US20070060330A1 - Associative community bonus round - Google Patents

Associative community bonus round Download PDF

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Publication number
US20070060330A1
US20070060330A1 US11502148 US50214806A US2007060330A1 US 20070060330 A1 US20070060330 A1 US 20070060330A1 US 11502148 US11502148 US 11502148 US 50214806 A US50214806 A US 50214806A US 2007060330 A1 US2007060330 A1 US 2007060330A1
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Prior art keywords
game
bonus
machine
round
community
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US11502148
Inventor
Braun Martin
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
Spectre Gaming Inc
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Spectre Gaming Inc
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/326Game play aspects of gaming systems
    • G07F17/3272Games involving multiple players
    • G07F17/3276Games involving multiple players wherein the players compete, e.g. tournament

Abstract

A software product for gaming can comprise software operational when executed by a processor to direct the processor to activate an associative community bonus round on a first game machine, select a second game machine to join the first game machine in an associative community bonus round game, transmit an initiation message to the selected second game machine, and display the associative community bonus round game on the first game machine. The software product may be stored in a storage medium.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • [0001]
    This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 11/202,483 titled “Community Bonus Round Gaming” filed Aug. 11, 2005, and claims the priority of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/707,048 titled “Community Bonus Round Gaming,” filed Aug. 9, 2005, which are both hereby incorporated by reference.
  • BACKGROUND
  • [0002]
    1. Field of the Invention
  • [0003]
    The present invention relates generally to gaming, and more particularly, to community bonus round gaming.
  • [0004]
    2. Description of the Prior Art
  • [0005]
    With the continued expansion of casino gambling, casino companies must compete more than ever for gambling dollars. To attract customers, casino companies are avoiding the traditional short-term, stop-gap solutions (e.g. increasing the buffet offering, giving rooms away, advertising double and triple points) and focusing on improving the guest's overall casino experience.
  • [0006]
    One technique to improve the guest's casino experience is to implement a bonus game in slot machines. A bonus game may be triggered during normal game play on a slot machine and offers players a new game. For example, a video poker slot machine offered International Game Technology (IGT) triggers a bonus game when certain conditions are met. Once bonus game play is complete, the IGT video poker slot machine resumes normal game play.
  • [0007]
    Another example of improving the casino experience is a slot machine with progressive payouts. As each individual slot machine plays a game, the progressive payout increases. The slot machine displays the progressive payout on a large screen to encourage other players to participate. The server collects information regarding the income received from the different slot machines and creates a jackpot. When the specific slot machine “hits the jackpot” such as triples sevens, the specific slot machine wins the progressive payout. An example of the slot machine with progressive payouts is the “Wheel of Fortune” slot machine.
  • [0008]
    There are approximately 754,000 slot machines currently installed in North America. This represents a 400% increase from the number of machines installed in 1991. Although many of these slot machines appear to have different games, operate as slot machines with progressive payouts, or offer a bonus game, the vast majority of slot machines operate extremely similarly. For example, the “Terminator” slot machine plays the same game as the “I Love Lucy” slot machine. Aside from slight differences in graphics and sound, game play has not significantly changed.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0009]
    A software product for gaming can comprise software operational when executed by a processor to direct the processor to activate an associative community bonus round on a first game machine, select a second game machine to join the first game machine in an associative community bonus round game, transmit an initiation message to the selected second game machine, and display the associative community bonus round game on the first game machine. The software product may be stored in a storage medium. A bonus display of the first game machine can display the associative community bonus round and a prize to the first user.
  • [0010]
    A normal play game result on the first game machine can activate the associative community bonus round. Selection of the second game machine may be based on a player association between a first user of the first game machine and a second user of the second game machine within a player loyalty system. The initiation message can initiate display of the associative community bonus round game on the selected second game machine.
  • [0011]
    The software product can also comprise software operational when executed by the processor to determine an associative bonus round game result and determine a prize to a first user of the first game machine based on the associative bonus round game result. A player loyalty system can store prize information associated with the prize. Further, the software product can also comprise software operational when executed by the processor to process game logic of the associative bonus round game. The first game machine can comprise a slot machine or an amusement device. In addition, the software product can comprise software operational when executed by the processor to command the first game machine to award one or more points redeemable by a first user.
  • [0012]
    A method of gaming can comprise activating an associative community bonus round on a first game machine, selecting a second game machine to join the first game machine in an associative community bonus round game, transmitting an initiation message to the selected second game machine, and displaying the associative community bonus round game on the first game machine.
  • [0013]
    A gaming system can comprise a first game machine and a second game machine. The first game machine activates an associative community bonus round, selects the second game machine to join within an associative bonus round game, and displays an associative community bonus round game. The second game machine display the associative community bonus round game.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0014]
    FIG. 1 is an illustration of a system for gaming in one embodiment of the invention.
  • [0015]
    FIG. 2 is an illustration of a game machine in one embodiment of the invention.
  • [0016]
    FIG. 3 is a flow chart depicting the initiation and play of a community bonus round in one embodiment of the invention.
  • [0017]
    FIG. 4 is a flow chart depicting the initiation and play of a community bonus round in another embodiment of the invention.
  • [0018]
    FIG. 5 is a block diagram of the game machine in one embodiment of the invention.
  • [0019]
    FIG. 6 is a block diagram of a game machine module in one embodiment of the invention.
  • [0020]
    FIG. 7 is a block diagram of a bonus server module in one embodiment of the invention.
  • [0021]
    FIG. 8 is an illustration of images depicting an associative community bonus round game in one embodiment of the invention.
  • [0022]
    FIG. 9 is a flow chart depicting the initiation and play of an associative community bonus round in one embodiment of the invention.
  • [0023]
    FIG. 10 is a flow chart depicting the initiation and play of an associative community bonus round in another embodiment of the invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • [0024]
    The embodiments discussed herein are illustrative of one example of the present invention. As these embodiments of the present invention are described with reference to illustrations, various modifications or adaptations of the methods and/or specific structures described may become apparent to those skilled in the art. All such modifications, adaptations, or variations that rely upon the teachings of the present invention, and through which these teachings have advanced the art, are considered to be within the scope of the present invention. Hence, these descriptions and drawings should not be considered in a limiting sense, as it is understood that the present invention is in no way limited to only the embodiments illustrated.
  • [0025]
    Community bonus round game play across multiple game machines allows multiple players to participate in the same game. A game machine is a machine that allows a player to input data and/or money into the game machine to play a game for the opportunity to win points, currency, awards, or prizes. One example of the game machine is a slot machine.
  • [0026]
    In one embodiment, the game machine allows the player to play games much like a traditional slot machine. However, a community bonus round may be triggered to engage the game machine in a community bonus round. Simultaneously, or soon thereafter, one or more other game machines may be invited to join the community bonus round thereby allowing other players to participate within the same community bonus round. In one example, players cooperate within the community bonus round to maximize scores for all participants. Alternatively, the community bonus round may allow multiple players to compete with each other for points, currency, awards, or prizes. In another example, players may receive a bonus by merely playing within the community bonus round.
