Title:
Game Apparatus For One Or More Persons
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention relates to a game apparatus for one or more persons. The game apparatus is characterized in that it comprises an enclosed game surface; at least one game unit that can be moved over the enclosed game surface, on which unit, at least, one player can take place and means designed for reducing the friction between the game surface and the game unit moveable over it. The game unit may be an air cushion vehicle and the enclosed game surface may comprise interaction means similar to a pinball machine. RFID may be used to identify the game units. The action of the interaction means may be dependent on the game unit identification.



Inventors:
Van Der, Burgt Marius Peter Carolus (Bladel, NL)
Van Der, Meijden Robert Fransiscus Antonius (St. Oedenrode, NL)
Application Number:
12/296053
Publication Date:
12/03/2009
Filing Date:
04/04/2007
Assignee:
Highropes B.V. (Veghel, NL)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
463/46
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
STANCZAK, MATTHEW BRIAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LEYDIG VOIT & MAYER, LTD (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
1. A game apparatus for one or more persons, comprising an enclosed game surface; at least one game unit movable over the enclosed game surface, on which unit at least one player can be seated; and means for reducing the friction between the game surface and the game unit moveable over it, wherein friction reducing means comprise a plurality of regularly spaced openings in the game surface, and pressure means for feeding a pressurized medium through the openings, wherein the openings are each closable by a spherical element, wherein in the closed position the spherical element extends above the game surface and wherein the at least one game unit comprises a flat supporting plate which is adapted to contact the spherical elements.

2. (canceled)

3. A game apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the game apparatus is designed for having the medium flow through the openings to the game surface.

4. A game apparatus according to claim 1, under the game surface, at least one pressure space is present, that can be pressurized by the pressure means with the aid of the medium.

5. A game apparatus according to claim 3, wherein the game surface is composed of several sections that can be coupled to each other, while each section is built up from a partial game surface with one or more partial pressure spaces extending therebeneath.

6. (canceled)

7. A game apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the game apparatus is provided per opening with closing means for closing off and releasing the openings again under the influence of a game unit while the medium can flow through the opening if a closing means associated with the opening releases the opening.

8. A game apparatus according to claim 7, wherein an opening is closed off by the closing means unless a game unit is present above the opening.

9. 9-13. (canceled)

14. A game apparatus according to at least claim 1, wherein on the supporting plate, at least one seat for at least one player is secured.

15. 15-24. (canceled)

25. A game apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the game apparatus comprises interaction means that can be arranged in the enclosed game surface, which interaction means are designed for influencing the movement of the game unit over the game surface.

26. 26-32. (canceled)

33. A game apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the game apparatus is provided with at least one interaction means arranged on or above the game surface and which is designed for influencing, in a controllable manner, the movement of the at least one game unit through application of a force to the at least one game unit.

34. A game apparatus according to claim 33, wherein the at least one game unit is provided with operating means for having a player of the game unit control at least one first interaction means.

35. A game apparatus according to claim 34, wherein the game apparatus is designed such that at least the first interaction means can be operated by a player of the at least one game unit only when the at least one game unit is present in a predetermined area of the game surface and wherein the first interaction means is present in the predetermined area.

36. 36-48. (canceled)

49. A game apparatus according to claim 33, wherein at least one interaction means is provided with a contact element, a movement of which relative to the game surface can be controlled, when the contact element is in contact with the at least one game unit, through movement of the contact element relative to the game surface, for applying a force to the at least one game unit.

50. 50-55. (canceled)

56. A game apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the enclosed game surface is at an angle of inclination to the horizontal.

57. (canceled)

58. A game unit for use in a game apparatus according to claim 1.

59. An interaction means for use in a game apparatus according to claim 1.

Description:

The invention relates to a game apparatus for one or more persons.

Game apparatuses for playing a game for one or more persons are known in all sorts of designs and uses. Known examples are, for instance, the use of pinball machines or table football tables or table tennis tables, wherein several players can play an amusement game against each other or with each other. The very object of the invention is to provide a novel game apparatus for one or more persons, whereby the person actively participates in the game but, above all, forms part of the game.

In accordance with the invention, to this end, the game apparatus is characterized in that it comprises an enclosed game surface; at least one game unit movable over the enclosed game surface, on which unit at least one player can be seated, and means designed for reducing the friction between the game surface and the game unit to be moved over it.

With this embodiment, an interactive game concept is designed wherein the player or players himself/themselves actively participate in the game, which improves the perception and pleasure in the game considerably.

With a specific embodiment, the friction reducing means comprise a large number of openings in the game surface, and pressure means for feeding a pressurized medium through the openings. In this manner, with the aid of the game unit, a player can move himself in a frictionless manner over the game surface, thereby rendering the perception of the game attractive but, most of all, random with respect to direction and interaction.

