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U.S. Patent No. 7,240,093: Use of online messaging to facilitate selection of participants in game play
Issued July 3, 2007, to Microsoft


Summary:

The ‘093 describes a system for selecting participants in multiplayer online games. The invention provides an efficient way for players to host and join new multiplayer games. Players can look at a list of friends and see who is online. From there they can send invitations either through a voice or text message to the friend inviting them to play. Players who receive an invitation can either accept or decline. If the player accepts they will immediately be placed either into the game the host is playing or into a lobby with the host while waiting on other friends to join. All players can communicate to each other if they have a separate headset.

Abstract:

A method and system facilitating selection of participants in multiplayer online electronic games. The method provides an efficient procedure for players to host and join new instances of multiplayer online electronic games, as well as providing a scheme that enables players to join multiplayer online electronic games that are already in progress. The method is implemented through a gaming utility that runs on each player's electronic device (e.g. PC) and interacts behind the scenes with an online messaging service. Player hosts are enabled to select players from a list of contacts provided by the online messaging service who they want to invite to join a chat session. A selected multiplayer online electronic game is selectively launched on all of the player's computers through a single command issued by the host. Additionally, the gaming utility provides players with a list of existing chat sessions being hosted by other players so as to enable the players to join multiplayer online electronic games that are already in progress. The system includes a plurality of electronic devices linked in communication across a communications network, such as a LAN or the Internet. Each electronic device is operatively coupled to a headset having a pair of headphones and a microphone. The headset is worn by a player, enabling the players to verbally communicate with others in a verbal chat session.

Illustrative Claim:

1. A method for enabling a host player to select one or more other participants to join in playing a multi player online electronic game, comprising the steps of: (a) enabling the host player to create a list of contacts comprising one or more other persons who may be interested in participating in playing the multiplayer online electronic game; (b) enabling the host player to select one or more of the other persons from among the list of contacts to participate in playing the multi player online electronic game; (c) automatically sending an electronic invitation to each of the one or more other persons selected by the host player, to join in playing the multiplayer online electronic game, wherein the electronic invitation comprises a verbal message; (d) enabling each of the one or more other persons who receive the electronic invitation that was automatically sent, to selectively join the multi player online electronic game as a participant; and (e)
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