enter incorrect answers for the second and third attempt, the player does not get another attempt to enter a correct answer. In this case, after the third incorrect attempt, the animation indicating an incorrect answer is played and the game ends. The game ending may involve playing a further animation, for example having a “game over” or “better luck next time” message. The game ending message may also indicate to the player the correct answer for the question.

Assessment data may be transmitted to the game administrator after each answer attempt, or alternatively only once either a correct answer is entered or all attempts have been used without entering a correct answer. For example, the assessment data can be a data package including player identification data and an indication of whether or not a correct answer was submitted.

In another embodiment assessment data is only transmitted to the game administrator where a correct answer is entered. In this embodiment it is not necessary to include an indication of whether or not the answer was correct in the assessment data. If no assessment data is received by the game administrator for a player, the game administrator will deem the player to have answered incorrectly.

In another embodiment a player may have an unlimited number of attempts to enter a correct answer. In this embodiment assessment data may only be transmitted to the game administrator in the case of a correct answer.

In another alternative embodiment, a player may have an unlimited number of attempts to enter a correct answer, but may have a limited time period during which answers may be entered. In this case, assessment data may be transmitted to the game administrator having an indication of whether or not the question was correctly answered, either once a correct answer is given or once the time period expires. Alternatively, the game administrator may deem all players to have answered incorrectly for whom assessment data has not been received by the expiration of the time period.

In this embodiment the time period for answering the question may be included as part of the answer data. At the expiration of the time period the player may be informed that the time to answer the question has expired and that they have been deemed to have answered incorrectly, whether assessment data is transmitted to the game administrator or not. The correct answer may be provided automatically to the player after the time period expires or a player may be able to select whether to be given the correct answer or have more attempts at guessing the answer, even though no assessment data will be transmitted to the game administrator.

In an embodiment the assessment data includes time data indicative of an elapsed time between presenting the question and an answer being input to the player device. For example, a timer of the player device may be started when the question is presented and stopped when the answer is input, alternatively a first time stamp may be recorded when the question is presented and a second time stamp recorded when an answer is input with the difference between the first and second time stamps being the elapsed time. The time data may be indicative of the elapsed time between question presentation and a correct answer being input to the device. For example, the second time stamp may be updated when a subsequent attempt is made to enter a correct answer and the time data calculated once an answer has been assessed as correct.

In some embodiments prizes are awarded based on the assessment data transmitted to the game administrator 200. For example, prizes may include merchandise, goods, access to services or credits redeemable for goods and services. In this embodiment the game administrator processor 210 analyses received assessment data and determines prizes to be awarded. In an embodiment a prize is awarded for each correct answer. In another embodiment a prize is awarded for each correct answer received within a given time interval. For example, a prize is only awarded for correct answers submitted within one hour of the question being transmitted to the player devices.

In some embodiments prizes are also based on the time taken to answer. For example, a bonus prize may be awarded for answers received within the first hour of the question being submitted. In another embodiment the value of a prize for a correct answer may be based on the time take to submit the answer. Depending on the embodiment implemented the time taken may be based on a time from when the question data was transmitted or on an elapsed time measured from when the question was presented to the player to the time the player submits their answer, for example as monitored by the player device application and transmitted to the game administrator as time data with the assessment data. An advantage of using elapsed time is the prize can be awarded based on a time which is independent of any communication network latency. For example a first prize value of one hundred credits may be awarded for correct answers submitted within ten minutes of the question being presented, and a prize value of twenty credits awarded for correct answers submitted more than ten minutes after the question was presented. Alternatively, a graduating scale of prize values my be defined, for example the prize awarded for correct answers when they are received may be reduced by ten credits for each five minutes after the question is transmitted until the prize value is reduced to zero and no more prizes are awarded. Alternatively the value of the prize being awarded may be reduced based on the number of prizes progressively awarded, for example a prize of five hundred credits may be awarded for the first fifty correct answers, then prizes of one hundred credits awarded for the next fifty correct answers and prizes of twenty credits awarded for the next two hundred answers.