With a further embodiment, under the game surface, at least one pressure space is present that extends under the game surface and can be pressurized by the pressure means with the aid of the medium. In order to modularly extend and/or enlarge the game surface, in a special embodiment, the game surface can be composed of several sections that can be coupled to each other, while each section is built up from a partial game surface with one or more partial pressure spaces extending therebeneath. A section can cover, for instance, four neighbouring squares as shown in FIG. 1, which four squares form a larger square.

More particularly, the openings are closable to thus render the consumption of the pressurized medium as efficient as possible. In this manner, also, the effectiveness of the friction reducing means is enhanced.

More specifically, with one embodiment hereof, on the pressure space side is provided, around each opening, a chamber that can be flowed-through by the pressurized medium, in which chamber a spherical element can be received that can close off the opening under influence of the pressurized medium. Here, the chamber that can be flowed-through by the pressurized medium is composed as an upright edge extending around the opening.

In this manner, an effective use of the pressurized medium can be made, without too large a loss of unused pressurized medium, so that game perception and the interaction of the game unit with the player placed thereon are considerably enhanced.

More specifically, with one embodiment, the diameter of the opening is smaller than the diameter of the spherical closing element. Here, the improved functionality and/or interaction between the game unit and the game surface and the functionality of the friction reducing means is further enhanced in that, under the influence of the pressurized medium, the spherical closing element reaches partly through the opening, as far as the surface formed by the game surface.

In a specific embodiment, a game unit comprises a flat supporting plate which bears on the game surface. Here, on the supporting plate, at least one seat for at least one player is arranged, and further, for the protection of the player present on the game unit, a framework functioning as a screen for the player is fastened to the supporting plate.

For the purpose of a further, more interactive game perception, the game apparatus comprises interaction means that can be arranged in the enclosed game surface, which interaction means are designed for influencing the movement of the game unit over the game surface.

In this manner, movement of the game unit with the player placed thereon can be influenced randomly, thereby rendering the game perception more attractive.

With specific exemplary embodiments, the interaction means are fixedly arranged in the enclosed game surface, or the interaction means are movable over the enclosed game surface.

Optionally, the game interaction means can form part of the game unit, while, in a specific embodiment, the interaction means comprise at least one elastic or resilient contact element, or the interaction means comprise at least one extension element that can be actuated.

The above-mentioned exemplary embodiments influence the movement of the game unit over the game surface in an efficient but, above all, random, and hence attractive, manner, and, accordingly, influence the game perception of the player.

With a specific embodiment, this is characterized in that the extension element forms part of a piston/cylinder combination, while the interaction means may be designed as an upright edge surrounding the game surface.

For influencing the movement of the game unit over the game surface, the apparatus may further be designed such that the enclosed game surface is at an angle to the horizontal, while, optionally, the angle of inclination is adjustable.

The invention will be explained in further detail on the basis of a drawing, while in the drawings, successively:

FIG. 1 shows a top plan view of a first embodiment of a game apparatus according to the invention;

FIGS. 2A and 2B show cross-sections of different embodiments of a game apparatus as shown in FIG. 1;

FIGS. 3A-3C show various partial views of a game apparatus according to the invention;

FIG. 4A shows a first embodiment of a game unit for use in a game apparatus according to the invention;

FIG. 4B shows a second embodiment of game unit for use in a game apparatus according to the invention;

FIG. 5 shows a still further partial aspect of a game apparatus according to the invention;

FIG. 6 shows a top plan view of a second embodiment of a game apparatus according to the invention;

FIG. 7a shows a cross-section of a possible embodiment of an interaction means according to the invention before it is activated;

FIG. 7b shows the interaction means according to FIG. 7a in activated condition;

FIG. 7c shows a top plan view of the interaction means according to FIG. 7a, viewed in a direction of the arrow P in FIG. 7a;

FIG. 8a shows a top plan view of a different embodiment of a game unit according to the invention, viewed in a direction of the arrow R in FIG. 8b; and

FIG. 8b shows a cross-section of the game unit according to FIG. 8b.

For a better understanding of the invention, in the following description of the drawings, the parts corresponding in the different Figures are indicated with identical reference numerals.

In FIG. 1, schematically, a top plan view is shown of a game apparatus according to the invention.

The game apparatus 1 is formed by a game surface 2 that is enclosed by means of a screen or upright edge 1a. Over the game surface 2, a game unit 5 can be moved, on which game unit 5 one or more players can be seated. Hereinbelow, the game unit 5 will be explained in further detail, but here it is, as yet, represented in a schematic manner. Game apparatus 1 is equipped such that the game unit 5 and the player placed thereon can move randomly over the game surface 2, which random movement makes the game interactive, and also influences the perception of and the pleasure in the game in a positive manner.

