Title:
GAME MACHINE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A game machine comprises a housing, a user access panel having a controller, a money acceptor and a redemption dispenser that dispenses an award, a rotating field having a surface with a plurality of objects situated thereon, a retriever that is movable along a track that is supported by the housing for enabling movement of the retriever relative to the rotating field, an object return path having an object receiving area, a delivery guide, and an outlet, wherein an award is dispensed from the redemption dispenser upon the retriever retrieving an object from the rotating field and delivering it to the object receiving area.



Inventors:
Guarnieri, Jack (Jackson, NJ, US)
Application Number:
12/900947
Publication Date:
04/14/2011
Filing Date:
10/08/2010
Assignee:
ELAUT USA, INC. (Lakewood, NJ, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
273/448, 463/42
International Classes:
A63F9/24; A63F9/00
View Patent Images:



Other References:
"Claw Machines" published by BMI Gaming on or before June 5, 2009 and retrieved from URL on February 23, 2012, 7 pages.
Primary Examiner:
SKAARUP, JASON M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GRAHAM CURTIN, P.A. (WHIPPANY, NJ, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A game machine comprising: a) a housing and a redemption dispenser that dispenses an award; b) a movable field having a surface with a plurality of objects situated thereon; c) a retriever that is movable along a track that is supported by the housing for enabling movement of the retriever relative to the movable field; and d) an object return path having an object receiving area and an outlet; e) wherein an award that is not the same as the object retrieved by the retriever is dispensed from the redemption dispenser upon the retriever retrieving an object from the movable field and delivering it to the object return path for return of the object to the movable field through the outlet.

2. The game machine of claim 1, further comprising a score display and a timer display.

3. The game machine of claim 2, wherein the score and timer displays are incorporated into a digital video display.

4. The game machine of claim 3, wherein the digital video display is positioned on a back of the housing.

5. The game machine of claim 1, wherein the award is a redemption ticket.

6. The game machine of claim 1, wherein the retriever includes a magnet or is magnetized, and at least one of the plurality of objects is capable of being magnetically retrieved by the retriever.

7. The game machine of claim 6, wherein the at least one object is spherical and formed from ferromagnetic or ferromagnetic material.

8. The game machine of claim 1, wherein the retriever includes a two-dimensional or three-dimensional image of a bird.

9. The game machine of claim 1, wherein the surface is a contoured surface that has a three-dimensional contour that causes the plurality of objects to exhibit erratic movement during a rotation of the field.

10. The game machine of claim 1, wherein the movable field rotates in a unidirectional manner, a bidirectional manner, or in a combination of the two.

11. The game machine of claim 1, wherein the movable field rotates continuously, intermittently, or in a combination of the two.

12. The game machine of claim 1, wherein the object receiving area further comprises a bird nest.

13. The game machine of claim 1, wherein the object return path is substantially hidden from view during play of the game machine.

14. The game machine of claim 1, wherein the outlet is positioned above or adjacent to the field.

15. The game machine of claim 14, wherein the outlet is positioned in between the legs of a figure situated on a platform above the field.

16. The game machine of claim 1, further comprising a processor connected to a network for remote operation or maintenance of the game machine.

17. A method of playing a game comprising: a) retrieving an object from a plurality of objects located on a rotating field using a retriever and delivering the retrieved object to an object return path; b) receiving an award upon the retrieved object being received in the object return path; c) wherein the award is not the same as the retrieved object; d) wherein the retrieved object is returned to the field upon exiting the object return path; and e) repeating steps (a) through (d) for a predetermined period of time.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein the object is magnetically retrieved by the retriever.