  • [0027]
    FIG. 1 is an illustration of a system for gaming 100 in one embodiment of the invention. The system for gaming 100 comprises the bonus server 110, the game machines 120, 130, and 140, and the communications network 150. The communications network 150 is coupled to the bonus server 110 and the game machines 120, 130, and 140.
  • [0028]
    The communications network 150 may comprise a single device or multiple devices. In one embodiment, the communications network 150 is a router that routes data to a limited number of devices. In another embodiment, the communications network 150 comprises multiple routers, bridges, and hubs that couple a larger number of devices. A communications network 150 may be a local area network (LAN), a wide area network (WAN), a globally accessible network, such as the Internet, or any other network that allows devices to communicate and transmit data to each other.
  • [0029]
    Although the communications network 150 illustrated within FIG. 1 appears to be a “star” topology (i.e. each device communicates to a central hub), the communications network 150 may be any topology. In one example, the communications network 150 comprises a peer-to-peer network wherein the devices connect directly to each other in a “ring” topology.
  • [0030]
    The bonus server 110 is any device or system configured to generate and transmit an initiation message to the game machines 120, 130, and 140, to initiate the community bonus round, receive game information from the game machines 120, 130, and 140, and determine a result for the community bonus round.
  • [0031]
    The initiation message is any signal, message, or instruction that directs the game machines 120, 130, or 140 to activate the community bonus round. The initiation message may further comprise a message to the players of the game machines 120, 130, and 140, notifying the players of the impending community bonus round and requesting further input.
  • [0032]
    The community bonus round is any extra, special, premium, or bonus mode that follows a normal gaming mode and may be played by two or more game machines 120, 130, and/or 140. In one embodiment, the community bonus round is triggered upon the occurrence of some preset condition on one of the game machines 120, 130, or 140.
  • [0033]
    In some embodiments, the community bonus round is collaborative, competitive, or associative. In one example, when the community bonus round is collaborative, the players of the first game machine 120 and the other participating game machines 130 and 140 will play together to achieve a bonus goal during the round. For example, the goal of the community bonus round is to score more points than some preset limit. If, at the end of the community bonus round play, the sum of all of the players' points total more than the preset limit, the bonus server 110 awards points, currency, awards, or prizes to the players of the participating game machines 120, 130, and 140. The end of the community bonus round may be triggered by time expiring, a maximum number of spins engaged, the sum of the players' scores reaching a preset limit, or the success of achieving the goal.
  • [0034]
    In another example, the community bonus round is competitive. In this example, the players of the first game machine 120 and the other participating game machines 130 and 140 play against each other for points, currency, awards, or prizes. The bonus server 110 may monitor and calculate the individual scores for the different participating game machines 120, 130, and 140. When the community bonus round ends, the bonus server 110 determines the winner of the community bonus round. In one example, the winner of the community bonus round is the first player to achieve some preset goal. In another example, the winner is the player who scored the most points within a given time. The community bonus round may end when time expires, a maximum number of spins are engaged, or the preset goal is achieved.
  • [0035]
    In another example, the community bonus round is associative. In this example, the players of the first game machine 120 and the other participating game machines 130 and 140 join the community bonus round and are awarded points, currency, awards, or prizes for merely participating. For example, the community bonus round may comprise the first game machine 120 displaying a golfer hitting a golf ball. Subsequently, the golf ball may be depicted as bouncing by the participating game machines 130. The golf ball may also be depicted landing close or into a hole on another participating game machine 140. The bonus server 110 may then calculate the scores and results of the community bonus round. For example, the bonus server 110 may award a higher number of points to the game machines 120 and 140 that depict the golfer's swing or the golf hole. The bonus server 110 may award a different number of points to every participating game machine 130 that depicted the golf ball bouncing or rolling. The community bonus round ends when some condition is met. In this example, the community bonus round ends when the golf ball is depicted as coming to a halt. In some embodiments, the associative community bonus round is an associative community bonus round.
  • [0036]
    The game information is any information or data that indicates metrics or results from a game. Some examples of game information are a state of play of the game machine 120, 130, and/or 140, player information, status of the community bonus round, game machine data, a request to join the community bonus round, a refusal to join the community bonus round, and/or an acceptance to join the community bonus round.
  • [0037]
    The state of play of the game machine 120, 130, and/or 140 comprises the current activity of the game machine 120, 130, and/or 140. States of play may include, but are not limited to, waiting for a player to initiate game play, normal game play, activating the community bonus round, playing the community bonus round, or transitioning from normal game play to the community bonus round.
  • [0038]
    The game information may also comprise the request to join the community bonus round, the refusal to join the community bonus round, and/or the acceptance to join the community bonus round. In one example, the player receives a request to join the community bonus round on the game machine 120. The player subsequently inputs the acceptance or refusal to join the community bonus round. The game machine 120 transmits the acceptance or refusal to the bonus server 110. In one example, the bonus server 110 or other game machines 130 or 140 receive the acceptance and then adds the game machine 120 to an existing community bonus round. In another example, the game machine 120 performs at least some of the logic to activate the community bonus round. In this example, the game machine 120 initiates the community bonus round. The game machine 120 then transmits the request to join the community bonus round to the bonus server 110, which, in turn, transmits the request to the other game machine 130 or 140 to join the community bonus round.
  • [0039]
    In one embodiment, the bonus server 110 controls at least some of the game play on the game machines 120, 130, and/or 140. For example, the player engages the game machine 120 to play a game, while the bonus server 110 performs the game logic that controls the parameters and game execution.
  • [0040]
    The game machines 120, 130, and 140 are devices or systems that are configured to activate the community bonus round and transmit game information in the community bonus round.
  • [0041]
    Although the bonus server 110 is illustrated in FIG. 1 as a separate device from the game machines 120, 130, or 140, some or all of the functions of the bonus server 110 may be contained within a software module of one of the game machines 120, 130, or 140.
  • [0042]
    Optionally, an administrative server and a marketing server (not shown in FIG. 1) may be devices or systems on the communications network 150. An administrative server maintains information relating to game play and community bonus round play as well as metrics from the bonus server 110 and the game machines 120, 130, and 140. In one example, the administrative server receives and stores scores, player information, wins, losses, currency received, and the currency paid out by each game machine 120, 130, and 140. The administrative server may perform calculations to determine the relative success of each game machine 120, 130, and 140. The administrative server may also perform calculations to determine the relative success of individual games on the game machines 120, 130, and 140, as well as the outcome of community bonus rounds. These functions may also be performed by the bonus server 110. A marketing server may store advertisements or marketing information. In one example, the marketing server sends advertisements and/or marketing information to the game machine 120,130, and 140 to be displayed.
  • [0043]
    FIG. 2 is an illustration of a game machine 200 in one embodiment of the invention. The game machine 200 comprises a bonus display 210, a primary display 220, a programmable button panel 230, a ticket printer 240, a bill/ticket acceptor 250, a player loyalty system 260, a coin tray 270, and a candle 280.
  • [0044]
    The bonus display 210 and the primary display 220 are any devices configured to visually interact with the player of the game machine 200. For example, the bonus display 210 and/or the primary display may be a television screen, a monitor, a touch-screen, a tablet display, a liquid crystal display (LCD), a plasma device, a cathode-ray tube (CRT) screen, a flat panel device, a terminal display, or a rear projection device. In other embodiments, the bonus display 210 and the primary display 220 are the same display. The bonus display 210 may be configured to show the game play of the game machine 200. In one example, the bonus display 210 displays the same game play as the primary display 220 thereby allowing spectators to view the game play.