In order to enable random, unexpected movements of the game unit over the game surface 2, the game surface 2 is provided with friction reducing means 3, which are schematically represented here. The friction reducing means 3 are provided in the game surface 2 in a manner such that they form a raster, which, for a proper understanding of the invention, is schematically represented on the basis of the raster lines 3a, 3b, respectively. Here, it is noted that the friction reducing means 3 are present on each intersection of the raster lines 3a and 3b.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the game surface 2 comprises a line-up position 2a where, before the start of the game, one or more game units 5 are arranged and are set in motion with the aid of introducing means 6 to be explained hereinbelow, whereupon they can enter the game surface 2.

In order to influence the movement of the game unit 5 in the game surface 2, at different locations in the game surface, interaction means 4a 4b 4c are arranged. These interaction means are provided in different embodiments in (on or above) the game surface and will hereinbelow be described in further detail. More specifically, the interaction means 4c are of a static nature, as they function only as a rebound surface, for changing the direction of the game unit 5 at the moment it contacts the interaction means.

In other embodiments, the interaction means 4a-4b are of active design and arranged fixedly or movably in (on or above) the game surface.

For an effective influence on and/or interaction with the movement of the game unit 5 over the game surface 2, the interaction means 4a-4c can be provided with at least one elastic or resilient contact element. In this manner, the interaction between the game unit 5 (and the players moved on it) and the interaction means is not experienced as bumpy, which influences the game perception in a positive manner.

In the exemplary embodiments 4a and 4b, the interaction means can comprise at least one extension element that can be actuated, which can be actively brought against the game unit 5 and thus actively influences the speed, but also the direction of the game unit 5 over the game surface 2. This too enhances the game perception as a result of this interactive form of play.

The object of the game is to maintain the game unit 5 for a specific period of time in the game surface 2, while its movement is influenced by the different interaction means 4a-4c. The game surface 2 is further provided with an exit 2b, and at the moment the game unit 5 (indicated here with 5″) leaves the game surface 2 via the exit 2b, the game is over for the respective player, and the game can be continued with another player who is introduced on the game unit 5 on the line-up position 2a on the game surface 2.

In the FIGS. 2a and 2b, exemplary embodiments of the apparatus 1 as shown in FIG. 1 are shown in more detail, and, more specifically, the operation of the friction reducing means.

As represented in FIG. 2a, under the game surface 2, a pressure space 7 is present extending under the entire game surface, which pressure space 7 can be pressurized by a pressurized medium. To this end, the apparatus 1 is also provided with pressure means 8, for instance a compressor or pump, which takes in air from outside the apparatus and pumps it, under pressure, to the pressure space 7.

On the other hand, in one embodiment (not represented), under the game surface 2, several contiguous pressure spaces 7 can extend, which can be pressurized, each separately, by a pressure unit, or are in pressure connection to each other, so that one pressure unit 8 can suffice for realizing the pressure build-up in the different pressure spaces. This offers the possibility to modularly extend and/or enlarge the game surface, so that the game apparatus can be adjusted in a more versatile manner to different game concepts.

With a different functional embodiment, the game surface 2 can be composed from several sections that can be coupled to each other, while each section is built up from a partial game surface with one or more partial pressure spaces extending therebeneath.

The game concept of the game apparatus according to the invention is directed towards the game surface 2 being provided with a large number of openings 30 which, as shown in FIG. 1, are provided in a raster in the game surface 1 and are schematically represented in FIG. 1 by the intersections of the raster lines 3a and 3b.

With reference to FIGS. 3a-3c in combination with the FIGS. 2a-2b, the different openings 30 are closable by a spherical element 34 that is confined thereto in a chamber 33 formed by an upright edge 31 arranged around the openings 30 provided with a formed-over confining edge).

Each chamber 33 is constructed such that, via a small opening 32, it is in open communication from the pressure chamber 7 with the outside environment above the game surface 2, via the openings 30. In FIG. 3a, the game apparatus 1 and, in particular, the friction reducing means 3 are represented in a condition of rest, so that, due to the absence of any excess pressure in the pressure space 7 present under the game surface 2, the spherical elements 34 take up a lowest position in the chamber 33 under the influence of gravity.

If air is introduced (indicated with reference numerals 8a) into the pressure space 7 by the pressure means 8 (compressor or pump), the pressurized medium will try to escape via the openings 32, the chamber 33 and the openings 30. The escape of excess pressure from these openings is counteracted by the spherical elements 34 which—as shown in FIG. 3b—are moved upwards by the excess pressure and close off the openings 30. In this manner, the air built up under pressure in the pressure chamber 7 cannot escape.

