Title:
GAMING METHOD, GAMING SYSTEM AND GAME CONTROLLER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A gaming method including: triggering generation of a game outcome for a game of chance, based on use of a communication network service by a user; determining any award to be made to the user for the game outcome; and making the award to the user.



Inventors:
Salmon, Christian James (Maidstone, AU)
Application Number:
12/495072
Publication Date:
12/31/2009
Filing Date:
06/30/2009
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:
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20090239628Gaming System with Common Display and Control Method of Gaming SystemSeptember, 2009Fujimori et al.
20050153769Gaming machine having a shuffle feature and a simultaneous multiple award featureJuly, 2005Casey et al.
20060166742Method for advertisement service provider wholesalingJuly, 2006Willis et al.
20090264181GAMING SYSTEM, A SOUND CONTROLLER, AND A METHOD OF GAMINGOctober, 2009Timperley
20100066019Reusable Card-Based Gaming System and MethodMarch, 2010Jenkins
20080045334Method for progressive card game tournamentFebruary, 2008Shvili
20080136106Method of playing poker gameJune, 2008Toyoda
20080125207Refund gameMay, 2008Borissov



Primary Examiner:
MCCULLOCH JR, WILLIAM H
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Aristocrat Technologies, Inc. c/o Armstrong et al. (St. Louis, MO, US)
Claims:
1. A gaming method comprising the steps of: triggering generation of a game outcome for a game of chance, based on use of a communication network service by a user; determining any award to be made to the user for the game outcome; and making the award to the user.

2. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein an award is made to a user is redeemable for further network service use.

3. A method as claimed in claim 2, wherein the award is credit added to a user's network service access account.

4. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein the triggering occurs on access to a communication network service.

5. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein the triggering occurs based on credit use for a service.

6. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein the triggering occurs based on service usage time.

7. A method as claimed in claim 1, further comprising the step of notifying the user of any award made.

8. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein the game outcome is generated based on a probability algorithm.

9. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein the game outcome is generated based on a lottery algorithm.

10. A system for automatically playing a game of chance, the system comprising: a game controller adapted to generate an outcome for a game of chance; and a network service provider module in data communication with the game controller, the network service provider module being adapted to automatically trigger the game controller to generate a game outcome based on a user accessing a network service, and make any award for a game outcome to the user.

11. A system as claimed in claim 10, wherein any award made to a user is redeemable for further communication network service use.

12. A system as claimed in claim 11, wherein subscriber records accessible by the network service provider module are stored for each communication network user and the subscriber data stored for each user includes subscriber credit data.

13. A system as claimed in claim 12, wherein the award made is credit added to a user's subscriber credit data.

14. A system as claimed in claim 10, wherein the triggering occurs on access to a network service.

15. A system as claimed in claim 10, wherein the triggering occurs based on credit use for a service.

16. A system as claimed in claim 10, wherein the triggering occurs based on service usage time.

17. A system as claimed in claim 10, wherein the network service provider module is further adapted to notify the user of any award made.

18. A system as claimed in claim 10, wherein the game controller comprises: a random result generator; and a processor implementing an outcome generator adapted to generate a game outcome based on a generated random result.

19. A system as claimed in claim 18, wherein the game outcome is generated based on a probability algorithm.

20. A system as claimed in claim 18, wherein the game outcome is generated based on a lottery algorithm.

21. A game controller adapted to: receive a message from a communication network service provider indicating to trigger playing of a game of chance for a user; generate of at least one random result; generate a game outcome based on the generated random result; and provide game outcome data to the communication network service provider, whereby any award for the game outcome can be made by the network service provider.

22. A game controller as claimed in claim 21, wherein the game outcome is generated based on a probability algorithm.

23. A game controller as claimed in claim 21, wherein the game outcome is generated based on a lottery algorithm.

24. 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 computer processor, cause the computer to implement functions of a game controller adapted to: receive a message from a communication network service provider indicating to trigger playing of a game of chance for a user; generate of at least one random result; generate a game outcome based on the generated random result; and provide game outcome data to the communication network service provider, whereby any award for the game outcome can be made by the network service provider.

25. 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 computer processor, cause the computer to implement functions of a network service provider module adapted to: send a message to a game controller in response to user of a communication network service by a user, to trigger the game controller to generate a game outcome; receive game outcome data from the game controller; and make any award for a game outcome to the user.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims the benefit of priority to Australian Provisional Patent Application No. 2008903327, filed on Jun. 30, 2008, entitled “GAMING METHOD, GAMING SYSTEM AND GAME CONTROLLER”, which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The field of the invention is gaming systems and methods whereby players access a game controller via a communication network.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Game controllers employing random result generators, such as random number generators or pseudo-random number generators, to generate game outcomes are known. Known gaming systems can include a game controller for controlling game play and one or more player interfaces. Player interfaces are used by players to enter game play instructions and receive game outcomes. In some known gaming systems player interfaces are connected to the game controller via a communication network to enable a player to play a game using a mobile user device such as a mobile phone.

