US20070243936A1 - Interactive tournament contest - Google Patents

Interactive tournament contest Download PDF

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Publication number
US20070243936A1
US20070243936A1 US11714292 US71429207A US2007243936A1 US 20070243936 A1 US20070243936 A1 US 20070243936A1 US 11714292 US11714292 US 11714292 US 71429207 A US71429207 A US 71429207A US 2007243936 A1 US2007243936 A1 US 2007243936A1
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Prior art keywords
game
providing
method
participants
participant
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US11714292
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Bill Binenstock
Michael Brandon
Julia Contes
Antonio Fernandez
Ashley Frisch
Patrick Herde
John Hopwood
Terrence Lee
Leandro Lima
Carl Rischar
Steve Snyder
George Wakeling
Kar Wong
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CBS Interactive Inc
CBS Corp
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CBS Corp
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q10/00Administration; Management
    • G06Q10/10Office automation, e.g. computer aided management of electronic mail or groupware; Time management, e.g. calendars, reminders, meetings or time accounting
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q30/00Commerce, e.g. shopping or e-commerce
    • G06Q30/02Marketing, e.g. market research and analysis, surveying, promotions, advertising, buyer profiling, customer management or rewards; Price estimation or determination

Abstract

An exemplary embodiment of the present invention sets forth a system, method and computer program product which may include providing an interactive tournament contest; allowing at least one participant participating in the tournament contest to invite at least one additional participant to participate in the tournament contest; and providing a prize to the winner of the interactive tournament contest, wherein a value of the prize increases dependent upon a total number of the participants participating in the tournament contest.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application claims the benefit of U.S. Patent Application No. 60/778,945 entitled “Interactive Tournament Contest,” filed Mar. 6, 2006, Attorney Docket Number 41325-231681, and is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 11/669,883 entitled “Online Waiting Room System, Method, and Computer Program Product,” filed Jan. 31, 2007, Attorney Docket Number 41325-231682, both of which are of common assignee to the present invention, the contents of both of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties.
  • BACKGROUND
  • 1. Field
  • Generally, embodiments of the present invention relate to massively multiplayer online (MMO) games, more specifically to MMO tournaments, and more particularly to MMO tournament games.
  • 2. Related Art
  • Massively multiplayer online (MMO) games may allow multiple distributed people to participate in a game which may occur within a shared virtual world. Conventionally, MMOs have existed for such categories as, e.g., but not limited to, first person shooter games. The holy grail of mass market MMOs require much more scaleable systems than used in conventional MMOs.
  • Tournaments are organized competitions, such as, e.g., but not limited to, head-to-head competitions or contests, between a group of participants or contestants. Many sporting contests and other competitions occur in the tournament format. Example tournaments include the United States' National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Men's Basketball tournament, which occurs annually in the March time period. Contestants in a tournament are often ranked by their skill level, and then “seeded,” or placed, into brackets. Conventionally, seeding will take place to avoid having the best athletes eliminate one another in early rounds. Thus, seeding determines in which bracket the contestant plays. Seeding may intentionally separate the best ranked athletes to increase the chance that these best ranked contestants will only meet in later rounds of the tournament. If there are an uneven number of contestants, some contestants may get to pass a round, referred to colloquially as “getting a bye.”
  • Online networked environments such as the Internet and world wide web have brought interactivity to the video game world. MMO game technologies can allow multiple remote players to participate in a shared video game. Unfortunately, conventional MMO games lack adequate scalability to support mass market applications.