19. The method of claim 17, wherein the object is a ball and the award is a ticket.

20. A game machine comprising: a) a housing, a timer and a redemption dispenser that dispenses an award; b) a rotating field having a surface with a plurality of objects situated thereon; c) a magnetic retriever movable along a track that is supported by the housing for movement of the magnetic retriever relative to the rotating field; and d) an object return path having an object receiving area and an outlet positioned above or adjacent the rotating field; e) wherein an award that is not the same as the object retrieved by the magnetic retriever is dispensed from the redemption dispenser upon the magnetic retriever retrieving an object from the rotating field and delivering the object to the object return path for return of the object to the rotating field through the outlet; and f) wherein the magnetic retriever is operable to retrieve objects from the rotating field during a predetermined time period indicated by the timer.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. application Ser. No. 61/250,488, filed Oct. 9, 2010, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to arcade game machines in general, and more specifically to a retrieval and redemption game that is aesthetically pleasing and exciting to play.

BACKGROUND

Arcade claw-type games haven't changed much throughout the years. Traditional claws include mechanical prong-type grabs that are lowered onto a prize, such as a plush toy, for acquisition of the prize and for delivery of the acquired prize to a prize drop or chute for delivery to the player. Sometimes the plush toy is released from the claw before it is successfully delivered to the prize drop, which contributes to the excitement and anxiety for the player. However, the sole focus of the player is on the toy field and not on the surroundings apart from the toy field.

Another type of claw uses a magnet that is lowered onto a prize and will grab the prize that is aligned directly under the magnet. The prize includes a magnetic element that is attracted to the magnetic claw, which claw can be a magnet or an electromagnet, for example. This type of game usually involves a moving prize field, where the prizes are moving and the player must position the claw above the field at a location perceived to be directly above a prize at the time the player attempts to acquire the prize with the claw. If the player is successful, the magnetic claw will attach to and deliver the prize to the player through a prize chute or the like. With this type of claw game, the environment tends to be more dynamic and distracting to the player, since the player must concentrate on the positioning of the claw relative to the prize. However, while the environment is dynamic and distracting, the player does not directly engage the environment during game play.

In both of the above scenarios, the claw is used to acquire a prize on a game field and deliver the prize directly to the player. In addition, the game ends with the success or failure of the player in acquiring the prize. The fact that the game is short-lived is usually balanced by the amount of the prize relative to the amount of play, where a single or multiple one dollar ($1) plays may be acceptable for a prize worth ten dollars ($10) or over one hundred dollars ($100) or the like. In addition, the player does not interact with the environment of the game other than through a connection between the claw and the prize field.

There is a need, therefore, for a claw arcade game that it is exciting to play, dynamic in appearance and execution, and that engages a player beyond that typically experienced with traditional claw arcade games.

SUMMARY

A game machine comprises a housing, a user access panel having a controller, a money acceptor and a redemption dispenser that dispenses an award, a rotating field having a surface with a plurality of objects situated thereon, a retriever that is movable along a track that is supported by the housing for enabling movement of the retriever relative to the rotating field, an object return path having an object receiving area, a delivery guide, and an outlet, wherein an award is dispensed from the redemption dispenser upon the retriever retrieving an object from the rotating field and delivering it to the object receiving area. The award is based on the number of objects retrieved in a given time period, which objects dynamically engage with the field, the delivery guide and the outlet for increased enjoyment and play by the user.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is one embodiment of a game machine of the present invention.

FIG. 2 illustrates a motor driving a field of one aspect of the game.

FIG. 3 illustrates an alternative embodiment of a retriever of the game.

FIG. 4 is one embodiment of certain aspects of the game machine.

FIGS. 5-12 illustrate one embodiment of one method of operating the game machine.

FIG. 13 illustrates one embodiment of a display incorporated into a game machine.

FIG. 14 is an alternate embodiment of a game machine.

FIG. 15 is a schematic control diagram of one embodiment of a system of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

This disclosure describes the best mode or modes of practicing the invention as presently contemplated. This description is not intended to be understood in a limiting sense, but provides an example of the invention presented solely for illustrative purposes by reference to the accompanying drawings to advise one of ordinary skill in the art of the advantages and construction of the invention. In the various views of the drawings, like reference characters designate like or similar parts.