  • [0045]
    The bonus display 210 may be configured to display information associated with a community bonus round, advertisements, games, or player information. In one example, the bonus display 210 displays information associated with the community bonus round such as how to play the community bonus round, when the community bonus round will begin, an offer to join the community bonus round, community bonus round play or scores. The primary display 220 may also be configured to display information associated with the community bonus round.
  • [0046]
    In another example, the bonus display 210 is configured to display advertisements. Advertisements may contain information selling the functions of the game machine 200, games offered by the game machine 200, services offered by the owner or leaser of the game machine, or any other advertisements. The bonus display 210 may also be configured to display available games. In another embodiment, the bonus display 210 displays scores or gaming results of the player of the game machine 200. The primary display 220 may also be configured to display advertisements, available games, scores, and/or gaming results.
  • [0047]
    The programmable button panel 230 is configured to accept input from the player of the game machine 200. In one example, each individual buttons on the programmable button panel 230 may be programmed to perform certain functions. Although ten buttons are depicted, the programmable button panel 230 may comprise any number of buttons, joysticks, or switches. The programmable button panel 230 may also comprise a touch screen or other device capable of accepting player input.
  • [0048]
    The ticket printer 240 is any printer capable of printing receipts, tickets, or other documents for the player or game machine 200 technician. In some embodiments, the ticket printer 240 may print advertisements or coupons that are redeemable by the player.
  • [0049]
    The bill/ticket acceptor 250 is any device capable of receiving and reading currency, tokens, or tickets. The bill/ticket acceptor 250 may comprise a card reader configured to receive and read credit cards, debit cards, or stored value cards.
  • [0050]
    The player loyalty system 260 is any device capable of receiving player information from the player of the game machine 200. In one embodiment, the player loyalty system 260 comprises a card reader that may receive and read player information from a player loyalty card. In some embodiments, the player loyalty system 260 comprises a keypad or touch screen with which the player may enter a password, input player information, and/or request services.
  • [0051]
    Player information may comprise player identification, game preferences, time spent playing each game, casino preference, drink preference, associated friends, family members, clubs, hobbies, money spent, and winnings. The player information may be stored on a player loyalty card, bonus server 110 (FIG. 1), and/or game machine 200. The player loyalty card is any card that may be carried by a player that contains at least some player information.
  • [0052]
    The status of the community bonus round may indicate the game machine 200's activation of the community bonus round, the preparation to begin the community bonus round, or the community bonus round game play. Game machine data comprises resident games, software versions, firmware versions, audit history, diagnostic history, and the amount of currency available in the game machine 200.
  • [0053]
    The coin tray 270 is a tray configured to hold coins or tokens that are issued from the game machine 200. The candle 280 is a reflector and/or light. In some embodiments, the candle 280 indicates that the game machine 200 requires service or is in a tilt condition.
  • [0054]
    The game machines 200 may generate or receive a command to award points that are redeemable by the user for prizes. The points may comprise one or more tickets printed by the ticket printer 240. In alternative embodiments, the game machines 200 may award points in the form of vouchers, coupons, or tokens via the coin tray 270 that are redeemable by the user for prizes. The game machines 200 may also award electronic points within a player loyalty system that are redeemable by the user for prizes. The user may redeem the points by trading a specified quantity of the points for a prize selected by the user. Alternatively, selected points may be redeemed only for a specific prize such as a grand prize. In these embodiments, the game machine 200 may be an amusement device.
  • [0055]
    FIG. 3 is a flow chart depicting the initiation and play of a community bonus round in one embodiment of the invention. FIG. 3 begins with step 300. In step 310, the first game machine 120 (FIG. 1) transmits game information to the bonus server 110. In one example, a player inputs currency into the first game machine 120. The first game machine 120 transmits a message to the bonus server 110 indicating that currency has been received and game play has been initiated.
  • [0056]
    In step 320, the bonus server 110 determines a community bonus round activation on the first game machine 120. In some embodiments, the bonus server 110 monitors the first game machine 120 or the game logic to determine if the conditions are met. For example, the bonus server 110 may determine which conditions are necessary to trigger the community bonus round such as hitting a jackpot. Accordingly, if the game logic determines that this condition is to occur, then the bonus server 110 triggers the community bonus round.
  • [0057]
    In step 330, the bonus server 110 generates an initiation message to the first game machine 120 and one or more other game machines 130 and/or 140 to initiate the community bonus round. In some embodiments, the bonus server 110 generates messages to invite the players on the game machines 120, 130, and 140 to participate in the community bonus round. The bonus server 110 then generates a command to prepare the game machines 120, 130, and/or 140 that accepted joining the community bonus round. In one example, the bonus server 110 generates a command to the game machines 120, 130 and/or 140 participating within the community bonus round to display the name and location of each player. In another example, the bonus server 110 generates a command to the participating game machines 120, 130 and/or 140 to display rules of the community bonus round or a count-down of when the community bonus round is to begin. In a further example, the bonus server 110 downloads software or data to prepare the game machines 120, 130, and/or 140 to play the community bonus round.
  • [0058]
    In step 340, the bonus server 110 activates the community bonus round on the first game machine 120. In one example, the bonus server 110 generates a command to activate the community bonus round to the first game machine 120. The first game machine 120 receives the command, generates the necessary graphics, and prepares to receive input from the player. In some embodiments, the bonus server 110 performs the necessary community bonus round logic and processes player inputs received from the first game machine 120 and other game machines 130 and/or 140.
  • [0059]
    In step 350, the bonus server 110 determines results for the community bonus round. In one example, the bonus server 110 collects scores from the first game machine 120 and the other participating game machines 130 and/or 140. The final scores may be calculated by the bonus server 110 as the community bonus round is played or the final scores may be calculated by the participating game machines 120, 130, and/or 140. Once the play of the community bonus round is completed, the bonus server 110 proceeds to calculate final results depending on the rules of the community bonus round. FIG. 3 ends in step 360.
  • [0060]
    FIG. 4 is a flow chart depicting the initiation and play of a community bonus round in another embodiment of the invention. FIG. 4 begins in step 400. In step 405, the player initiates game play. In one example, the player inputs currency, tokens, or tickets into the bill/ticket acceptor 250 (FIG. 2) of the game machine 120 (FIG. 1).
  • [0061]
    In step 410, the game machine 120 sends a game play event to the bonus server 110. In one example, the game machine 120 tracks the amount of currency received and prepares to initiate a game. The game machine 120 notifies the bonus server 110 that the player initiated game play. In some embodiments, the bonus server 110 directs the game machine 120 to display a selection of games to the player and prepare to receive a player selection. The player may input the selection with the programmable button panel 230 or through the touch-screen primary display 220. The game machine 120 directs the game selection to the bonus server 110 which then generates a control signal to the game machine 120 to display necessary graphics and program the appropriate inputs to play the selected game. The bonus server 110 also performs the game logic necessary to play the game. While the game is played, the game machine 120 transmits player inputs to the bonus server 110 which generates appropriate commands depending on the game logic.