The friction reducing means 3 are constructed in a manner such that if the game unit 5 comes to rest on the game surface 2, this will locally, i.e. at the location the game unit 5 contacts the game surface 2, press the spherical elements 34 against the excess pressure that prevails in the pressure space 7 so that the pressurized medium can escape through the openings 30, via the opening 32, through the chamber 33, along the spherical elements 34. Owing to this phenomenon, the pressurized medium (air) will accumulate under the game unit 5, so that an air cushion or layer of air 8a′ is created, on which the game unit 5 comes to float. Optionally, the air can escape along the sides (indicated with reference numeral 8a″).

By arranging the game surface 2, in a preferred manner, and as represented in FIG. 2b, at an angle a relative to the horizontal 10, the game unit 5 will move over the game surface 2 under the influence of this gravity component. Here, each time, locally, spherical elements 34 will be pressed in, so that air can escape locally from the pressure space 7 via the respective chamber 33 and the respective openings 30 thus opened, for locally creating an air cushion on which the game unit 5 comes to rest and/or float.

After the game unit 5 has been moved further under the influence of the air pressure prevailing in the pressure space 7, pressed-in spherical elements 34 will be moved back by the air flow 8a to the embodiment shown in FIG. 3b, and thereby close off the opening 3. In this manner, only at the location where the game unit 5 rests on the game surface 2, and, accordingly, presses-in spherical elements 34, an air cushion is created by the air 8a-8a′-8a″ escaping there, while elsewhere all openings 30 are pressed-in by their corresponding spherical element 34 so that thus, no pressure loss can occur.

The angular setting a can be adjusted by means of suitable angle adjusting means 9, for instance a re-setting, depending on the desired game perception and/or game interaction one desires to play with the game apparatus 1 according to the invention.

In FIG. 4a, schematically, a first embodiment is shown of a game unit 5 as used in the game apparatus 1 according to the invention. Game unit 5 is provided with a flat supporting plate which bears on the game surface 2, on which plate at least one seat 52 is provided on which a player 60 can be seated. In view of the nature of the game, the seat 52 is provided with a so-called belt 53 the player 60 must use for reasons of safety. In order to further ensure the safety of the player 60, also, a screen 51 functioning as cage construction can be provided on the supporting plate 50.

Analogous to the interaction means 4a and 4b, the game unit 5 can also be provided with interaction means 40-40′, which can be operated and/or actuated by the player 60 with the aid of a control 45, as shown in FIG. 4a. In a different embodiment, the interaction means 40-40′ (or several interaction means) can be remotely actuated and adjusted by the audience.

Analogously to the interaction means 4a and 4b, the interaction means 40-40′ have at least one extension element 41-41′ that can be actuated and that may further be provided with an elastic or resilient contact element. Preferably, the extension element 41-41′ is mounted on an axle 42-42′ which may form part of a piston cylinder combination 43-43′. Operating and/or actuating the extension element 41-41′ takes place on the basis of, for instance, the control 45 which can be actuated by the player 60. The control 45 is then connected by means of signal connections 44-44′ to the piston cylinder combination 43, 43′, respectively. However, it is also possible to have the reciprocal movement of the interaction element and/or contact element 41-41′ take place in manners other than on the basis of a piston-cylinder combination.

It should be noted that the introducing means 6 and the interaction means 4a-4b, which are arranged actively and fixedly or movably in the game surface 2, can be designed a similar manner as shown in FIG. 4. Here, it is noted that the interaction means 4b as shown in FIG. 1 can be provided with an extension element designed as a surface, as shown in FIG. 4a.

In FIG. 4b (with corresponding reference numerals) a second, more passively designed game unit is shown, without the interaction means, as was the case in the embodiment of FIG. 4a. Here, a bucket seat is used and a different cage construction as safety measure. Optionally, the player 60 may be provided with a remote control 45 for radiographically operating, for instance, the interaction means 4b near the exit 2b of the game surface 2.

In FIG. 5, an embodiment of an interaction means is represented, as indicated in FIG. 1 by reference numeral 4a. Here, the interaction means 4a (indicated in FIG. 5 with 40″) have a circular form and, in this embodiment, they are provided with four inwardly and outwardly moveable extension elements 41a″-41d″, which are each mounted on one or several supporting arms 42a″-42d″. The supporting arms 42a″-42d″ can be slid in and out (see the double arrows in FIG. 5) with the aid of an actuating unit 43″ which may comprise several piston-cylinder combinations. However, it is also noted here that the movement of the different extension elements 41a″-41d″ can take place in different manners.

Although, in FIG. 5, an interaction means 40″ is shown, provided with four segment-shaped extension elements, it is also possible to provide such an interaction means with two, three or more than four extension elements.