FIG. 1 is one embodiment of a game machine 100 of the type typically enjoyed at amusement parks, arcades, game rooms, bars, night clubs, truck stops, casinos, restaurants and the like. Other non-limiting venues and environments for the game machine 100 are contemplated. One embodiment of the game machine 100 further comprises a housing 110 having a back 111, a front 112 with a window 113, a left side 114 with a window 115, a right side 116 with a window 117, and a ceiling 118 with a light 119. In one embodiment, the housing 110 is predominantly constructed as a plywood cabinet of the type typically seen in arcades, although other materials or combinations of materials are contemplated. The windows 113, 115, and 117 are preferably formed from a transparent thermoplastic such as acrylic or Plexiglas, although other materials are contemplated, and are provided to enhance the enjoyment of the game by providing visual access to all aspects of the game from various viewpoints and vantage points relative to housing 110. It is preferred that the window material is strong enough to resist a significant impact force, especially since the game machine is likely to be enjoyed by all ages and in particular children and adolescents that might inadvertently punch, collide with or throw something at a window. It is also preferred that the window material is scratch resistant if possible.

A user access panel 120 is preferably attached to, or otherwise incorporated in the front 112 of the housing 110 and preferably includes a controller 122 such as a joystick having an actuation button 123, a first display 124 such as a score display, a second display 126 such as a timer display, a money acceptor 128 such as a coin, token and/or bill acceptor, and a redemption dispenser 130 that dispenses an award such as tickets 132 or the like. The actuation button 123 described in the present embodiment is shown integrally attached to the controller, although it will be appreciated that it could be separate from the controller in another location on the panel 120 if desired. While separate first and second displays 124, 126 are illustrated and described, it will be appreciated that a single display or more than two displays may be utilized, and such display(s) may be located on the outside on the panel 120, or inside the housing 110, or may be otherwise characterized in a different form. For example, a single digital display 127 (see FIGS. 13A-14, for example) may be incorporated into the environment of the game, preferably along the back 111 of the housing 110, that could provide score and time information (FIG. 13A) instead of the separate displays 124, 126 on the panel 120, and, in addition, could provide other useful information such as game instructions, etc., (FIG. 13B) as well as engaging and dynamic graphics related to the play of the game that would be attractive to a player and viewable before, during and after play. In addition, while a joystick controller 112 is illustrated, it will be appreciated that other controller devices may be used, such as a controller actuated by a single button or a plurality of buttons, a computer mouse, a roller ball or track ball, or a combination of controller devices as described or hereinafter developed. Other methods of control and actuation are contemplated. Engagement with the user access panel 120 and operation of the game machine 100 will be described later.

The game environment viewable through the windows 113, 115, 117 in the housing 110 as shown in the illustrated embodiment of the game machine 100 is intended to represent a prehistoric scene including dinosaurs and the like. For purposes of illustration, the characters in the game will be shown and described in such a prehistoric setting, although it will be appreciated that any type of setting and imagery can be employed as desired by the user and game developer. For example, while a prehistoric scene is shown for purposes of illustration, other non-prehistoric scenes may be utilized including, but not limited to, an Alaskan wilderness scene, a beach scene, an outer space alien scene, or others.

One aspect of the game environment includes a ground area 200 including a base support 210, a field 220 and a platform 227 that is raised relative to the field 220. The field is preferably a movable, rotating field 220 that is driven by a motor 222 (FIG. 2). While a rotating field 220 is preferred, it will be appreciated that a non-rotating field will be operable although it is not as stimulating for a user of the game as will be described below. Also, while the field is preferably a rotating field 220, the rotation may be continuous, intermittent, unidirectional, bidirectional, or a combination of the same. In addition, the rotation may occur at various times, while the game is being played, and/or during periods of non-play to further illustrate the game to potential players. The field 220 preferably comprises a contoured surface 224 having a plurality of objects 226 located thereon. In one embodiment, the field 220 further comprises a three-dimensional contoured surface 224 that causes the plurality of objects 226 to exhibit erratic movement during rotation of the field 220. The objects 226 are preferably spherical or substantially spherical, and in the non-limiting illustrated prehistoric embodiment of FIG. 1, the objects 226 are intended to represent eggs that move around on the rotating tar pit field 220. In another embodiment, the field 220 further comprises a relatively flat contoured surface 224 where the plurality of objects 226 do not exhibit erratic movement during rotation of the field 220. The objects 226 are preferably spherical or substantially spherical, and in the non-limiting illustrated prehistoric embodiment of FIG. 1, the objects 226 are intended to represent eggs that move around on the rotating tar pit field 220. The objects 226 could be various shapes and sizes as desired. Also contemplated are non-uniform shapes that are inherently non-uniformly weighted to exhibit non-uniform motion on rotating field 220. In one embodiment, the light 119 is a black light and the objects 226 are constructed, coated or other otherwise manufactured to exhibit fluorescence under the black light. Such a fluorescent aesthetic may be applied to some or all of the objects 226. In another embodiment, the light 119 could be a white light, a colored light, or a combination of lights having various effects such as strobe, laser, UV and the like.