There is a need for alternative games, systems and methods utilizing communication network accessible game controllers.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to one aspect there is provided a gaming method including the steps of:

triggering generation of a game outcome for a game of chance, based on use of a communication network service by a user;

determining any award to be made to the user for the game outcome; and

making the award to the user.

According to another aspect there is provided a system for automatically playing a game of chance, the system including:

a game controller adapted to generate an outcome for a game of chance; and

a network service provider module in data communication with the game controller, the network service provider module being adapted to automatically trigger the game controller to generate a game outcome based on a user accessing a network service, and make any award for a game outcome to the user.

An award made to a user can be redeemable for further network service use. For example, the award can be credit added to a user's network service access account.

In one embodiment, triggering of the game of chance occurs on access to a communication network service.

In another embodiment, triggering of the game of chance occurs based on credit use for a service.

In a further embodiment, triggering occurs based on service usage time.

An embodiment of the method can further include the step of notifying the user of any award made.

In an embodiment of the system, subscriber records, accessible by the network service provider module, are stored for each communication network user and the subscriber data stored for each user includes subscriber credit data. In this embodiment the award can be credit added to a user's subscriber credit data.

The network service provider module can be further adapted to notify the user of any award made.

In one embodiment of the system the game controller includes:

a random result generator; and

an outcome generator adapted to generate a game outcome based on a generated random result.

According to another aspect there is provided a game controller adapted to:

receive a message from a communication network service provider indicating to trigger playing of a game of chance for a user;

generate of at least one random result;

generate a game outcome based on the generated random result; and

provide game outcome data to the communication network service provider, whereby any award for the game outcome can be made by the network service provider.

In one embodiment the game outcome is generated based on a probability algorithm.

In an alternative embodiment the game outcome is generated based on a lottery algorithm.

According to another aspect there is provided a computer program code including a set of instructions which, when executed by a computer processor, cause the computer to implement functions of a game controller adapted to:

receive a message from a communication network service provider indicating to trigger playing of a game of chance for a user;

generate of at least one random result;

generate a game outcome based on the generated random result; and

provide game outcome data to the communication network service provider, whereby any award for the game outcome can be made by the network service provider.

According to another aspect there is provided computer program code including a set of instructions which, when executed by a computer processor, cause the computer to implement functions of a network service provider module adapted to:

send a message to a game controller in response to user of a communication network service by a user, to trigger the game controller to generate a game outcome;

receive game outcome data from the game controller; and

make any award for a game outcome to the user.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Certain embodiments, incorporating 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 game of chance via a communication network.

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

FIG. 3 is a flowchart illustrating an example of a game of chance triggering and 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 automatically playing a game of chance when a network service is used. Use of a network service by a user triggers generation of a game outcome for a game of chance. Any award for the game outcome is determined and made to the user. The award can be made through the network service, for example as credit redeemable for further network service use.

In an embodiment, illustrated in FIG. 1, the game of chance is played using a game controller 110 in communication with a communication network access provider of a communication network 120 which triggers play of the game of chance for a user based on the user accessing communication network services using a communication device 130. A user's network connected communication device 130, can be a mobile phone, personal digital assistant, personal computer, laptop or palmtop computer or the like.

For example, a user of a mobile phone 130 initiates a phone call to mobile phone 150, as part of the call request processing to establish the call connection through the network, the communication network service provider 120 sends a message to the game controller 110 to trigger play of a game of chance. The game controller 110 generates a game outcome, for example using a random number generator and defined game rules, and provides game outcome information back to the network service provider. The game outcome may indicate a win for the user for which an award can be made. In an embodiment the award is credit added to a user account, the credit can be redeemed for network services.

An embodiment of a system for automatically playing a game of chance when network services are accessed is illustrated in FIG. 2. The system includes a game controller 210 and a network service provider module 240 adapted for data communication with the game controller 210.

The game controller 210 of this embodiment includes a random result generator 215 and an outcome generator 205. A person skilled in the art will understand that the random result generator may 215 be a random number generator, a pseudo-random number generator, or other type of random result generator including a mechanical random result generator such as a dice roller, spinning wheel or card dealer. The outcome generator 205 is adapted to determine a game outcome based on the generated random result. The game controller 210 is any device adapted to control game play and can include any suitable combination of software, hardware and firmware to process game play instructions in accordance with game play rules. In the embodiment illustrated the game controller is implemented using a processor. Herein the term “processor” is used to refer generically to any device that can process game play instructions in accordance with game play rules and may include: a microprocessor, microcontroller, programmable logic device or other computational device, a general purpose computer (e.g. a PC) or a server. Although the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2 includes a random number generator 215 implemented in the game controller processor, any type of random result generator in data communication with the game controller 210 may be used. For example, the random result generator 215 may be external to the game controller 210.

