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U.S. Patent No. 7,682,251: Multilevel online tournament
Issued March 23, 2010, to Microsoft


Summary:

The ‘251 patent provides for a way to set up online tournaments in video games. The tournament is set up as a bracket (think March Madness-style) where the winners advance to play other winners. The system allows for players to join the tournament at any moment until the first game has started. Once the first round has begun, players are prevented from joining the game until the next tournament is established. Matched players may play their game any time they desire as long as their opponent is online and ready to compete. This system allows players to play their opponents as soon as both players have advanced to the next round. By giving players the freedom to play (and not having set match times), players can come and go as they please and set the game time for convenient moments. The invention here seems like it could be an enjoyable way to play tournaments. After all, who doesn’t love a good playoff (NCAA football committee excluded)?

Abstract:

A multilevel online tournament is provided. The first tournament round has a single bracket and each subsequent tournament round has a winners bracket and a losers bracket corresponding to a bracket in the previous tournament round. The tournament format allows players to match-up against any other player located within the same bracket. The online tournament format also allows participants to start playing match in a round of the tournament prior to the official start of that round. Thus, players are able to more quickly advance through the tournament and spend less time waiting for a suitable opponent. The tournament format also allows for players to request available tournament byes and to automatically progress when they are unable to connect with other players due to quality of service issues.

Illustrative Claim:

1. One or more computer readable storage media storing computer readable instructions that, when executed, perform a method for progressing a plurality of participants through an online tournament when the plurality of participants cannot complete a match in a current tournament round, said method comprising: determining a number of slots N available in a next round winners bracket; assigning N participants to the winners bracket according to a trust rating; and assigning remaining participants to a next round losers bracket.


U.S. Patent No. 7,682,250: Method and apparatus for simulating interactive spinning bar gymnastics on a 3D display
Issued March 23, 2010, to Nintendo


Summary:

The ‘250 patent describes a 3Dhand-held game where the user can use a stylus to control his character and have the character perform gymnastic actions during gameplay. The invention allows a player to instruct his character to grab onto an elongated metal bar. Once the character is attached, the player may use the stylus to have his character perform gymnastic moves on the bar. These types of moves include handstands, spinning around the bar, and a variety of dismounts. A player may tap the screen while his character is spinning on the bar to activate a dismount sequence whereby the character lets go of the bar and flies in the air.

Abstract:

The video or other computer graphics display shows, on a touch screen, a spinnable bar having a control wheel affixed to an end thereof. Strokes of a stylus applied to the surface of the wheel controls the direction and/or rate of spin of the wheel and bar. An animated game character holding on to the spinning bar may spin with the bar and perform acrobatic acts in response to other touch screen or other types of control inputs.

Illustrative Claim:

1. A method for modeling a gymnastic exercise comprising: displaying an animated game character holding on to an elongated object, the animated game character being moveable independently of said elongated object; detecting user manipulation of a control input device; determining, in response to said detected user manipulation, whether said user in manipulating said control input device has supplied a gesture simulating touch imparting a push to said elongated object; using animation to cause said displayed elongated object to appear to spin with an angular momentum so that repeated gestures simulating pushes in the direction of spin increase the apparent rate said virtual object spins; using animation to make the displayed elongated object appear to impart spin to said independently-movable animated game character so that said animated game character appears to spin with the spinning elongated object; and changing the rate of the spin of said elongated object in response at least in part to the detected control input.


U.S. Patent No. 7,686,690: Game machine and method for grouping players into teams participating matchup game
Issued March 30, 2010, to Sony


Summary:

The ‘690 patent describes a method for acquiring bio-information of players during a game to assist in selection of teams during an online game. Once the information is collected, the invention attempts to group players with similar bio information onto the same teams. It also makes the teams as evenly as possible to make the game more enjoyable for all of the players involved.

Abstract:

The present invention is directed to a game apparatus adapted for executing game performed by plural teams, and is adapted to acquire bio-information of players of the game by biosensors (31), (32), . . . (3n) to allow bio-information to be associated with players of the game. In a control unit (10), bio-information caused to be associated with respective players are analyzed to judge, by the analysis result thus obtained, teams to which respective players belong. The judged team classification result is notified to the players to thereby eliminate troublesomeness of operation such as team designation by players, thus permitting the players to sufficiently enjoy amusement of the fighting game.