As further illustrated in the embodiment of FIG. 1, a platform 227 is preferably positioned adjacent to and raised relative to the field 220 and preferably includes one or more FIGS. 228 positioned thereon. Additional figures may be situated around the base support 210 to further reinforce and enhance the aesthetic theme. In one embodiment, the field 220 may be slightly recessed relative to the base support 210 to prevent the objects 226 from escaping the field 220 onto the base support 210 during rotation of the field 220, and the platform 227 may encroach onto an area above the field 220 as shown in FIG. 1 to provide additional impact barriers for the objects 226. The combination of the rotating, contoured field surface 224, the border of the base support 210 and the encroaching platform 227, cause the objects 226 to exhibit unpredictable and erratic movement that makes the game more challenging as will be described below.

Another aspect of the game includes the use of a retriever 230 that, in the illustrated embodiment, assumes the image of a bird, or in the prehistoric theme a pterodactyl, that is intended to be used to retrieve one of the objects 226 from the field 220. The retriever 230 may have a two-dimensional image 231 as shown in FIG. 1, for example, or it may include a three-dimension image 238 as shown in FIG. 3, or it may include a combination of two-dimensional and three-dimensional images (not shown) as desired. The retriever is guided by the controller 122 along a track 232 (FIG. 4) supported adjacent the ceiling 118 (FIG. 1) of the housing 110 by a spaced-apart pair of guide rails 234, 235 extending from the left side 114 of the housing 110 to the right side 116 of the housing for enabling movement of the retriever 230 along the width of the housing 110, the track 232 enabling movement of the retriever 230 along the depth of the housing 110 between the front 112 and the back 111 of the housing 110.

In a preferred embodiment, the retriever 230 acquires objects 226 through the use of magnetic attraction. Specifically, the retriever 230 is provided with a magnet 236, or the retriever 230 is otherwise magnetized such as with an electromagnet or the like (not shown), such that when the retriever is positioned adjacent an object 226 on the field 220, the object 226 will be retrieved or captured by the retriever 230. In this regard, it is preferred that at least one, and preferably all of the objects 226 have material properties that are somehow responsive to a magnetic field. Thus, one aspect of the material forming an object 226 could be ferromagnetic or ferromagnetic such as iron, nickel, cobalt and various alloys, which are attracted to a magnet. Such material would allow for capture and retrieval of an object 226 by the retriever 230. In a preferred embodiment of the game, all of the objects 226 on the field 220 would be capable of being acquired by the retriever 230. However, if it is desired to create a challenging field of objects 226, some objects 226 may be formed with paramagnetic materials, such as aluminum and the like, that embody little or no attraction to magnets, which would be impossible to capture with a magnet-laden retriever 230. If it is desired to create an even more challenging environment, some objects 226 could be formed with diamagnetic materials that would be repelled by the magnet 236 on the retriever 230, which would cause the repelled objects to impact other objects on the field 220 and make it more challenging to acquire those objects that are formed using ferromagnetic or ferromagnetic materials. All of the objects 226 could have the same appearance, or a different appearance depending on their material properties.