In an embodiment a subscriber register 240 is also provided. In this embodiment players subscribe to play the question and answer game and subscriber data is stored in subscriber records 245. A data connection can exist between the subscriber register 240 and the game administrator 200 to enable the game administrator to access subscriber records 245.

In an embodiment the game administrator 200 and subscriber register 240 may be implemented commonly, for example where the game administrator 200 and subscriber register 240 are implemented as functions of a network server. The subscriber register may also be used to subscribe to services in addition to the question and answer game, for example a player may subscriber to a number a different game services, also voice and data services.

The subscriber register may also be adapted to manage subscribers' access to services through use of credits. A subscriber record can store a subscriber's credit balance value. A credit value may be deducted from this balance to pay for access to services offered through the subscription. The credit balance value can be increased through subscription payments or purchasing additional credit for the service provider. In some embodiments prizes awarded for correct answers to the question and answer game questions are awarded as credit added to the subscriber's credit balance. The actual credit value awarded as a prize for a subscriber can be determined based on the correct answer and timing as described above. When a prize is awarded for a subscriber, the prize credit value is added to the credit balance value of their subscriber account. This accumulated credit may then be used to pay for other services offered through the subscription.

In an embodiment subscriber data can be used to determine comparative rankings of players of the question and answer game. For example, a score can be awarded to a player, and stored in the subscriber record, for each question answered. The score may be based on both whether or not the answer was correct and time data for the answer, for example a base score may be given for a correct answer and a time bonus added to the score based on the time data. A time bonus may be based on a mathematical function applied to an elapsed time value, for example a bonus score value divided by the elapsed time and rounded to the nearest integer value. Alternatively the time bonus may be based on a threshold, for example a time bonus of ten points for each correct answer submitted within thirty seconds. In another embodiment a time bonus may be awarded for a specified number of answers, for example the first one hundred correct answers.

The player rankings may be accessible for viewing by players, for example via an internet web site. Player rankings may be based on score for individual questions or based on cumulative scores, for example weekly aggregate scores for each player. In some embodiments additional prizes can be awarded based on relative player rankings. For example a prize may be awarded for the fifty highest ranking players each week.

An example of a question and answer game play process is illustrated in FIG. 3. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 3, a player subscribes to play a Question and answer game. Each day an alert 310 is sent to the player device of each subscribed player to advise the player that a new question is available. On confirmation 315 by the player the question is presented 320. The alert may include the question data. Alternatively the alert may include a link used to connect to the game administrator to download the question data. The question is presented 320 to the player using question presentation data, for example a short animation is played. Presenting the question 320 may also trigger a timer or recording of a time stamp, used to measure the elapsed time between presenting the question and an answer being submitted by the player. The player inputs an answer 330 to the question using the user interface of the player device, such as keying in a text string using a keypad. When the answer is input the timer can be stopped or a further time stamp recorded to measure how long the player has taken to answer the question.

The input answer is assessed 340 by the player device, using answer data included in the question data, to determine whether or not the input answer is correct 350. For example, assessing the answer may include decoding an encoded answer text string embedded in the question data, and comparing the answer text string with the input text string to determine whether the two text strings match.

If an answer is not correct, this is indicated to the player, and the player may be offered a chance to try again 355. For example, an animation may be played indicating the answer was incorrect and offering a second chance. The player can then input 330 another answer for assessment. The player may be given a limited number of chances, or a limited time to input a correct answer. If the player fails to submit a correct answer within the allowed time or number of chances, then the player can be informed, say by playing another animation, and the game ends. Depending on the embodiment data indicating the player has not answered the question correctly may or may not be sent back to the game administrator.

When an answer is assessed 340 as correct 350, this is indicated to the player 360, for example using a congratulatory animation which may also include an indication of the time taken to answer the question correctly.