  • [0062]
    In step 415, the bonus server 110 determines if the community bonus round is triggered. The bonus server 110 monitors the game play and the state of the game machine 120 to determine if those conditions are met. If the conditions are not met, FIG. 4 ends in step 450.
  • [0063]
    If the conditions are met, then FIG. 4 continues to step 420 where the bonus server 110 selects game machines 120, 130, and/or 140 and determines the bonus messages.
  • [0064]
    The bonus server 110 selects game machines 200 to join the community bonus round. The bonus server 110 may determine if any conflicts or game incompatibilities exist within each possible game machine 120, 130, and/or 140. In some embodiments, the bonus server 110 reviews player information to determine if any players are associated with each other. If there are available players or club members associated with the player playing the game machine 120 that has begun the community bonus round, the bonus server 110 may determine bonus messages. In one example, the bonus server 110 generates a command to display an invitation for the community bonus round to those players.
  • [0065]
    In one example, the bonus server 110 notifies the select game machines 120, 130, and/or 140 that a community bonus round has been triggered. The bonus server 110 commands the select game machines 120, 130, and/or 140 to display messages and graphics to the player on the game machines' primary display 220 or bonus display 210.
  • [0066]
    In other embodiments, the bonus server 110 contacts other bonus servers 110 to coordinate community bonus round logic between a plurality of game machines 120, 130, and 140.
  • [0067]
    In step 425, the bonus server 110 sends a start community bonus round signal to the select game machines 120, 130, and/or 140 identified in step 420 and begins timing. In one example, bonus server 110 generates commands to the select game machines 120, 130, and/or 140 to load a game interface, display necessary graphics, and program the respective programmable button panels 230 to play the community bonus round. In another example, the bonus server 110 generates a signal to the select game machines 120, 130, and/or 140 to display a countdown on the respective bonus displays 210 to herald the beginning of the community bonus round.
  • [0068]
    In step 430, the select game machines 120, 130, and/or 140 begin the community bonus round. Any graphics and community bonus round play may be depicted on the select game machines' bonus display 210, the primary display 220, or both.
  • [0069]
    In step 435, the select game machines 120, 130, and/or 140 send scores to the bonus server 110. In some embodiments, the bonus server 110 monitors the select game machines 120, 130, and/or 140 while directing community bonus round logic. In one example, the bonus server 110 tallies and calculates the scores of the select game machines 120, 130, and/or 140 during community bonus round play.
  • [0070]
    In step 440, the bonus server 110 calculates and transmits the community bonus round results to the select game machines 120, 130, and/or 140. In step 445, the bonus server 110 transmits messages to select game machines 120, 130, and/or 140. In some embodiments, the bonus server 110 directs the select game machines 120, 130, and/or 140 to display the results of the community bonus round play, award points, currency, awards, or prizes, and print tickets or receipts. The bonus server 110 then directs the select game machines 120, 130, and/or 140 to return to normal game play. FIG. 4 ends in step 450.
  • [0071]
    FIG. 5 is a block diagram of the game machine 200 in one embodiment of the invention. The game machine 200 includes a system bus 580 coupled to a processor 510, memory system 520, storage system 530, input/output (I/O) interface 540, communications (corn.) network interface 550, primary display 220, and the bonus display 210. The communications network interface 550 is further coupled to an external communications link 590.
  • [0072]
    The processor 510 is configured to execute software or instructions. The memory system 520 is any memory device configured to hold data, either permanently or temporarily, to make the data available to any components connected to the system bus 580. The memory system 520 may comprise battery-backed random access memory or read-only memory (ROM).
  • [0073]
    The storage system 530 is any storage device or group of storage devices configured to store data permanently or temporarily. In one embodiment, the storage system 530 implements a Read/Verify-after-Write (RVAW) policy where data is verified after being stored within the storage system 530. Further, the storage system 530 may comprise a storage device configured to receive and read external media.
  • [0074]
    The I/O interface 540 is any interface or device configured to provide input or output to the player of the game machine 200. For example, the I/O interface 540 may comprise a video interface, audio interface, a remote control, a keypad, joystick, touch-screen, or buttons. In another embodiment, the I/O interface 540 is coupled to the programmable button panel 230, the ticket printer 240, the bill/ticket acceptor 250, and the player loyalty system 260 which are each depicted in FIG. 2.
  • [0075]
    The communications network interface 550 is any communication interface configured to transfer data between any components connected to the system bus 580 and any network over the external communications link 590. The external communications link 590 couples the game machine 200 to any communications network.
  • [0076]
    FIG. 6 is a block diagram of the game machine module 600 in one embodiment of the invention. The game machine module 600 is software or hardware that is resident on the game machine 200 (FIG. 2). The game machine module 600 comprises a game client 610, client manager 620, client tilt engine 630, client state manager 640, client diagnostic module 650, client communication manager 660, client administrative console module 670, and game machine device drivers 680.
  • [0077]
    The game client 610 is an application configured to perform standard functions on the game machine 200. In some embodiments, the game client 610 processes game machine 200 inputs (e.g. a button press), communicates game events to the bonus server 110 (FIG. 1), controls output to the bonus display 210 (FIG. 2), controls output to the primary display 220, and/or maintains the game machine 200 state. In some embodiments, the game client 610 relies on data libraries, such as tilt and bonus server libraries, to perform standard functions.
  • [0078]
    The client manager 620 may function as the software controller for the game machine 200. The client manager 620 manages the game machine 200 configuration, loads games, unloads games and manages the display of marketing events.
  • [0079]
    The client manager 620 may also control the display of advertisements. In some embodiments, the client manager 620 may receive advertisements from a marketing server. When an advertisement is received by the client manager 620, the client manager 620 passes the advertisement to the game client 610 to be displayed.
  • [0080]
    The client tilt engine 630 generates tilts on error conditions in order to prevent cheating and flag errors in game play. For example, the client tile engine 630 triggers tilt conditions by errors associated with money, tampering with the game machine 200, alterations with software and/or firmware, or the behavior of third party systems.
  • [0081]
    The client state manager 640 monitors the operation and state of the game machine 200. The client state manager 640 is a repository of the current and past data for the game machine 200 and may function to maintain the data for the game machine's 200 hardware and software components.
  • [0082]
    The client diagnostic module 650 provides hardware and software diagnostic tests. For example, the client diagnostic module 650 checks the components of the game machine module 600 and the game machine 200. Regulatory requirements may require that gaming devices employ mechanisms to verify that game components are authentic and have not been corrupted or tampered with. The client diagnostic module 650 may perform a diagnostic test to verify and authenticate each component of the game machine module 600.
  • [0083]
    The client communication manager 660 controls the communication from the game machine 200 to the communications network. In one embodiment, the client communication manager 660 encrypts and decrypts communications to and from the communications network.
  • [0084]
    The client administrative console module 670 controls the function and display of the administrative console to the player or technician of the game machine 200. The administrative console is an interface configured to receive input from the technician. The game client 610 may trigger an administrative mode within the game machine 200 to display the administrative console.