Once the retriever 230 acquires an object 226 from the field 220, it delivers the object 226 to an object return path 240 (FIG. 4) having an object receiving area 244, a delivery guide 246, and an outlet 248. The delivery guide 246 can be formed from any size, shape and configuration of material, such as a tubular structure 241 (FIGS. 5-12) or a wireframe structure 246 (FIG. 4) or a combination of the same. Other structural configurations are contemplated. In FIG. 1, the object return path 240 is substantially hidden through the use of cover props such as flora 243 and a graphical display extending along the back 249 of the game environment. In FIG. 1, the object receiving area 244 also has the appearance of a nest 245, which fits with the theme of a bird retriever 230 that retrieves an egg 226 from the field 220. The return of the retriever 230 from the field 220 to the object receiving area 244 can occur automatically upon acquisition of an object 226 by the magnet 236, or in a more challenging and preferred embodiment it can occur manually with the use of the controller 112. The outlet 248 is preferably positioned above and/or adjacent to the field 220 so that a retrieved object 226 that is delivered to the object return path 240 is eventually returned to the field 220 for re-acquisition by the retriever 230. In the embodiment of FIG. 1, the outlet 248 is positioned between the legs 229 of one of the FIG. 228 to create the appearance of a dinosaur laying an egg, which some players may find to be humorous and may entice longer play and improved enjoyment.

FIGS. 5-12 illustrate one method of playing one embodiment of the game 100. While certain aspects and features will be described, it will be understood that the non-limiting method of operation is described for purposes of illustration only, and other manners of operation are contemplated. For purposes of illustrating the method of operation in FIGS. 5-12, the object return path 240 is not hidden by flora 243 or other objects as is the case in FIG. 1.

In FIG. 5, a player (not shown) activates the game by inserting some form of payment, such as coins, tokens, bills, credit cards, point cards or the like into the payment acceptor 128. This causes the score display 124 to adjust to zero and the time display 126 to adjust to a fixed time period depending on the manufacturer and facility criteria. For purposes of illustration, the time display 126 will show “60” representing sixty seconds of play, although other time values may be used. The time may be adjusted as desired, and/or may be dependent on the amount of payment inserted into the payment acceptor 128. In addition, the field 220 is rotating while the objects (eggs) 226 exhibit erratic movement due to the contoured surface 224. Using the controller 122, the player (not shown) moves the retriever 230 into position above the field 220 as shown in FIG. 6, and then the player drops the retriever 230 toward the field 220 as shown in FIG. 7 using a button 123 (FIGS. 1, 5) on the controller 122 or a separate button (not shown) on the user access panel 120 until the magnet 236 on the retriever 230 engages an object 226 on the field 220. Activation of the button 123 causes the field 220 to stop moving. Thereafter, as shown in FIG. 8, the player (not shown) releases the button 123 and causes the retriever to rise toward the ceiling 118, and then the player advances the retriever 230 toward the object return path 240 and more specifically the object receiving area 244 disguised as a nest 244 as shown in FIG. 9. Thereafter, the player lowers the retriever 230 until the retriever 230 impacts the object receiving area 244 (nest 245), which causes the retrieved object (egg) 226 to dislodge from the magnet 236 of the retriever 230 as shown in FIG. 10 and descend into the delivery guide 246. The dropped object 226 travels through the delivery guide 246, as shown in FIG. 11 with arrows extending therethrough, until the object 226 reappears and exits through the outlet 248, in this case through the legs 229 of one of the FIGS. 228 perched on the platform 227, and then returns to the field 220 as shown in FIG. 12. Alternatively, instead of the player manually guiding the retriever 230 toward the object receiving area 244, the retriever 230 may, upon release of the button 123 and acquisition of an object 226, automatically rise from the field 220, return to a position above the object receiving area 244 (FIG. 9), and release the object 226 into the delivery guide 246 by de-magnetizing the connection between magnet 236 on the retriever 230 and the object 226.

