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U.S. Patent No. 7,717,782: Helpfulness in a virtual environment
Issued May 18, 2010, to Leviathan Entertainment, LLC


Summary:

The ‘782 patent describes a video game environment where players interact with one another and progress through the game by receiving help from other players. Players can post a request for help which can be accepted by other players. A player cannot complete the game without receiving help from other players. By requiring the players to cooperate, the makers are hoping to create a strong player community. This reminds me of a Foxtrot comic strip from a few years back mocking Grand Theft Auto: Vice City with the less-violent Nice City:


 Abstract:

A virtual game environment in which characters are allowed to give help to one another and in which the game tracks the amount of helpfulness of each character is provided. Characters may be rewarded or paid for giving help to each other. In some embodiments, help may be given in the form of advice.

Illustrative Claim:

1. A method performed by a computer, the method comprising: communicating, by the computer, with a plurality of game devices to provide a virtual video game environment, wherein each game device allows at least one respective player to access the computer, wherein each of the players controls at least one player character; wherein the plurality of player characters interact with one another and wherein the virtual video game environment includes a plurality of game parameters that are completed by the player characters as the player characters progress through the game; identifying, by the computer, game parameters which can be completed by receiving help from another player character; permitting, by the computer, a first player character of the plurality of player characters to post a request for help for the other players to view; permitting, by the computer, a second player character of the plurality of player characters to accept the request for help; permitting, by the computer, the second player character to provide help to the first player character; determining, by the computer, whether the first player character successfully completes a first game parameter; providing, by the computer, a benefit to the second player character based on whether the first player character successfully completes a first game parameter; and receiving, by the computer, from the first player character a rating of the help given by the second player ch

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