  • SUMMARY
  • Exemplary embodiments of the present invention set forth a method, system and computer program product for providing an interactive game (such as, e.g., but not limited to, a tournament, a skill game, a tournament with prizing, and/or a contest), which may be used to drive traffic to a given location such as, e.g., but not limited to, a website. An exemplary embodiment of the method may include: a) providing an interactive game; b) allowing at least one participant in the game to invite at least one additional participant to participate in the game; and c) providing an incentive to the winner of the game, wherein a value of the incentive increases dependent upon a total number of the participants in the game. In an exemplary embodiment, the game may be a massively multiplayer online game (MMO). In one exemplary embodiment, the game may include a game such as, e.g., but not limited to, a tournament, a skill game, a tournament with prizing, and/or a contest, and/or tournament contest.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the method may further include d) providing an indication of growth of the value of the prize as the total number of the contestants participating increases. One exemplary embodiment of the method may include where the indication may include at least one of: a graphical indication; an image; a video image; an animated image; a graphical indication; a multi-dimensional indication; a two-dimensional indication; a three-dimensional indication; a pyramid; a cone; a cylindrical; a tower; a polygon; a triangle; and/or a rectangle.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the method may include where the interactive tournament contest may include head-to-head pairings.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the method may further include at least one of: d) tracking performance in the tournament contest of invited contestants of a given contestant; and/or e) providing the performance of the invited contestants to the given contestant.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the method may include where (b) may include at least one of: allowing the at least one contestant to invite a plurality of additional contestants at one time; allowing the at least one contestant to maintain a buddy list of additional contestants; and/or allowing the at least one contestant to track performance of the buddy list.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the method may include where the (a) may include: providing a countdown to start clock to the contestants.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the method may include where the (a) may include: providing a commencement indication of the approaching time of commencement of the tournament.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the method may include where the commencement indication may include at least one of: an audio indication, a video indication, a musical indication, and/or a crescendo musical indication.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the method may include where the tournament contest may include at least one of: a plurality of questions; a plurality of rounds; a plurality of rounds may include a plurality of questions; a timed question; a timed round; a plurality of timed rounds may include a plurality of timed questions; a round of at least one of: at least one question, 2 questions, 3 questions, 4 questions, 5 questions, 6 questions, 7 questions, and/or n questions; a fill in the blank question; a multiple choice question; and/or a true and/or false question.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the method may include where points in the tournament contest are earned by the at least one contestant by at least one of: correctly answering a question, correctly answering a question prior to completion of a timer, correctly answering a question prior to another of the at least one contestants, and/or correctly answering a question faster than another of the at least one contestants.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the method may include where the tournament contest may include at least one of: providing a head-to-head tournament; providing a head-to-head bracketed pairing; providing an online tournament; providing a web-based tournament; providing an interactive television-based tournament; providing a single elimination tournament; providing at least a double elimination tournament; providing a consolation round; providing a consolation round wherein winning is only dependent on total points earned in a tournament; and/or providing a consolation round with multiple participants in a one-to-many contest.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the method may include where (b) may include at least one of: providing the at least one contestant an indication of points earned in at least one of a round, and/or the tournament; and/or providing the at least one contest an indication of points earned by the at least one additional contestant invited by the at least one contestant.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the method may include where (b) may include: providing a buddy list to the at least one contestant; and/or providing an avatar to the at least one contestant.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the method may further include at least one of: providing statistics about performance of the at least one contestant; providing results of the tournament contest; providing at least one top performance of the at least one contestants; providing a list of the performance of the top ten of the at least one contestants; and/or providing performance results to the at least one contestant from at least one of the tournament and/or a previous tournament.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the method may further include at least one of: providing an advertisement (ad) during at least one of: before, between, and/or during one or more rounds of the tournament contest; providing a banner ad; providing a video ad; providing an audio ad; providing an animated ad; providing content; providing audio content; and/or providing video content.