In general, the interaction means 40″ are to function autonomously, i.e., at the moment a game unit 5 contacts one of the extension elements 41a″-41d″, the respective extension element bounces in briefly and is then forced, under the influence of the actuating unit 43″, into an accelerated movement outward. As a result, the impulse thus given to the extension element 41a″-41d″, is transmitted to the game unit 5, so that this latter is, as it were, “launched” by the apparatus 1 over the game surface 2, preferably in a different, random direction at a different, surprising speed.

Optionally, the different interaction means 4a-4b can be remotely operated by the audience present around the game surface 2 to thus influence the movement of the game unit 5 and the player present thereon. In particular, the game interactions means 4b near the exit 2b of the game surface 2 can be operated by the audience to thus frustrate a premature exit of the game unit 5 (and the player placed thereon) from the game surface 2.

FIG. 6 shows a second embodiment of game apparatus according to the invention. Here, parts corresponding to FIG. 1 are provided with the same reference numerals. In this example, the game apparatus is provided with a first interaction means 4b-1 and a first interaction means 4b-2. In this example, the first interaction means 4b-1 and the first interaction means 4b-2 are each designed as a flipper. To this end, in this example, the first interaction means 4b-1 is provided with a contact element 100 which is rotatable about a rotation axis 102. The first interaction means 4b-1 is further provided with a motor 104 for moving the contact element 100 to and fro about the rotation axis 102. In this manner, with the aid of the motor 104, through rotation about the rotation axis 102, the contact element can be moved in the direction of the arrow 106 and be moved back in a direction opposite the direction of the arrow 106.

Completely analogously, the first interaction means 4b-2 is provided with a contact element 108 which is rotatable about a rotation axis 110 with the aid of a motor 112 of the first interaction means 4b-2. With the aid of the motor 112, the contact element 108 can be moved in the direction of the arrow 114 and be moved back in a direction opposite to the arrow 114. Thus, the first interaction means 4b-1 and the first interaction means 4b-2 are each designed as flippers. Through rotation of the contact element 100 about the rotation axis 102 and through rotation of the contact element 108 about the rotation axis 110, a distance between free extremities of the contact elements 108 and 100 can be reduced so that a game unit cannot leave the game surface via the exit 2b and can even be propelled back.

For the interaction means 4b-1 and 4b-2 it therefore holds that they are arranged above the game surface and that they are each designed for influencing, in a controllable manner, the movement of at least one game unit by applying a force to the at least one game unit.

In this example, it further holds that the game units 5-1, 5-2 and 5-3 are each provided with operating means 116 for control, in this example, by a player of the game unit of the first interaction means 4b-1 and the first interaction means 4b-2. Here, the operating means may be provided with a button that can be pressed by a player. Here, the operating means may further be provided with a transmitter for transmitting an activating signal when the respective button is pressed. In this example, the first interaction means 4b-1 is provided with a schematically indicated receiver 118, which, upon reception of the activating signal, can drive the motor 104 so that a contact element 100 is moved in the direction of the arrow 106. Completely analogously, the second interaction means 4b-2 is provided with a receiver 120 schematically indicated in the drawing, which receiver, upon reception of the activating signal, can drive the motor 112 for moving the contact element 108 in the direction of the arrow 114. Thus, for instance when a user of the game unit 5.2 is in danger of leaving the game via the exit 2b, he can operate his operating means 116 for activating the first interaction means 4b-1 and 4b-2. Then, the first interaction means propel the game unit 5-2 back into the game. After the first interaction means have moved in the direction of the arrow 106 or 114, respectively, they return to the position of rest as shown in FIG. 6.

However, in this example it further holds that the game apparatus is designed such that the first interaction means 4b-1 and the first interaction means 4b-2 can be operated by a player of the game unit 5-1, 5-2 or 5-3 only when the respective game unit is present in a predetermined area of the game surface. In FIG. 6, this respective area is represented in hatching and indicated with reference numeral 122. In the area 122, for the sake of clarity, the raster 3a is not indicated. As is clear from the drawing, the first interaction means 4b-1 is present in predetermined area 122. The first interaction means 4b-2 is also present in the predetermined area 122.

