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U.S. Patent No. 6,905,414: Banning verbal communication to and from a selected party in a game playing system
Issued June 14, 2005, to Microsoft


Summary:

The ‘414 patent should appeal to any online gamer. The invention allows voice communication control by users. This means that players may selectively block voice communications with another player during current or future games. A player can block the communication by the other player for the short term (by muting him during the current game) or permanently block all communications from him. Anyone who has played online for any length of time knows how out-of-control profanity can be online. This invention should give the player the ability to control what he can hear.

Abstract:

Voice communication between players using one or more multiplayer game console is selectively controlled. A player may selectively block voice communications with another player during a current and any future games. In addition, an authorized party (e.g., a parent) can selectively preclude voice communication by a minor child by setting an option that is uploaded to an online game service service; the minor child is then precluded from voice communication on any voice console via the online game service. Also, a player may be temporarily or permanently banned from voice communication during games played through an online game service in response to complaints made by other players concerning the player's behavior in voice communication while playing games, e.g., excessive use of profanity. When a player signs on to the online game service, data are downloaded to the game console that indicate any applicable restraints on voice communication.

Illustrative Claim:

1. For use with an electronic game played on at least one multiplayer game console having a capability to provide verbal communication between players of games being played on said at least one multiplayer game console, a method for preventing verbal communication by a specific player, comprising the steps of: (a) maintaining data for each player participating in a game; (b) including an indicator in the data, said indicator referencing the specific player who is precluded from verbally communicating during at least one of: (i) a current game session played with another player who has chosen not to verbally communicate with the specific player; (ii) all games played with another player who has chosen not to verbally communicate with the specific player; (iii) all games played by the specific player over a network and using a specific online game service; and (iv) all games played by the specific player using any multiplayer game console; and (c) responding to the indicator in the data by automatically preventing verbal communication with the specific player in accord with said at least one of subparagraphs (i)-(iv) of step (b).

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