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the method may further include providing a schedule of at least one of a current tournament, a past tournament and/or a future tournament.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the method may further include providing, in the event of an odd number of contestants, at least one of: a bye, a token contestant, a ghost contestant, a computer-generated contestant, a sacrificial lamb contestant, and/or a software agent contestant.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the method may further include enabling a third party may include at least one of a business, an individual, a consumer, a charity, and/or an entity, to conduct the tournament contest may include at least one of: receiving a selection of a skin option; receiving a mod option; receiving a third party sponsored prize; receiving a fee from the third party; and/or sharing revenue sharing with the third party.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the method may further include enabling collaboration between two or more contestants may include providing at least one of: an Internet chat session; an instant message; a chat room; an email; and/or a voice-over Internet Protocol (VoIP) session.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the method may further include an application enabling provision of the tournament contest, the application providing at least one of: a program on a computer readable medium, a downloadable program, an applet, a web-enabled application, and/or a JAVA application.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the method may include where the method is performed on at least one of: a browser-based system; a standalone workstation-based system; a client-server based system; a server-based system; and/or an application service provider (ASP)-based system.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the method may include where the method is used for attracting users including at least one of: attracting non-registered new subscribers; attracting traffic from existing subscribers; and/or attracting live people.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the method may include where the users being attracted are being attracted to at least one of: a website; a broadcast; a program; an event; a sporting event; an entertainment event; access to content; a viewing of content; and/or playback of content.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the method may include where c) may include at least one of: providing a fact-related contest; providing an entertainment related contest; providing a content related contest; providing a movie content related contest; providing a music content related contest; providing a television content related contest; providing a sports related contest; providing a current events related contest; providing a news related contest; providing a trivia contest; providing a sports trivia contest; providing an entertainment trivia contest; providing a movie trivia contest; providing a television trivia contest; providing a television program trivia contest; and/or providing a broadcast trivia contest.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the method may further include requiring the contestants to perform at least one of: performing a reverse Turing test to indicate a live contestant; entering a unique indicator of the at least one contestant; entering a social security number of the at least one contestant; and/or entering an email address of the at least one contestant.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the method may include where c) may include: increasing the value of the prize after at least one of: the total number reaches at least one threshold level of participation, the total number exceeds at least one threshold level of participation, the total number falls within a range of participation, the total number reaches a level of participation, and/or the total number reaches a tier of participation.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the method may include where the c) may include providing a tournament to users using at least one of: a browser enabled device; a web browser-enabled device; a web device; a computing device; a communications device; a telephony device; an interactive television (iTV) device; a wireless device; a personal digital assistant device; a location-based device; and/or a geographic positioning system (GPS) location-based device.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the system may include an interactive tournament contest, adapted to allow at least one contestant participating in the tournament contest to invite at least one additional contestant to participate in the tournament contest, and adapted to provide a prize to the winner of the interactive tournament contest, wherein a value of the prize increases dependent upon a total number of the contestants participating in the tournament contest.
  • Another exemplary embodiment of the system may include means for providing an interactive tournament contest; means for allowing at least one contestant participating in the tournament contest to invite at least one additional contestant to participate in the tournament contest; and means for providing a prize to the winner of the interactive tournament contest, wherein a value of the prize increases dependent upon a total number of the contestants participating in the tournament contest.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the computer readable medium may include a computer-readable medium embodying logic which when executed on a computer performs a method may include: providing an interactive tournament contest; allowing at least one contestant participating in the tournament contest to invite at least one additional contestant to participate in the tournament contest; and providing a prize to the winner of the interactive tournament contest, wherein a value of the prize increases dependent upon a total number of the contestants participating in the tournament contest.