Illustrative Claim:

1. A game apparatus comprising: bio-information acquisition means for acquiring plural kinds of bio-information of players of game; bio-information analysis means for selecting a first subset of a plurality of different kinds of said plural kinds of bio-information commonly representing a first characteristic among said plural kinds of bio-information to generate a first coordinate representing a first characteristic, and selecting a second subset of a plurality of different kinds of said plural kinds of bio-information commonly representing a second characteristic among said plural kinds of bio-information to generate a second coordinate representing a second characteristic, and arranging said first coordinate and said second coordinate in a two-dimensional space, where a first dimension of said two-dimensional bio-information space corresponds to said first characteristic and a second dimension of said two-dimensional bio-information space corresponds to said second characteristic; and team judgment means for judging teams to which the players belong in accordance with a position in said bio-information space of the bio-information arranged at the bio-information analysis means.


U.S. Patent No. 7,686,693: Use of online messaging to facilitate selection of participants in game play
Issued March 30, 2010, to Microsoft


Summary:

The ‘693 patent provides for a system which allows a host to select players during an online multiplayer game over a network. The host’s contact list has information of each player including their online status (whether they are online, idle, or offline). This allows the host to select available friends to invite to play the game. Once a player is invited to join a game with the host the two players enter into a chat session with each other. The chat session is independent of any game, so a player may enter the chat session without entering the actual game. Players communicate through either text messages or by microphone. Finally, the invention allows players who have entered the host’s game to invite other players who were not initially invited to play as well. This allows friends of other players (but not friends with the initial host) to have a chance of playing.

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 system for enabling a host player to select one or more other players to participate in playing a multiplayer online electronic game played using a plurality of electronic devices linked in communication over a communications network, each of said plurality of electronic devices being operated by a different player and including: (a) a display on which a user interface is presented; (b) a memory in which a plurality of machine instructions are stored; and (c) a processor coupled to the memory for executing said plurality of machine instructions, said processor executing the machine instructions to implement a plurality of functions, including: (i) acquiring a contact list associated with the host player from an online messaging service along with the status of each contact, the contact list being associated with the online messaging service rather than any particular online electronic game; (ii) displaying the contact list along with an indication of each contact's status, wherein the contact's status indicates, for each contact, the contact's status with regard to the communication network, the contact's status with regard to the online messaging service, and whether the contact is utilizing the system enabling the contact to participate in playing the multiplayer online electronic game; (iii) enabling the host player to utilize the online messaging service to initiate a chat session using the online messaging service rather than any particular online electronic game; (iv) enabling the host player to select one or more players to invite to join the chat session including contacts from the contact list as well as players not associated with the online messaging service; (v) enabling any of the players who were invited by the host, to participate in the chat session, the chat session being independent from any particular game; (vi) providing the host player with a game selection menu thereby enabling the host player to selectively initiate launching an instance of a multiplayer online electronic game, the instance of the multiplayer online electronic game being separate from the chat session and the host player selecting the instance of the multiplayer online electronic game from a plurality of games displayed at the game selection menu; and (vii) automatically launching the multiplayer online electronic game on each electronic device being operated by each player participating in the chat session, the multiplayer online electronic game being launched in response to the host player selectively initiating launch of the instance of the multiplayer online electronic game, so that each player participating in the chat session automatically becomes a participant in the instance of the multiplayer online electronic game.


U.S. Patent No. 7,693,306: System and method for capturing images from mobile devices for use with patron tracking system
Issued April 6, 2010, to Konami


Summary:

The ‘306 patent describes a method for tracking a player during an online game. The invention can distinguish between existing and new patrons and tracks their gaming activity while they play. An electronic database is used to store the existing player’s information. Whenever a new player enters the game, a file is electronically created for him and all game updates are stored in the folder whenever a player plays any game.

Abstract:

A system and method of tracking a patron in a gaming environment uses a database that stores known images and known text descriptions of existing patrons. An image of a patron is captured by an image capture device, and a text description of the patron is obtained. The image and the text description are transmitted to the database. A comparator compares the image or the text description to those on the database. The image is stored in a patron folder if the image or the text description is found to match an existing patron. The image is stored in a temporary folder if the image or the text description fails to match one of the existing patrons, and once the patron has been identified, the image is transferred from the temporary folder to the patron folder.

Illustrative Claim:

1. A method of tracking a patron in a gaming environment to distinguish between existing patrons and new patrons to track their gaming activities, said method utilizing at least one database having a patron folder and a temporary folder with a plurality of known images and known text descriptions stored in the patron folder, said method comprising the steps of: photographing the patron to create an image, obtaining a text description of the patron, linking the image and the text description together into an electronic communication, transmitting the electronic communication to the database, comparing at least one of the image and the text description to determine if the at least one of the image and the text description is equivalent to one of the plurality of known images and known text descriptions stored in the database, and storing at least one of the image and the text description in the temporary folder if at least one of the image is different than the known images and the text description is different than the known text descriptions stored in the database to distinguish an existing patron from a new patron and to track the gaming activities of the patron.

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