  • [0085]
    The administrative console comprises options for configuring the game machine 200 and/or the game machine module 600. Further, the administrative console comprises options for diagnostic testing, viewing game information, viewing game machine 200 information, or viewing game machine module 600 information.
  • [0086]
    The game machine device drivers 680 are used to control and configure the components of the game machine 200. There may be a separate game machine device driver 480 for each component including the bonus display 210, the primary display 220, the programmable button panel 230, the ticket printer 240, the bill/ticket acceptor 250, the player loyalty system 260, the coin tray 270, and the candle 280 (FIG. 2). In one embodiment, one or more of the game machine device drivers 680 may be configured to generate reports or events that are received by the game client 610 or the bonus server 110 (FIG. 1).
  • [0087]
    For example, the game machine device driver 680 for the programmable button panel 230 may control the button background color, button text, button text color, and button value. In another example, when a button on the programmable button panel 230 is depressed, the appropriate game machine device driver 680 generates an event which identifies the button pressed and the button value. The game machine device driver 680 for the programmable button panel 230 may reprogram the buttons and button values as a game is played or when a community bonus round is activated.
  • [0088]
    FIG. 7 is a block diagram of a bonus server module 700 in one embodiment of the invention. The bonus server module 700 is software that is resident on the bonus server 110 (FIG. 1) and controls the community bonus round. The bonus server module 700 comprises a server module 705, a platform manager 710, a server tilt engine 715, a server state manager 720, a server communication manager 725, a synchronization agent 730, a game matrix module 735, a rules engine 740, a server diagnostic module 745, a server administration console module 750, and server device drivers 755.
  • [0089]
    The server module 705 interacts with the game client 610 (FIG. 6) within the game machine module 600 to control game play and the community bonus round. In some embodiments, the server module 705 controls all of the game logic while the game client 610 controls and records player inputs and graphics on the game machine's primary display device 210 (FIG. 2). In one example, the server module 705 manages the game state (e.g. number of credits in the game machine 200), determines outcomes, controls overall game behavior, and controls the community bonus round. The game client 610 is responsible for processing the game machine 200 input events (i.e. button press) and displays results (e.g. spinning and stopping wheels).
  • [0090]
    In other embodiments, the game logic is split between the server module 705 and the game client 610. For example, the server module 705 may control overall game behavior while the game client 610 determines outcomes. In further embodiments, the game client 610 performs all of the game logic and the server module 705 collects statistics and monitors performance of the game machine 200.
  • [0091]
    The server module 705 may control the community bonus round and game levels. In one example, the server module 705 controls community bonus round gaming between two or more game machines 200. For example, the server module 705 may set the condition necessary for the player of one game machine 200 to trigger a community bonus round. When that condition is met, the server module 705 determines which game machines 200 are active on the network, which game titles are loaded on each active game machine, which of the loaded games are compatible with the community bonus round, and if the games are in a state to participate in the community bonus round. The server module 705 extends invitations to the players which satisfy all conditions to play within the community bonus round. The server module 705 initiates a community bonus round with those which accept the invitation and then controls the community bonus round logic. It is appreciated that the server module 705 can simultaneously control game logic of multiple game machines 200 and community bonus round logic from multiple community bonus rounds.
  • [0092]
    During community bonus round play, the server module 705 returns play results and community bonus round updates to the participating game machines 200. The outcome of the community bonus round is also sent to the participating game machines 200. For example, each game machine receives the player's score or credits won in the community bonus round which may be displayed on the game machine's bonus display device 210 (FIG. 2). The process of community bonus round play is further described herein.
  • [0093]
    The server module 705 may also be configured to interact with other bonus servers 110 or other server modules 705 when controlling the community bonus round. For example, multiple server modules 705 may coordinate a community bonus round between many game machines 200. Each server module 705 may handle a specific number of game machines 200 thereby allowing the casino to provide for community bonus round gaming among any number of game machines 200 in any location (e.g. between different floors of the casino or between different casinos.) It is appreciated that the server modules. 705 allow for any amount of scaling to control and coordinate community bonus round game play.
  • [0094]
    In another embodiment, the server module 705 controls game levels. Game levels are similar to console video games where game play on the game machine 200 progresses from one level to the next. The determination of the triggering event that controls the transition from one level to another may be determined by the game developer. The server module 705 monitors the game machine 200 to determine if the triggering event is met and then controls the game logic that instructs the game machine 200 accordingly. It is appreciated that the server module 705 may control both community bonus rounds and game levels simultaneously.
  • [0095]
    In another example, the server module 705 may also store each player's top score and highest level achieved. This information may be stored on the game machine 200, the bonus server 110 (FIG. 1), and/or on the player loyalty card. As a result, the player may return, input the player loyalty card and resume playing at a different game machine 200 at the last level attained.
  • [0096]
    In further embodiments, the server module 705 is configured to load and unload games from the game machines 200. For example, the server module 705 may generate a command to remove or otherwise delete an existing game from the game machine 200. The server module 705 then downloads and loads client software, graphics, video data and sound data to the same game machine 200.
  • [0097]
    The platform manager 710, similar to the client manager 620 (FIG. 6) on the game machine 200, controls the software of the bonus server 110 (FIG. 1). In some embodiments, the platform manager 710 initiates the server module 705, loads and unloads games, coordinates the transmission of marketing events to the game machines 200, monitors maintenance, manages server configuration, controls the output of audit data, and processes events received from third-party systems.
  • [0098]
    The server tilt engine 715 monitors the operating state of the bonus server 110 and generates tilts on error conditions in order to prevent cheating.
  • [0099]
    The server state manager 720 monitors the operation of the bonus server 110. The server state manager 720 is a repository of the current and past data for data received from one or more of the game machines 200, the current and past data of the bonus server 110, and may function to maintain the data for the bonus server's 110 hardware and software components. The server state manager 720 also tracks the state of the bonus server 110 including, but not limited to, bonus server 110 undergoing maintenance, controlling one community bonus round, controlling multiple community bonus rounds, or communicating with other bonus servers 110.
  • [0100]
    The server communication manager 725 controls the communications from the bonus server 110 to and from the communications network. In one embodiment, the server communication manager 725 controls system authentication, communication channel termination, and processes asynchronous requests from external systems for data (e.g. meters, tilts, marketing). The platform manager 710 may control the server communication manager 725.
  • [0101]
    The synchronization agent 730 determines that at least one bonus server 110 is operating and processing game machine 200 requests. If a failure of the system should occur (e.g. there is no active bonus server 110 on the network), the synchronization agent 730 transitions all devices on the network to a failover state. For example, the synchronization agent 730 may send a signal to the client manager 620 to initiate a shut down of the game machine 200.
  • [0102]
    The game matrix module 735 is a data structure that defines relationships that are determined prior to activation of the gaming system. For example, the game matrix module 735 contains data that describes compatibility between games, compatibility of games and community bonus rounds, game functionality at different game machine 200 states, game functionality at different regions, and game licensing restrictions.
  • [0103]
    The rules engine 740 is a data structure containing conditions upon which events are triggered. In one example, the rules engine 740 may contain every game event that triggers a community bonus round. In some embodiments, the rules engine 740 also contains contingency conditions as well as events.