  • Another exemplary embodiment of the invention may set forth a method of providing a scaleable massively multiplayer online (MMO) game, which may include: a) upon determining a total number of participants for a game, merging participants into a minimal number of segments having up to a predetermined capacity of participants per segment; b) populating any unfilled of the minimal number of segments with at least one of a ghost and/or a bye, to completely fill each of the minimal number of segments to the predetermined capacity.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the invention may further include at least one of: c) randomly assigning participants to initial segments; d) randomly assigning participants to initial segments prior to determining the total number of participants for the game; e) reassigning the participants to a different segment of the available segments based on any seeding of the participants.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the invention may further include: c) seeding the participants within each of the segments.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the invention may further include: d) reassigning the participants to another segment of the segments, based on the seeding.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the invention where a) may include: determining a minimal number of segments needed to get as close as possible to a predetermined capacity limitation into which to divide the total number of participants, to reach less than or equal to a pre-determined segment capacity limit.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the invention where the determining may include: determining a number x of segments into which to place the participants, which provides a value Nx, where the value Nx is a nearest value, greater than or equal to, the total number of participants.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the invention, where x is equal to the number of rounds to be played in the game.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the invention where the N is equal to at least one of: 2 for a head-to-head competition; 3 for a three-way competition; 4 for a four-way competition; 4 for a bridge-like competition; 5 for a 5-way competition game; 5 for a poker competition game; 6 for a 6-way competition game; 7 for a 7-way competition game; 8 for an 8-way competition game; 9 for a 9-way competition game; and/or 10 for a 10-way competition game.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the invention where a given segment to which a participant is assigned is transparent to the participant.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the invention where merging may include merging participants together with a best fit algorithm.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the invention where there are not more Ghost and/or bye participants than real participants.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the invention may further include seeding and where the seeding may include: seeding based on a rating level of the participants, where the rating level of the participants is assigned based on participant performance; seeding in bracket style, where the bracket style may include having highest-rated participants play lowest-rated participants.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the invention may further include: d) at the end of a round, creating a new segment in a new round; and e) merging winners from previous adjacent segments into the new segment.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the invention where for a game having each segment populated with a Nx participants, only 1 of every group of the Nx participants move into the next segment.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the invention where participants in the consolation round are not reassigned from their segments because they are not involved in matchups.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the invention where the predetermined capacity may include at least one of: 1024 participants per segment; and/or a quantity Nx, where N equals a number of participants per segment, and where x may include a number of rounds of the game.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the invention where c) may include: determining a quantity Nx segments, where N is equal to a number participants per segment, and wherein x may include a number of rounds of the game.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the invention, where N is equal to 2 for a head-to-head competition.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the invention, where N is equal to 4 for a bridge competition.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the invention, where N is equal to 5 for a poker competition.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the invention, where as a value of N increases, the number of rounds of the game decrease, and the faster the game is completed.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the invention, where x is equal to a number of rounds of the game.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the invention, where x is equal to a number of initial segments.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the invention, where data transmission packets are the same size regardless of the total number of participants.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • Various exemplary features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following, more particular description of exemplary embodiments of the present invention, as illustrated in the accompanying drawings wherein like reference numbers generally indicate identical, functionally similar, and/or structurally similar elements. The left most digits in the corresponding reference number indicate the drawing in which an element first appears.
  • FIG. 1 depicts an exemplary computer system that may be used in implementing an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIGS. 2-4 depict various exemplary embodiments of ways by which contestants may access a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game including, e.g., a tournament contest according to the present invention, via exemplary interactive television (ITV) environments.
  • FIG. 5 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a screenshot from within an exemplary Trivia Tower game.
  • FIG. 6 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a screenshot from within an exemplary Trivia Tower game.
  • FIG. 7 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a screenshot from within an exemplary Trivia Tower game.
  • FIG. 8 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a screenshot from within an exemplary Trivia Tower game.
  • FIG. 9 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a screenshot from within an exemplary Trivia Tower game.
  • FIG. 10 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a screenshot from within an exemplary Trivia Tower game.
  • FIG. 11 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a screenshot from within an exemplary Trivia Tower game.
  • FIG. 12 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a screenshot from within an exemplary Trivia Tower game.
  • FIG. 13 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a screenshot from within an exemplary Trivia Tower game.
  • FIG. 14 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a screenshot from within an exemplary Trivia Tower game.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS OF THE PRESENT INVENTION
  • Various exemplary embodiments including a preferred embodiment of the present invention are discussed in detail below. While specific exemplary embodiments are discussed, it should be understood that this is done for illustration purposes only. A person skilled in the relevant art will recognize that other components and configurations may be used without parting from the spirit and scope of the invention.
  • Game Overview
  • According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, a Trivia Tower game and/or tournament contest may place many users into a single-elimination tournament style of head-to-head contest and/or game. According to an exemplary embodiment, the game may be an interactive application accessible by a user from, e.g., but not limited to, a computing device, a computer, a personal computer (PC), a workstation, a laptop, notebook, handheld, palm top device, a personal digital assistant (PDA), a communications device, a telephony device, a mobile phone, a client, a server, a terminal, a local and/or remote device, a wired and/or wireless device, a web-based and/or Internet coupled device, and/or an interactive television (TV) device.