As shown in FIG. 11, the act of delivering an object 226 from the field 220 to the object receiving area 244 results in an increase in the score 124 and the dispensing of a ticket 132 from the dispenser 130. Of course, other redemption schemes may be utilized where, for example, a player gets a point and a ticket if the player simply acquires an object 226 with the retriever, and then gets another point and ticket if the object is delivered to the nest. The ultimate goal is to retrieve and deliver as many objects 226 from the field 220 to the nest 245, or object receiving area 244, within a certain time period displayed on the time display 126, and get the highest score and the greatest number of tickets or the like. During the game, the player is presented with aesthetically exiting images of a certain theme, with sound effects, light effects, moving objects that act erratically on the contoured field, and the added humor of seeing a dinosaur lay an egg.

FIG. 14 illustrates an alternative embodiment of a game machine 300 having a control panel 320 with a controller 322, a display 327 on the back wall 349, an object receiving area 344 or nest 345, and a delivery guide 346 including an outlet 348 positioned above or adjacent the field 324 that delivers an object 326 back onto the field 324. All other operations relating to acquisition of an object 326 by the retriever 330 are the same as described above. In the embodiment of FIG. 14, the delivery guide 346 is shorter as compared with the embodiment of FIG. 1, which results in a faster return of the object 326 to the field 324. In addition, as discussed previously, the display 327 could provide useful information such as player time remaining, the player's score, pre-play instructions and other engaging graphics before, during and after play.

FIG. 15 illustrates one embodiment of a control schematic 400 incorporated into the housing 110 below the game area wherein a CPU 410 is provided with software to control the various aspects of the game including, but not limited to, the controller 122, the score display 124, the timer display 126, the money acceptor 128, the dispenser 130, the movement of the field 200, and the retriever 230. The CPU 410 may also be connected to a LAN or WAN 420 in the event it is desired to control the CPU and the operation and/or maintenance of the game through a network onsite or remotely. In addition to, or instead of a LAN/WAN connection 420, the CPU may be connected to a cell phone device (not shown) that communicates with a remote server if a network connection is unavailable such as, for example, if the game machine is located in a traveling facility or a remote area. While FIG. 15 illustrates a control scheme 400 incorporated into housing 110 of game machine 100, it will be appreciated that control scheme 400 is also applicable to the embodiment of game machine 300 of FIG. 14, for example.

It should be appreciated that in the game machine of the present embodiment, the award delivered to the player is not the actual object that is retrieved by the retriever during play, but is instead in the form of a redemption ticket or the like. Thus, the player is able to demonstrate the skills involved in operating an acquisition and retrieval-type game and also benefit by being rewarded. At the same time, the facility that operates the game is able to enjoy revenue from the game with lower maintenance on the game from having to replenish prizes and the like that would normally occur with typical acquisition and redemption games like crane-based arcade games. Thus, the facility owner is able to centralize the award management and distribution while enjoying revenue that is typical from crane-type machines.

It should be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art that the control system described herein can be implemented in hardware, software, firmware, or any combination thereof. Moreover, the software is preferably implemented as an application program tangibly embodied on a program storage unit or computer readable medium. The application program may be uploaded to, and executed by, a machine comprising any suitable architecture. Preferably, the machine is implemented on a computer platform having hardware such as one or more central processing units (“CPUs”), a memory, and input/output interfaces. The computer platform may also include an operating system and microinstruction code. The various processes and functions described herein may be either part of the microinstruction code or part of the application program, or any combination thereof, which may be executed by a CPU, either in the game unit or remote from the game unit, whether or not such computer or processor is explicitly shown. In addition, various other peripheral units may be connected to the computer platform such as additional data storage units and communications devices.

While the present invention has been described at some length and with some particularity with respect to the several described embodiments, it is not intended that it should be limited to any such particulars or embodiments or any particular embodiment, but it is to be construed with references to the appended claims so as to provide the broadest possible interpretation of such claims in view of the prior art and, therefore, to effectively encompass the intended scope of the invention. Furthermore, the foregoing describes the invention in terms of embodiments foreseen by the inventor for which an enabling description was available, notwithstanding that insubstantial modifications of the invention, not presently foreseen, may nonetheless represent equivalents thereto.





 
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