  • [0104]
    The server diagnostic module 745 provides hardware and software diagnostic checks of the bonus server 110 and the bonus server module 700. Regulatory requirements may require that the bonus server 110 employ mechanisms that verify that server components are authentic and have not been corrupted or tampered with. As a result, a diagnostic test is used to verify and authenticate each component of the bonus server 110 and the bonus server module 700.
  • [0105]
    The server administrative console module 750 controls the function and display of the administrative console to the player or technician of the bonus server 110. The server module 705 may trigger an administrative mode within the bonus server 110 to display a server administrative console.
  • [0106]
    The server administrative console comprises options for configuring the bonus server 110 and/or the bonus server module 700. Further, the server administrative console comprises options for server setup, security, game machines 200 settings, tilts, games, network setup, diagnostic tests, and marketing.
  • [0107]
    The server device drivers 755 are used to control and configure the components of the bonus server 110. There may be a separate server device driver 755 for each component of the bonus server 110. The components of the bonus server 110 may comprise a smart card reader, enclosure sensors, video display, network interface card, local storage system, I/O interface, and a memory system.
  • [0108]
    The bonus server module 700 and/or the game machine module 600 (FIG. 6) may have a marketing engine and a security module. In one example, the marketing engine manages the transmission and coordination of electronic marketing messages. Electronic marketing material, including advertisements and banners, may displayed by the game machine 200.
  • [0109]
    The security manager may control access to the game machine 200 and/or the bonus server 110. In one example, the security manager controls access to the client administration console 670 (FIG. 6) or the server administration console 750. In another example, the security manager may define access rights associated with different passwords. In other embodiments, the security manager may limit physical access to the inside of the game machine 200 or the bonus server 110. In one example, the security manager requires the technician to enter a smart card and input a password before allowing the technician to perform certain tasks on the game machine 200 or the bonus server 110.
  • [0110]
    The market for slot machines and game machines is dramatically increasing. As a consequence, casinos may lose players to an increasing number of competitors. In response, casinos are increasingly concerned with fostering player loyalty and improving profitability.
  • [0111]
    By allowing game machines 200 to play bonus rounds within a community, new games may be offered to players. The players within the community may directly compete with each other, work together, or experience new forms of entertainment that were previously unavailable. The casino may utilize community bonus round gaming to encourage groups, friends, associations, and clubs to game together or create excitement in a casino to entice other people to participate in community bonus round gaming. Community bonus round gaming may also be used by the casino to customize the gaming experience for different players by tracking their preferences, identities, associations, scores, and attained levels. In a marketplace where players are increasingly distracted by the number of slot machines, community bonus round gaming may be a new paradigm that refocuses player attention and increases the level of player service the casino can provide.
  • [0112]
    FIG. 8 is an illustration of images depicting an associative community bonus round game in one embodiment of the invention. An associative community bonus round (further discussed in FIG. 1 herein) is a community bonus round which allows a second user of a second game machine 200 (FIG. 2) to join a first user of a first game machine 200 within an associative bonus round game. The associative bonus round game is any game wherein the players (e.g., the respective users of the participating game machines 200) are awarded prizes for viewing the associative bonus round game or merely agreeing to participate. In one example, the first user of the first game machine 200 and the second user of the second game machine 200 agree to participate within the community bonus round game. Subsequently, a community bonus round game is displayed, and points or credits are awarded to the first user and the second user.
  • [0113]
    The associative bonus round game allows two or more players of different game machines 200 to play together within a single game. As a result, friends, members of clubs, or colleagues may be attracted to game machines 200 that comprise games that can trigger the associative bonus round. Players are more likely to return to game machines 200 that offer new opportunities to play together during each gaming session. In one example, two or more friends operate separate game machines 200 engaged in normal play. One of the friends may trigger the community bonus round. Each of the friends may be asked to join the associative bonus round game. Subsequently, the friends may view or participate in the associative bonus round game. Each friend may win different prizes and watch the associative bonus round game results. The associative bonus round game results is the play or outcome of the community bonus round game.
  • [0114]
    The associative bonus round changes the normal play and allows players to engage each other as a surprise. The players may also be awarded unexpected prizes. The associative bonus round game can change the normal game play of a game machine 200 allowing an improved gaming experience. In one example, the associative bonus round game may be animated and accompanied with lights and sound.
  • [0115]
    Image 800, image 810, and image 820 can be concurrently displayed on separate game machines 200 (FIG. 2) that participate within the associative community bonus round. Although three images are depicted in FIG. 8, there may be any number of images on any number of game machines 200. In other embodiments, a single game machine 200 can serially depict image 800, image 810, and image 820. The image 800, image 810, and image 820 can be displayed on the bonus display 210 (FIG. 2) and/or the primary display 220 (FIG. 2).
  • [0116]
    Image 800 depicts a golfer swinging at a golf ball, a high-level view of a golf hole, and information associated with the swing (e.g., hole number and yardage.) The image 800 may display additional information as well to add entertainment or realism. In some embodiments, the game machine 200 displays a prize within the image 800. In one example, the game machine 200 displaying the image 800 awards the user of the game machine 200 one-hundred bonus credits.
  • [0117]
    In some embodiments, the user of the game machine 200 may be asked to hit a button or otherwise interact with the game machine 200 to command the golfer to swing at the golf ball. After the golfer hits the ball, the prize may be awarded to the user.
  • [0118]
    After the image 800 is displayed and the prize is awarded to the user of the game machine 200, the game machine 200 may return to the normal game play. The prize may include, but not limited to, credits on the game machine 200, points within the associative community bonus round game, credit on a credit card, a payout, goods, services, coupons, or additional opportunities to play the game machine 200. In some embodiments, prize information associated with prizes awarded during the associative community bonus round are saved within the player loyalty system.
  • [0119]
    Image 810 depicts the golf ball bouncing across a fairway, a high-level view of the hole, and information associated with the associative community bonus round. In some embodiments, the game machine 200 displays an award to the user within the image 810. In one example, the game machine 200 displaying the image 810 awards the user twenty bonus credits.
  • [0120]
    Image 820 depicts a golf ball rolling into the short grass, a high-level view of the hole, and information associated with the associative community bonus round. In some embodiments, the image 820 also depicts an award to the user. In one example, the game machine 200 displaying the image 820 awards the user fifty bonus credits.
  • [0121]
    Although three images (i.e., image 800, image 810, and image 820) are depicted in FIG. 8, the images may be animated and or accompanied with sound. In one example, the image 800 may comprise an animation of a golfer swinging at a golf ball. In addition to the animation, the sound of a golfer hitting a golf ball may be played by the game machine 200. Similarly, the image 810 may comprise an animation of a golf ball hitting a fairway and bouncing away. Further, the image 820 may comprise an animation of a golf ball rolling in the short grass or falling into a golf hole. Each game machine 200 can add the sounds of a golf course or a crowd of spectators. In alternate embodiments, the image 800, image 810, and image 820 are fixed.
  • [0122]
    The game machines 200 may also depict other images. In one example, each game machine 200 displays a message to the respective user that an associative community bonus round game is about to begin. Each game machine 200 may give the user an opportunity to “opt-out” of the associative community bonus round game. The game machines 200 may further display the identity of the users about to play within the associative community bonus round game as well as a count down to the beginning of the associative community bonus round game.
