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U.S. Patent No. 7,713,116: Inventory management of virtual items in computer games
Issued May 11, 2010, to Microsoft


Summary:

The ‘116 patent provides an inventory management system to manage the display of inventory items during a computer game. In many games, a player’s inventory is vital to his success or failure in a game. The method described here allows a player to have a limited number of items he has collected to be displayed and be easily accessible. The method also allows the player to categorize his inventory as he wants. The player also has the ability to use pre-set inventory categorizations (by the developer) if he would rather use those.

Abstract:

Within a game, a filter is applied to a game inventory based on an attribute of each one of a plurality of virtual items. The filter can be player defined, game developer defined, system programmer defined, or a combination thereof. In certain versions, the virtual items that satisfy the query provided by the filter are displayed to the player. The player can thereupon access any one of the virtual items that are represented by the icons that satisfy the filtering query. In one version, the attributes of the virtual items can be changed using the filtering game inventory system.

Illustrative Claim:

1. A method comprising: operating, on a computing device comprising an electronic display, a computer game inventory management system to manage display of a game inventory of a plurality of virtual objects acquired during computer game play on the computing device as a function of computer-executable instructions that configure a processor to perform operations comprising: indicating to a game player, on the electronic display during computer game play, the plurality of computer generated virtual objects in a graphical scene describer of a game display, the graphical scene describer used to illustrate a computer generated representation of a player character that is interacting with one or more characters within a virtual world in the computer game play, the player character controlled by the game player, wherein the plurality of virtual objects are configured in the computer game play: to be obtained as possessions by the computer generated representation of the player character; and to comprise one or more attributes; collecting, in the graphical scene describer of the game display, the plurality of virtual objects using the computer generated representation of the player character; indicating, on the game display, at least a portion of the collected plurality of virtual objects as being possessed with the computer generated representation of the player character; displaying, on the game display, an inventory management describer in addition to the graphical scene describer of the game display, the inventory management describer comprising: one or more filter icons that represent one or more filters; and an inventory display that is used to display the filtered plurality of virtual objects; receiving, in the computer game play, an input via an input device from the game player, the input used to activate a filter of the one or more filters, the activation comprising selecting, in the inventory management describer, a filter icon that represents the filter; filtering, upon receiving the input from the game play to activate the filter, the collected plurality of virtual objects based on their respective attributes that are assigned during the computer game play, the filtering comprising filtering the collected plurality of virtual objects that match the filter that is activated by the game player; and displaying, upon activation of the filter, a filtered portion of the collected plurality of virtual objects in the inventory display, wherein each of the filtered portion of the plurality of virtual objects in the inventory display includes at least an attribute that matches the filter, and wherein display of the filtered portion of the plurality of virtual objects based on the filter activated by the game player facilitates the game player to determine which of the plurality of virtual objects to be disposed of or used in the computer game play as the computer generated representation of the player character interacts with the one or more characters in the virtual world in the graphical scene describer of the game display.

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