  • According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, losers of a first level of a tournament may participate in a consolation round, which may be, in an exemplary embodiment, a one on many contest. According to another exemplary embodiment, a double-elimination, a triple-elimination, and/or greater levels and/or or other types of tournament style games may be provided. According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, users may be divided into rooms, and may be asked in real time the same set of questions. According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, questions answered correctly may award the user points based on how quickly the answer was submitted. According to an exemplary embodiment, the more quickly one answers may award a user a greater number of points. According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, wrong answers may result in a user receiving no points (or a negative amount). According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, the winner of each room may advance to the next round, and the process may repeat until there may be a sole winner. According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, the user may be also referred to as, e.g., but not limited to, a participant, a contestant, a player, etc.
  • According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, a consolation room may be created where, e.g., but not limited to, all the losers can continue playing after they may have been eliminated from a single elimination, main tournament. According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, users may carry forward the points they may have accumulated during the bracket portion of the contest as their starting points for the consolation game.
  • According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, the game may be able to run on a website so as to drive traffic and new subscribers to a website such as, e.g., but not limited to, sports, news, content and/or entertainment websites. Although the exemplary embodiment describes an online website tournament contest, the present invention is equally applicable to other interactive environments such as, e.g., interactive television (iTV), etc. Similarly, alternative exemplary embodiments may be used to obtain additional traffic to other content sites such as, e.g., but not limited to, movie content sites, television programming sites, programming service sites, broadcast sites, video content sites, audio content sites, music content sites, and/or music video content sites, etc.
  • Questions
  • According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, the questions which may be posed in an exemplary tournament contest which may include, in an exemplary embodiment, an exemplary head-to-head and/or or consolation round, may include multiple choice questions, and may ideally include, e.g., but not limited to, 4, 5, less, and/or more, incorrect answers. Although the exemplary embodiment contemplates multiple-choice questions, as will be apparent to those skilled in the art, the invention is equally applicable to other well known questions such as, e.g., but not limited to, true/false, fill-in-the-blank, trivia, etc. For advanced games, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, questions may be grouped, e.g., but not limited to, by topic, so that there may be games about, e.g., but not limited to, specific subjects including sports, entertainment, media, content, news, current events, movies, television, etc.
  • According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, each question may include, e.g., but not limited to, the following fields:
      • Question topic
      • Question difficulty
      • Question text
      • Number of answers
      • Correct answer
      • Incorrect answer 1
      • Incorrect answer 2
      • Incorrect answer n
      • Extra information expanding on the content of the question and answer
      • Question expiration (i.e. each question may include further data indicating, e.g., but not limited to, for how long the question may be valid, a date when the question may be checked to see if it may be still valid, or a flag indicating that it may never expire, etc.).
  • While there may exist a general database of, e.g., but not limited to, sports-related and/or other questions to be used for the majority of the games in the early weeks and months after launch of a tournament contest, such as, e.g., but not limited to, the Trivia Tower contest product available from CBS SportsLine of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. USA. According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, special events games may use their own customized set of questions. According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, the special event games can be created around special events such as, e.g., but not limited to, sporting events (including, e.g., but not limited to, the Olympics, the Super Bowl, the NCAA basketball tournament, etc.), TV broadcasts, movies, news, current events, and/or other timely features (like a daily game based on information that appeared in columns posted on cbssportsline.com from, e.g., but not limited to, the previous day), etc. Ultimately, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, trivia databases can be created (or bought) and a contest, according to an exemplary embodiment, can be run on virtually any topic imaginable including, e.g., but not limited to, a “grab-bag” of all topics and/or specific topical groupings (such as, e.g., but not limited to, CBS Trivia, SportsLine Trivia, Trivia, movie trivia, TV trivia, content trivia, etc.). A topical hierarchy, according to one exemplary embodiment of the present invention, may be necessary to enable these groupings and meta-tagging of each question may be required.