The assessment data is then transmitted to the game administrator 365. The assessment data can include time data, indicating the elapsed time between presenting the question and the correct answer being input. The assessment data is analysed by the game administrator 370 and any prize due awarded to the player 380. For example, a prize credit value may be calculated based on a given value for the correct answer and a time bonus value determined based on the time data, the credit value may be added to the player's credit balance value stored in their subscriber record. A score may also be allocated to the player and stored in their subscriber record. In some embodiments the game administrator may provide prize data to the player device, for indicating to the player the prize awarded for their answer. Where relative player ranking as are also determined by the game administrator, the prize data may also include ranking information for the question for indication to the player. The indicated ranking may be specific, say giving the exact rank for the question, or may be general, for example, indicating that the player was ranked in the fastest one hundred players for the question. Alternatively, players my link to a web site to view prizes, scores and rankings.

The player device assessing whether or not an answer is correct, enables the player device to present the assessment data to the player without requiring further exchange of data between the player device and game administrator. Further, the game administrator is relieved of the burden of scheduling and processing requirements for receiving and assessing answers from a large number of players substantially simultaneously, and transmitting back to each player device the results of answer assessment. It should be appreciated that using the described method the processing burden for assessing answers is effectively distributed to each individual player device, rather than being assumed by a game administrator processor, such as in a game server.

Further game administrator and network resources do not need to be allocated for receiving answer data and returning results to player devices, thus reducing the network resources used to play the game. It should be appreciated by a person skilled in the art that distributing the answer assessment burden to player devices and minimisation of network resources can also have advantages in simplifying the game administrator hardware architecture requirements compared with systems where assessment is performed by the game administrator, in particular for embodiments adapted to enable a large number of players to play the question and answer game simultaneously. The burden on network resources can be further minimised where assessment data is selectively transmitted by the player device to reduce the amount of assessment data being transmitted, for example by only transmitting assessment data for correct answers.

It will be understood to persons skilled in the art of the invention that many modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, in particular it will be apparent that certain features of embodiments of the invention can be employed to form further embodiments.

In the claims which follow and in the preceding description, except where the context indicates otherwise due to express language or necessary implication, the word “comprise” or variations such as “comprises” or “comprising” is used in an inclusive sense, i.e. to specify the presence of the stated features but not to preclude the presence or addition of further features in various embodiments.

It will be appreciated by persons skilled in the art that numerous variations and/or modifications may be made to the invention as shown in the specific embodiments without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention as broadly described. The present embodiments are, therefore, to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive. Several embodiments are described above with reference to the drawings. These drawings illustrate certain details of specific embodiments that implement the systems and methods and programs of the present invention. However, describing the invention with drawings should not be construed as imposing on the invention any limitations associated with features shown in the drawings. It will be understood that the invention disclosed and defined in this specification extends to all alternative combinations of two or more of the individual features mentioned or evident from the text or drawings. All of these different combinations constitute various alternative aspects of the invention.

The present invention contemplates methods, systems and program products on any electronic device and/or machine-readable media suitable for accomplishing its operations. Certain embodiments of the present invention may be implemented using an existing computer processor and/or by a special purpose computer processor incorporated for this or another purpose or by a hardwired system, for example.

Embodiments within the scope of the present invention include program products comprising machine-readable media for carrying or having machine-executable instructions or data structures stored thereon. Such machine-readable media can be any available media that can be accessed by a general purpose or special purpose computer or other machine with a processor. By way of example, such machine-readable media may comprise RAM, ROM, PROM, EPROM, EEPROM, Flash, CD-ROM or other optical disk storage, magnetic disk storage or other magnetic storage devices, or any other medium which can be used to carry or store desired program code in the form of machine-executable instructions or data structures and which can be accessed by a general purpose or special purpose computer or other machine with a processor. When information is transferred or provided over a network or another communications connection (either hardwired, wireless, or a combination of hardwired or wireless) to a machine, the machine properly views the connection as a machine-readable medium. Thus, any such a connection is properly termed a machine-readable medium. Combinations of the above are also included within the scope of machine-readable media. Machine-executable instructions comprise, for example, instructions and data which cause a general purpose computer, special purpose computer, or special purpose processing machines to perform a certain function or group of functions.