More particularly, it holds in this example that the game apparatus is provided with a plurality of game units 5-1, 5-2, and 5-3, which are each provided with an identification code, while the game apparatus is further provided with detection means 124 for determining the identification code of the respective game unit when this is at least in a predetermined detection area 126. In this example, the detection area 126 coincides with the earlier mentioned area 122. In this example, each game unit is provided with an RFID-label 128 known per se, while in each of these labels a unique identification code is stored. In this example, the detection means 124 are designed for generating an electromagnetic interrogation field in the detection area 126 for reading out the identification code stored in the RFID-label with the aid of the electromagnetic interrogation field. In this example, the detection means 124 generate a control signal ĉ which is supplied to the receiver 118 and 120 and which, furthermore, comprises information about the detected unique identification code. When the operating means 116 of, for instance, the game unit 5-2 are activated, this activating means transmits the activating signal, which activating signal further comprises information about the unique identification code stored in the RFID-label of the game unit 5-2. To this end, this identification code can also be stored in, for instance, the operating means 116. This all holds mutatis mutandis for the game unit 5-1 and 5-3, which, however, have their own unique identification code. The receivers 118 and 120 are designed such that they drive the motors 104 and 112 only when the information in the control signal ĉ about the identification code coincides with the information about the identification code in the received activating signal. The effect hereof is that, upon reception of an activating signal, the receivers 118 and 120 activate the motors 104 and 112 only when the activating signal comes from a game unit present in the detection area. The rationale behind this is that only a game unit present in the detection area can activate the first interaction means 4b-1 and 4b-2 with the aid of its operating means 116. What is prevented in this manner is that for instance the game unit 5-1, present outside the detection area, through actuation of its operating means 116 might actuate the first interaction means and thus unexpectedly hit another game unit such as, in this example, for instance, the game unit 5.2, and thereby influence its movement.

According to this embodiment of the invention it therefore holds that the game units are each provided with an identification code, the game apparatus further being provided with detection means 124 for determining the identification code of a game unit when this is present in the predetermined detection area of the game surface, while control of at least one interaction means (in this example the first interaction means 4b-1 and the first interaction means 4b-2) depends on the detection of an identification code.

In particular it therefore holds here that the game apparatus is designed such that the first interaction means 4b-1 and the first interaction means 4b-2 can be activated for influencing the movement of a respective game unit of a plurality of game units present only when the operating means of the respective game unit are operated and when the identification code of the respective game unit is detected in the detection area 126.

It therefore also holds that the game apparatus is designed such that during operation of the operating means of the respective game unit, this game unit provides information about the identification code of the respective game unit, the game apparatus being further designed for activating the first interaction means 4b-1 and 4b-2 only when the information about an identification code provided during operation of the operating means of a game unit coincides with the identification code that is detected of a game unit present in the detection area.

The activating signal generated by the operating means can comprise information in a manner known per se about the identification code associated with a game unit of the operating means. This information can be encrypted in the activating signal. The dimension of the transmitted activating signal can, for instance, represent the identification code in an unambiguous manner. A modulation of the activating signal can also represent this information. In this example, it further holds that the game apparatus is designed such that the first interaction means 4b-1 and the first interaction means 4b-2 can be activated for influencing the respective game unit only when it furthermore holds that the detected identification code coincides with at least a predetermined identification code. This latter may be realized in the following manner.

At the start of the game for a game unit, an identification code of the game unit is entered by, for instance, an administrator of the game apparatus into a schematically indicated computer 130. Hence, the computer 130 comprises a list of identification codes of games units that are (or may be) in the game. When the identification means 124 receives an identification code, it verifies whether the respective identification code is stored in the computer 130. Only when this is the case, it will transmit the activating signal ĉ to the receivers 118 and 120. Therefore, if the identification code appears in the list of the computer 130, the first interaction means 4b-1 and the first interaction means 4b-2 can be activated by the operating means 116 of the respective game unit, if the respective game unit is present in the detection area 126. The detection means 124 may wirelessly retrieve the list of identification codes from the computer 130 in order to verify whether the selected identification code appears in the list. When the game-administrator decides that the game has stopped for, for instance, the game unit 5-2, he can remove the identification code of the game unit 5-2 from the list of the computer 130. When, thereupon, the game unit 5-2 enters into the detection area 126, and when a player wants to activate the first interaction means 4b-1 and 4b-2 through operation of its operating means 116, while game unit 5-2 is present in the detection area 126, the first interaction means 4b-1 and the first interaction means 4b-2 will not be activated. It is thus ensured that the game unit 5-2 will soon leave the game via the exit 2b.

It is noted that, naturally, it is possible to arrange a detection means 124.1 at the first interaction means 4b-1, and to arrange another detection means 124.2 at the first interaction means 4b-2. In that case, the game apparatus is designed such that the first interaction means 4b-1 or the first interaction means 4b-2 can be operated by a player of the at least one game unit only when the at least one game unit is within a predetermined distance from the first interaction means 4b-1 or within a predetermined distance from the interaction means 4b-2, respectively. These distances each determine a detection zone of the detection means 124.1 and 124.2, respectively, while these zones can partly overlap.