  • [0123]
    FIG. 9 is a flow chart depicting the initiation and play of an associative community bonus round in one embodiment of the invention. FIG. 9 begins in step 900. In step 910, the first game machine 200 (FIG. 2) triggers an associative community bonus round. In one example, the first user of the first game machine 200 initiates normal game play by inputting cash within the first game machine 200. Upon each play within normal game play, a normal play game result within the normal game play may qualify for the associative community bonus round (e.g., a normal play game result of three “bonus” bars qualifies for the community bonus round.)
  • [0124]
    In step 920, the first game machine 200 activates the associative community bonus round. In some embodiments, the game machine 200 selects between multiple associative community bonus round games to activate. In an example, one associative community bonus round game may feature a golfer while another associative community bonus round game may feature billiards or any other event.
  • [0125]
    Once the first game machine 200 selects the associative community bonus round game, the first game machine 200 may select a level or a progressive associative community bonus round game. In one example, the first user of the first game machine 200 may trigger multiple associative community bonus rounds. The first associative community bonus round game may depict the first hole of a round of golf. The second associative community bonus round game triggered by the first game machine 200 may depict a second hole of golf and so forth. The award associated with each level of the associative community bonus round game may also increase.
  • [0126]
    In step 930, the first game machine 200 selects a second game machine 200 to join the first game machine in the community bonus round game. In one example, the first game machine 200 randomly selects the second game machine 200 to include in the associative community bonus round game. In another example, the first game machine 200 transmits a query to the second game machine 200 to determine if the second game machine 200 is currently within normal game play. If the second game machine 200 is currently within normal game play, then the first game machine transmits an initiation message to the second game machine 200 in step 940.
  • [0127]
    In some embodiments, the first game machine 200 selects the second game machine 200 based on a player association. The player association is any association between the first user of the first game machine 200 and the second user of the second game machine 200. The player loyalty system (further discussed in FIG. 2 herein) can track and store one or more player associations. In one example, the first game machine 200 queries the player loyalty system to identify a game machine 200 operated by a second user associated with the first user. The first game machine 200 may then select the other game machine 200 operated by the second user to join the first game machine in the associative community bonus round game.
  • [0128]
    In some embodiments, the second game machine 200 can receive the initiation message and trigger the associative community bonus round. Alternately, the second game machine 200 may merely display the associative community bonus round game and award points to the second user without triggering the associative community bonus round.
  • [0129]
    In step 950, the first game machine 200 and the second game machine 200 display the associative community bonus round game. In some embodiments, the bonus display 210 (FIG. 2) of the game machine 200 and the second game machine 200 displays the associative community bonus round game. In an example, the bonus display 210 of each game machine 200 notifies the respective users that the associative community bonus round game has been triggered. Further information displayed may include the identity of the first user of the first game machine 200 that triggered the associative community bonus round, the identity/location of the first game machine 200, and possible awards for participation. The respective bonus displays 210 may also provide the users the opportunity to “opt out” of the associative community bonus round game and/or display a countdown until the associative community bonus round game is to begin.
  • [0130]
    Optionally, the first user of the first game machine 200 may be awarded a first prize and the second user of the second game machine 200 may be awarded a second prize. In various embodiments, the first prize is more valuable than the second prize because the first prize is awarded to the first user who initiated the associative community bonus round. In other embodiments, the second prize may be more valuable than the first prize. In an example, the second game machine 200 displays the golf ball falling into a golf hole. Since the second game machine 200 depicted the “hole in one”, the second prize may be greater than or equal to the first prize. FIG. 9 ends in step 960.
  • [0131]
    Although FIG. 9 is a flowchart comprising two separate game machines 200, there may be any number of game machines 200 playing within the associative community bonus round game. For example, the first game machine 200 may transmit an initiation message to any number of other game machines 200. The first game machine 200 and the other game machines 200 may then display the associative community bonus round game (e.g., the first game machine 200 depicts a golfer hitting a golf ball, other game machines 200 depict the golf ball either flying or bouncing down a fairway, and the last game machine 200 depicts the golf ball falling into a sand trap or landing in the green.) A prize may then be awarded for the respective user of each game machine 200 that depicted the associative community bonus round game. The valuation of the prizes may be independent of each other, may be distributed equally, or may be based on a predetermined calculation.
  • [0132]
    FIG. 10 is a flow chart depicting the initiation and play of an associative community bonus round in another embodiment of the invention. FIG. 10 begins in step 1000. In step 1010, the game machine 200 (FIG.2) transmits game information to the bonus server 110 (FIG. 1). In an example, the game machine 200 operates in normal game play. The game machine 200 transmits the normal game play results of the normal game play to the bonus server 110 as they occur. In other embodiments, the game machine 200 transmits only some of the normal game play results to the bonus server 110.
  • [0133]
    The bonus server 110 receives the game information from the game machine 200 and determines if the associative community bonus round is triggered in step 1020. In some embodiments, the bonus server 110 bases the determination on the normal game play results. In an example, the bonus server 110 determines that a normal game play result of three cherries triggers the associative community bonus round. In another example, the bonus server 110 determines that a combination of normal game play results in series triggers the associative community bonus round. If the bonus server 110 determines that an associative community bonus round has been triggered, the bonus server 110 continues to stop 1030, otherwise, FIG. 10 ends in step 1070.
  • [0134]
    In step 1030, the bonus server 110 activates the associative bonus round. In some embodiments, the bonus server 110 transmits an activation message to the first game machine 200 to activate the associative bonus round. In some embodiments, the activation of the associative bonus round is optional.
  • [0135]
    In step 1040, the bonus server 110 selects one or more other game machines 200 to participate within the associative community bonus round game. The bonus server 110 may base the selection of the one or more other game machines 200 on those game machines 200 that are currently operating in the normal game play or to those operated by users associate to each other within the player loyalty system.
  • [0136]
    In step 1050, the bonus server 110 transmits the initiation message to the game machine 200 and at least one other selected game machine 200. In some embodiments, the game machines 200 that receive the initiation message from the bonus server 110 prepare to display the associative community bonus round game. In other embodiments, the game machine 200 that originally transmitted the triggering game information to the bonus server (e.g., in step 1010) activates the associative community bonus round while the other game machines 200 prepare to display the associative community bonus round game. Alternately, all of the game machines 200 that receive the initiation message may activate the associative community bonus round.
  • [0137]
    In step 1060, the game machine 200 and at least one other selected game machine 200 display the associative community bonus round game. In one example, the game machine 200 and at least one other selected game machine 200 display the same images within the associative community bonus round game. In another example, each game machine 200 may display a different image or animation.
  • [0138]
    In some embodiments, the bonus server 110 transmits the appropriate image to each game machine 200 participating in the associative community bonus round game. In one example, the bonus server 110 processes the game logic of the associative community bonus round game to determine images for each participating game machine 200 and transmits the images to the respective game machines 200. Alternately, the bonus server 110 processes the game logic of the associative community bonus round game and transmits instructions for the game machines 200 to generate images.