The network service provider module 240 can be integrated into a network service provider system which provides network service access and connectivity for network users. Alternatively, the network provider module may be an “add on” module for the network service provider system adapted to:

monitor network service use by users;

trigger the game controller to play a game of chance for a user based on a user's network service use;

receive any game outcome data generated by the game controller for the user; and

make any award for the game outcome.

For example the network service provider module 240 may be implemented using a database and server in data communication with or embedded in a network service provider's subscriber billing server. A subscriber requests access to a communication network by lifting a phone handset or logging on to a network server. A signal is sent to the billing system to check the user's account and allow or deny access according to the account status. The billing system may be adapted to send a signal to the network service provider module 240 when network access is allowed. In response the network module sends a trigger signal to the game controller for play of the game of chance. A person skilled in the art will appreciate that these modules may be implemented using a variety of architectures and all possible alternatives are contemplated with in the scope of this application.

The network module 240 may trigger the game of chance when a specific network service activity is performed, for example connecting a voice telephone call, using a messaging service, internet access, using a GPS service etc. Alternatively or additionally triggering of the game of chance may occur based on other aspects of network service use. For example, a game of chance may be triggered based on charges incurred for a network service, such as a game triggered for every one dollar of credit used. In another example, a game of chance may be triggered based on service use time, such as a game triggered for every thirty minutes spent using an internet connection or every five minutes of a voice telephone call. In another example a game of chance may be triggered based the amount of data transferred using a data service, for example a game triggered for every ten megabytes of data transferred. Thus, several games of chance may be played while using a network service.

Rules applied for triggering play of a game of chance may vary depending on the embodiments implemented and also in accordance with the types of network services provided and charging models. In an embodiment a game of chance may always be played for each network service use. For example, a triggering rule may define that a game of chance is played only for every tenth SMS message sent. The rule may be applied for a single user so that a game is triggered for every tenth SMS message sent by the user. Alternatively the rule may be applied for a group of users, for example for every tenth message handled by a particular network message server, such that triggering play of the game of chance becomes a random event from an individual user's perspective.

The game controller 210 uses an outcome of a random result generation process to generate a game outcome. For example, the game controller 210 may, in response to a message from the network service provider module 240, trigger the random number generator 215 to generate a random number which is applied by the game outcome generator to determine a game outcome. Game outcomes can be generated using any game of chance outcome generation method. For example the game controller may apply a probability algorithm, lottery algorithm or other algorithm for determining game outcomes.

The network service provider module can store subscriber records 245 or be in data communication with a subscriber register which stores subscriber records 245 for network subscribers. Subscriber records include subscriber data such as contact information, communication device data, preferences etc, such information may be stored in a database. In an embodiment the subscriber record may also store credit data 248 indicating a credit value available for accessing network services. The subscriber may subscribe to a suite of network services such as voice, messaging, data, Internet etc. Use of each service may incur a payment, which is deducted from the credit data 248 for the subscribers account.

In an embodiment any award for the game of chance is a credit value added to the user's account, which can then be redeemed for further network service use. Depending on the charging model used by the network service provider a subscriber's credit balance may have a negative value, alternatively a subscriber may be required to have a positive credit balance value to access network services.

In an alternative embodiment, awards may be related to specific network services, for example a number of SMS messages which may be made free of charge, or access to an additional service which is not part of a user's regular subscription, such as free use of a mobile phone viewable television service for three days or a free song download from an MP3 site. Such awards may be made to users to encourage increased communication network service use or to encourage the user to trial and subscribe to additional services. In some embodiments such awards may be made in addition to credit value awards, whether a credit value or other award is made may depend on the game outcome.

Alternatively awards can include merchandise, vouchers or other prizes which may be sent to the user or redeemed through retail outlets.

An example of a user device 230 suitable for use with the system 200 is illustrated in FIG. 2. The device 230 typically 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 processor 288, is a processing device such as a microprocessor or the like, adapted to control device functions and execute software programs stored in the device memory 270. The processor 288 and memory 270 architecture may vary depending on the type of user device. For example the user device may be a personal computer or laptop computer, mobile phone, personal digital assistant etc. The user input and output interface 284 includes a display 286 and any combination of interfaces in accordance with the style of device, for example keypad, keyboard, microphone, data input and output ports, video capture etc.

In some embodiments game outcome data can be forwarded to the user device 230. In an embodiment the game outcome data may simply be a text message indicating the prize credit value won. Outcome data can also be presented using a picture, animation or voice message.