In this example, the game apparatus is further provided with second interaction means 4a-1, 4a-2 and 4a-3, which are each designed as a pop bumper. In this example, the second interaction means 4a-1, 4a-2 and 4a-3 are of a type as will be discussed hereinafter on the basis of FIGS. 7a, 7b and 7c. It suffices here to note that each second interaction means is provided with at least one sensor designed for detecting when a game unit touches the interaction means, while the game apparatus is designed for activating the interaction means for influencing the movement of the game unit when this game unit is detected by the sensor. Therefore, when a game unit collides with, for instance, a second interaction means 4a-1, this will be detected by the sensor of this interaction means, whereupon the interaction means is activated for influencing the movement of the game unit colliding with it.

In particular it holds that the game apparatus is designed such that the second interaction means 4a-1 can be activated for influencing the movement of the respective game unit of the plurality of game units only when the identification code of the respective game unit is detected in at least a second predetermined detection area 132, and the detected identification code coincides with at least a predetermined identification code. The detection area of the second interaction means 4a-1 is represented in oblique hatching while, for the sake of clarity, the raster 3a is not shown. In this example, this is realized in that the second interaction means 4a-1 is provided with a detection means 124′ of a type as described hereinabove. The detection means 124′ transmits an electromagnetic interrogation field into the second detection area 132 indicated in hatching. When, for instance, the game unit 5-1 enters the second detection area 132, the RFID-label 128 of the game unit 5-1 can be read out with the aid of the detection means 124′. A detection means 124′ operates completely analogously to the detection means 124 as described hereinabove. The detection means 124′ therefore verifies whether the identification code it read out appears on the list of the computer 130. Only when this appears to be the case, the detection means 124 generates a verification signal ĉ. When this sensor detects a collision with the game unit 5-1, and when, furthermore, the detection means 124′ generates the verification signal, the second interaction means is activated for influencing the movement of the game unit 5-1. When the respective identification code of the game unit 5-1 does not appear in the list of the computer 130, this has as a result that when the game unit 5-1 collides with the second interaction means 4a-1, this is not activated in spite of the sensor of the second interaction means 4a-1 detecting this collision. In this example, it holds that the second interaction means is present in the predetermined second detection area 132.

In this example, the second interaction means 4a-1, 4a-2 and 4a-3 are of similar design. The result is that when an identification code of, for instance, the game unit 5-1 is removed from the list of the computer 130, its movement can no longer be influenced by the second interaction means 4a-1, 4a-2 and 4a-3, which causes the respective game unit to quickly exit the game via the exit 2b.

Also for the second interaction means 4a-1, 4a-2 and 4a-3 it holds that, completely analogously to what is described hereinabove, they are each provided with a contact element 100, a movement of which relative to the game surface can be controlled, when the contact element is in contact with the at least one game unit, through movement of the contact element relative to the game surface, for applying a force to the respective game unit. All this will be explained in further detail with reference to FIGS. 7a, 7b and 7c. In that example, it holds that the contact element 100 is provided with a horizontal, loop-shaped, upright flexible sidewall 140 closed upon itself. Viewed in vertical direction (indicated in the drawing with the arrow V), the upright sidewall 140 has a convex, curved outer surface so that the upright sidewall has the shape of a tire of a wheel. The interaction means 4a-1 is further provided with a lower frame 142 on which the upright sidewall rests and an upper frame 144 that rests on the upright sidewall. The interaction means 4a-1 is further provided with a drivable actuator 146 for moving the lower frame 142 and the upper frame 144 towards each other. When the lower frame and the upper frame are moved towards each other in the direction of the arrows B1 and B2, the curvature of the outer surface of the upright sidewall will increase as can be clearly seen in FIG. 7b. The actuator 146 may be designed as a hydraulic actuator. Therefore, it holds that a diameter d1 in a horizontal plane of the loop-shaped upright sidewall 140 increases upon increase of the curvature for influencing the movement of a game unit which is in contact with the outside of the upright sidewall 140.

In this example, it further holds that the interaction means 4a-1 is provided with at least one sensor 148, designed for detecting when a game unit touches the upright wall. In this example, the sensor 148 is arranged at an inside of the upright sidewall 140 and concerns a displacement transducer. The game apparatus is further designed for activating the at least one actuator 146 for influencing the movement of the game unit when this game unit is detected by the sensor. To this end, the interaction means 4a-1 is provided with a control unit 150 to which signals from the sensor 148 are fed. In this example, the control unit 150 is designed such that it activates the activator 146 for moving the lower frame 142 and the upper frame 144 towards each other when it is detected, with the aid of the sensor 148, upon collision of a game unit with the upright sidewall 140, that the movement of the sidewall as a result of the collision, has stopped. The fact is that when a game unit collides with the upright sidewall 140, it will be dented to a particular maximum value. This denting, that is, the inward movement of the upright sidewall, stops when a maximum value of denting is achieved. This is the moment at which the activator 146 is to be activated for influencing the movement of the game unit by moving the lower frame and the upper frame towards each other so that thus, the diameter d1 increases rapidly, effecting the game unit to be pushed away from the interaction means. The control unit 150 is thus designed for controlling the activator 146 depending on the information about the movement of the upright sidewall 140 obtained with the aid of the sensor. Preferably, the interaction means 4a-1 is provided with a plurality of such sensors which are arranged in a manner distributed along an inside of the wall 140 and which are each connected to the control unit 150 for measuring a collision with a game unit along the entirely circumferential outside surface.