  • [0139]
    In step 1070, the bonus server 110 calculates associative community bonus round game results and awards prizes to the user of the game machine 200 and the other users of the other selected game machines 200. The bonus server 110 can process the game logic of the associative community bonus round game to award prizes to the respective users. In an example, the bonus server 110 awards points to the respective users and transmits the number of points rewarded to the respective game machines 200. Alternately, the bonus server 110 may transmit a notice of a goods or services. The bonus server 110 may also track and store prize information within the player loyalty system. Prize information is information associated with the prize including, but not limited to, type of prize, amount awarded, value of prize, identity of user receiving the prize, and the game machine 200 the user was operating when the prize was awarded. FIG. 10 ends in step 1080.
  • [0140]
    Although FIG. 10 discusses the bonus server 1.10 as processing within the associative community bonus round, the bonus server 110 may only assist a game machine 200 in the processing and implementation of the associative community bonus round. In one example, the first game machine 200 may trigger an associative community bonus round whereupon the first game machine 200 may query the bonus server 110 for other game machines 200 that fit certain requirements. The bonus server 110 may track the status of each game machine 200 (e.g., actively playing in normal game play or idle,) the games available on each game machine 200, and the users through the player loyalty system. The bonus server 110 may use this information to select one or more other game machines 200 and transmit the selection to the first game machine 200. The first game machine 200 may then transmit an initiation message to the selected game machines to display the associative community bonus round game. The bonus server 110 or the first game machine 200 may process the associative community bonus round game logic and award points to each respective user.
  • [0141]
    The above-described functions can be comprised of instructions that are stored on a storage medium. The instructions can be retrieved and executed by a processor. Some examples of instructions are software, program code, and firmware. Some examples of storage medium are memory devices, tape, disks, integrated circuits, and servers. The instructions are operational when executed by the processor to direct the processor to operate in accord with the invention. Those skilled in the art are familiar with instructions, processor(s), and storage medium.
  • [0142]
    In the foregoing specification, the invention is described with reference to specific embodiments thereof, but those skilled in the art will recognize that the invention is not limited thereto. Various features and aspects of the above-described invention may be used individually or jointly. Further, the invention can be utilized in any number of environments and applications beyond those described herein without departing from the broader spirit and scope of the specification. According, the specification and drawings are to be regarded as illustrative rather than restrictive.

Claims (36)

  1. 1. A software product for gaming, the software product comprising:
    software operational when executed by a processor to direct the processor to activate an associative community bonus round on a first game machine, select a second game machine to join the first game machine in an associative community bonus round game, transmit an initiation message to the selected second game machine, and display the associative community bonus round game on the first game machine; and
    a storage medium configured to store the software.
  2. 2. The software product of claim 1 wherein activation of the associative community bonus round is based on a normal play game result on the first game machine.
  3. 3. The software product of claim 1 wherein selection of the second game machine is based on a player association between a first user of the first game machine and a second user of the second game machine within a player loyalty system.
  4. 4. The software product of claim 1 wherein the initiation message is configured to initiate display of the associative community bonus round game on the selected second game machine.
  5. 5. The software product of claim 1 wherein the software is operational when further executed by the processor to determine an associative bonus round game result and determine a prize to a first user of the first game machine based on the associative bonus round game result.
  6. 6. The software product of claim 1 wherein a bonus display of the first game machine displays the associative community bonus round game.
  7. 7. The software product of claim 1 wherein the software is operational when further executed by the processor to display a prize to a first user of the first game machine.
  8. 8. The software product of claim 7 wherein the software is operational when further executed by the processor to store prize information associated with the prize within a player loyalty system.
  9. 9. The software product of claim 1 wherein the software is operational when further executed by the processor to process game logic of the associative bonus round game.
  10. 10. The software product of claim 1 wherein the first game machine comprises a slot machine.
  11. 11. The software product of claim 1 wherein the first game machine comprises an amusement device.
  12. 12. The software product of claim 1 wherein the software is operational when executed by the processor to command the first game machine to award one or more points redeemable by a first user.
  13. 13. A method of gaming, the method comprising:
    activating an associative community bonus round on a first game machine;
    selecting a second game machine to join the first game machine in an associative community bonus round game;
    transmitting an initiation message to the selected second game machine; and
    displaying the associative community bonus round game on the first game machine.
  14. 14. The method of claim 13 wherein activating the associative community bonus round is based on a normal play game result on the first game machine.
  15. 15. The method of claim 13 wherein selecting the second game machine is based on a player association between a first user of the first game machine and a second user of the second game machine within a player loyalty system.
  16. 16. The method of claim 13 wherein the initiation message is configured to initiate displaying the associative community bonus round game on the selected second game machine.
  17. 17. The method of claim 13 further comprising:
    determining an associative bonus round game result; and
    determining a prize to a first user of the first game machine based on the associative bonus round game result.
  18. 18. The method of claim 13 wherein a bonus display of the first game machine displays the associative community bonus round game.
  19. 19. The method of claim 13 further comprising displaying a prize to a first user of the first game machine.
  20. 20. The method of claim 19 further comprising storing prize information associated with the prize within a player loyalty system.
  21. 21. The method of claim 13 further comprising processing game logic of the associative bonus round game within the first game machine.
  22. 22. The method of claim 13 further comprising processing game logic of the associative bonus round game within a bonus server.
  23. 23. The method of claim 13 wherein the first game machine comprises a slot machine.
  24. 24. The method of claim 13 wherein the first game machine comprises an amusement device.
  25. 25. The method of claim 13 further comprising commanding the first game machine to award one or more points redeemable by a first user.
  26. 26. A gaming system comprising:
    a first game machine configured to activate an associative community bonus round, select a second game machine to join within an associative bonus round game, and display an associative community bonus round game; and
    the selected second game machine configured to display the associative community bonus round game.
  27. 27. The system of claim 26 wherein activating the associative community bonus round is based on a normal play game result on the first game machine.
  28. 28. The system of claim 26 wherein selecting the second game machine is based on a player association between a first user of the first game machine and a second user of the second game machine within a player loyalty system.
  29. 29. The system of claim 26 wherein the first game machine is further configured to determine an associative bonus round game result and determine a prize to a first user of the first game machine based on the associative bonus round game result.
  30. 30. The system of claim 26 wherein a bonus display of the first game machine displays the associative community bonus round game.
  31. 31. The system of claim 26 wherein the first game machine is further configured to display a prize to first user of the first game machine.
  32. 32. The system of claim 26 wherein the first game machine is further configured to process the game logic of the associative bonus round game.
  33. 33. The system of claim 26 further comprising a bonus server configured to process the game logic of the associative bonus round game.
  34. 34. The system of claim 26 wherein the first game machine comprises a slot machine.
  35. 35. The system of claim 26 wherein the first game machine comprises an amusement device.
  36. 36. The system of claim 26 wherein the first processor is configured to command the first game machine to award one or more points redeemable by a first user.
US11502148 2005-08-09 2006-08-09 Associative community bonus round Abandoned US20070060330A1 (en)

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US70704805 true 2005-08-09 2005-08-09
US11202483 US20070060317A1 (en) 2005-08-09 2005-08-11 Community bonus round gaming
US11502148 US20070060330A1 (en) 2005-08-09 2006-08-09 Associative community bonus round

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Effective date: 20060807