Alternative embodiments are also envisaged where the game outcomes and any prizes can be represented to the user in an entertaining manner. The game outcome and award data may be presented in a manner which enables a user to view a representation of the game of chance being played and any award. For example, an animation of a dice being rolled and showing two fives may indicate ten credits has been won and awarded to a user's credit balance. The animation may be automatically downloaded to the device when the user finishes using a network service which triggered the game outcomes and played on the device. The animation may be provided in the form of a video file in a format playable using the device along with instructions executable by the device processor to automatically play the animation. The animation may be played automatically to in response to a user command. For example, a message may be displayed such as “Do you want to see what you have won?” and in response to a user pressing a YES key, the animation is played.

Alternatively an application may be provided to the user device to enable one or more game of chance outcome representation animations to be played to present game outcomes. The application can include animation data and instructions executable by the device processor for manipulating the animation according to the game outcome. In this embodiment raw game outcome data, such as a win code and an award value may be provided to the user device and the application selects and plays the appropriate animation based on this data. For example, the animation may have two rolling dice and where the dice stop, and the number shown on each dice based on the outcome data. The application may be adapted to select the animation based on the game outcome data. For example, where more than one game outcome is generated while a service is being used the application may select an animation adapted to show more than one game outcome simultaneously, such as a set of spinning reels with several win lines. Alternatively an animation or image used to represent an outcome may simply be based on a cumulative award total for all the games played during used of the network service, for example an animation of coins pouring out of a bag.

An embodiment game triggering and play process is illustrated in FIG. 3. A user requests access to a network service 310, for example makes a telephone call. The communication network service provider processes the request to provide access to the network service 315, for example, allocating radio resources for the telephone call and establishing a connection to the called party. This action will typically also trigger a billing event for the network service provider to record a charge for the service use in the user account, for example to bill a connection fee for the telephone call and start a timer for any time based charges. The network service provider also sends user data to the game controller 320 to trigger the play of the game of chance 330. The user data can be sent via the communication network or a data connection between the game controller and network provider module. For play of the game of chance, a random result is generated and a game outcome generated based on the random result and defined game rules.

Game outcome data is prepared and sent back to the network service provider 340. If the game data indicates a win 350, then the appropriate award is made, for example by updating a user's account credit balance 360.

Game outcome data can include a win indicator and may also include award data. The award data may be a specific value, such as a credit value to be awarded to the user. Alternatively award data may be an award indicator which can be used to determine the actual award to be made. For example, the award data may be a weighting value which is then applied to another value, such as a fee paid for the service, used to determine the value of an award for the user. In this example a game outcome may indicate a win with a weighting of twenty, the weighing is applied as a percentage of the credit value of the service fee for the service, so if the user has paid one hundred credits for the service used, then the user will be reimbursed twenty credits for the game of chance win. In this case, if a credit is one cent, then making a telephone call having a fee of one dollar, will result in only eighty cents being deducted form the user's account, due to the reimbursement of twenty cents for the game of chance award. In an alternative embodiment award data may indicate an award category which can be used to look up an award table to determine a prize or award value. Different award tables may be used based on the network service causing the game of chance to be triggered or the value of a fee paid for the network service. It should be appreciated that a variety of different processes may be used to determine awards and all possible variations are considered within the scope of this application.

The network service provider module may be adapted to send a signal to the network service provider billing module indicating that a credit payment is made to add credit to a user account. If a payment is made in this manner, the billing module does not need to be modified to accommodate the credit award system. This may have an advantage of avoiding modification to the billing module itself. Thus, communications regulatory body approval of modifications to the billing module can also be avoided.

A message indicating win information can be prepared 365 and sent to the user device 370. The win information can be displayed to the user 380 once the network service is ended. The user device may also indicate that no win occurred for the game of chance, this may be an automatic action if no win message is received when a service ends.

Win information may be stored in the user device for viewing at the user's convenience. Information regarding games of chance played, win or loss information and award information may also be made available to the user through their network service account, for example via a web page where the user can view their account information and make credit payments or as part of account statements. For example, an account statement or web site showing a service use log may also show a game of chance log.

In the embodiment discussed in detail above the game controller is maintained independently of the network service provider module and connected to the network service provider module via the communication network. For example, the game controller may be maintained by a gaming service provider, and an agreement exists between a network service provider and the gaming service provider for access to the game controller for playing game of chance. This arrangement is advantageous as the network service provider can offer the benefit of the automatic game and chance to win additional credit to the network subscribers without requiring the skill for maintaining gaming equipment or having to handle regulatory requirements involved in commissioning and maintaining the game controller and regulatory monitoring of game play. In a reciprocal arrangement credits from a user's network service account may also be used to play games over the communication network using the user's phone or at a gaming venue via an account sharing or account access arrangement between the gaming venue and network service provider. Alternative embodiments where the game controller and network service module are integrated are also envisaged.

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.

Certain embodiments of the present invention contemplate 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.