In this example, if further holds that the interaction means 4a-1 can be provided with detection means 124 of a type as described hereinabove. Once more, the detection means 124 is designed for generating an electromagnetic interrogation field and, hence, reading out an identification code from a label when this is in a detection area associated with the respective detection means 124. In this example, the detection means 124 is further designed for verifying whether a read-out identification code appears on a list of identification codes stored in the computer 130. The detection means may retrieve the list wirelessly from the computer 130 for carrying out the verification. When this appears not to be the case while still, with the aid of the sensor 148, a movement of the upright sidewall 140 is measured, the control unit 150 effects that the activator 146 is not activated. This happens only when, on the one hand, a collision with the game unit is measured with the aid of the sensor 148 and when, on the other hand, an identification code of this game unit is read out with the aid of the identification means 124 of the RFID-label which appears in list of the computer 130.

Finally, in FIGS. 8a and 8b, a special embodiment of a game unit 5 is shown that can be used with each of the above-described game apparatuses. The game unit is provided with a supporting plate 50 and a bumper edge 152 extending around the supporting plate 50. On the supporting plate are placed a plurality of seats 154-1, 154-2, 154-3, 154-4. It holds in particular that on a supporting plate, at least three seats are secured and more particularly, that on the supporting plate, at least four seats are secured. In this example, on the supporting plate, four seats are secured while each seat is designed to be used by a player.

The seats 154-1 and 154-2 are placed next to each other, while the players seated in these seats look in the same direction. Completely analogously, the seats 154-3 and 154-4 are placed next to each other with the players of these seats also looking in the same direction. Conversely, the seats 154-1 and 154-4 are placed back to back. It also holds that the seat 154-2 and the seat 154-3 are placed back to back. A seating of the seat 154-1 is indicated with reference numeral 156-1. A seating of the seat 154-2 is indicated with reference numeral 156-2. Completely analogously, the seatings 156-3 and 156-4 of the seats are indicated with reference numeral 154-3 and 154-4. The seats are further provided with backs, indicated, for each of the seats, with reference numeral 148. It further holds that a center of gravity of the seat 154-1 is indicated with reference numeral 160-1. Completely analogously are indicated the centers of gravity 160-2, 160-3, 160-4 of the respective seatings 152-2, 156-3, 156-4. Further, in the drawing, a center of gravity of the supporting plate 50 is indicated with reference numeral 162. It holds that a distance h1 between the center of gravity 160-1 of the seat and the center of gravity 162 of the supporting plate is less than 50% of a minimum width b1 of the game surface measured through the center of gravity 162 of the game surface. In the example, the minimum width of the game surface, measured through the center of gravity of the game surface, is indicated in the drawing with b1, is approximately 230 cm. The distance h1 between the center of gravity 160-1 and the center of gravity 162 is approximately equal to 46 cm. Therefore, the distance h1 is less than 30% of the distance b1. An advantage of such a variant is that, in use, the supporting plate can remain completely free of the game surface even though only one seat is taken. As all seats are located relatively close to the center of gravity of the supporting plate, the supporting plate has, in cooperation with the friction reducing means, a great stability which is little dependent on the number of players present on the game unit. This is the case in particular when the distance h1 is less than 30% of the distance d1. Still, the advantages mentioned can also be achieved, albeit to a lesser degree, when the distance h is less than 50% and preferably less than 40% of the diameter d1. Preferably, the distance h1 is less than 30% of the diameter d1.

In this example, it further holds that the distance h2 between the center of gravity 160-2 and the center of gravity 162 is equal to h1. Completely analogously it holds that the distance between the center of gravity 160-3 and the center of gravity 162 is equal to h1. It also holds that the distance between the center of gravity 160-4 and the center of gravity 162 is equal to h1. Here, for the sake of clarity, the distances h3 and h4 are not represented in the drawing. Further, the game unit is provided for each seat with two operating means 116.

The invention is not limited in any manner to the embodiment outlined hereinabove. For instance, the game units and the interaction means can have shapes different than described hereinabove. The number of game units and the number of interaction means can also be varied per game apparatus. Also, the identification codes mentioned can be determined in a different manner than with the aid of RFID-labels. RFID-labels can for instance be replaced with an active transmitter and receiver apparatus that responds by transmitting the identification code when this receives the electromagnetic interrogation field. Such variants are each understood to fall within the framework of the invention as described in the following claims.