  • While the actual quality of the questions, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, may not be relevant to the architecture, design and implementation of the present invention, question quality may be an important component of some games. According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, a good database of questions will allow for scaleability of a tournament to an increasingly large tournament contest. Tournament contest question maintenance features according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, may allow easy removal of questions as the questions lose their relevancy and become obsolete, as time passes. Thus, information regarding the number of times a question has been used and the percentage of times each answer has been guessed correctly, may be gathered. Difficulty of question data may be used, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, to retire questions from use. According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, questions may be packaged for use in “questions you've surely seen before” games. Analysis may be performed, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, to determine if original question difficulty assessments should be updated (i.e., e.g., but not limited to, a question deemed “difficult” might actually be, or become over time, e.g., frequency of use, “easy” from). According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, question difficulty may be used to order questions in such a way that, e.g., but not limited to, later rounds may use harder questions than earlier rounds of questions.
  • Game Setup
  • A Trivia Tower Game (or tournament contest, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention) may have the following parameters, to be set when the game may be created:
      • Game Id (not modifiable, just a way to uniquely identify the game)
      • Game subject or topic, specified from a hierarchy of options
      • Game level (beginner, intermediate, advanced)
      • Minimum number of players
      • Maximum number of players
      • Room size
      • Seeded or random room groupings
      • Use of ghost players or automatic byes
      • Skill level for ghost players
      • Questions per round
      • Maximum points awarded for getting a question right in the minimum amount of time
      • Maximum amount of time for answering each question
      • Last answer or 1st answer only
      • Date and time when game may start
      • Whether a game may be public or private
      • Game password (for private games)
      • Whether a consolation game may be created
  • According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, some of these parameters may be user-modifiable in games created by users. For user-created games, as selections may be made, the pragmatic implications of the user selections may be clearly stated. According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, the likelihood of populating the game and how long it may take to play the game to its conclusion, may be considered and/or provided to the user. For example, see Tables 1 and 2 below for exemplary data which may be shared. Dynamic defaults based on already-specified numbers may be provided, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.
  • The main game setup page, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, may display existing games and may allow users to search for specific games. A game (or tournament contest) may be listed with some of the game's attributes (such as, e.g., but not limited to, time it may start, number of players currently in it, maximum number of players, room size, etc.) and a link to join the game if it hasn't started yet.
  • This page may also allow users to create new games, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. According to another exemplary embodiment of the present invention, the creation of games may be allowed via an automated process, after selection of or definition of a few simple rules (such as, e.g., but not limited to, how often, types of games, scheduling, etc.).
  • According to another exemplary embodiment of the present invention, completed games may be archived, including, e.g., but not limited to, saving the most relevant information (such as, e.g., but not limited to, a winner, top x-number of finalists (e.g., 10), and associated statistics including, e.g., but not limited to, points). According to another exemplary embodiment of the present invention, a list of these games may be available on a secondary page and the list may be searchable by date and user. This way, winners can prove to their friends that they won a particular game.
  • Lobby
  • According to another exemplary embodiment of the present invention, between the time a game may be created and the time that it may start, users may join the game. During this time, prior to commencement of the game, in an exemplary embodiment, users may be placed in the game lobby where these users may, in an exemplary embodiment, see the names of other users in the game. As the number of users grows, listing names of all users may be difficult to impossible to display in a useful form. In an exemplary embodiment, information regarding the numbers of users participating, the contestants invited by the contestant, and/or information about the top N players, etc., may be shown instead.
  • The functionality of the lobby may include, according to another exemplary embodiment of the present invention:
      • Validating the game password for users joining private games
      • Allowing users to invite their friends (via, e.g., an automatically generated message, a buddy list, etc.), via email, via on-site alerts and any other alerting platform, Internet chat, instant message, etc.
      • Allowing users to drop out of the game
      • Display the top N players (by trivia ranking) in the game so far
      • Chat with other users (e.g., in private games, within buddy lists in private games, in public games, e.g., amongst leaders, etc.). In one exemplary embodiment, pre-loaded chat and/or chat with trusted/untrusted lists may be allowed.
      • A countdown timer indicating how long before the game may start
      • Right before the game may be about to start, the lobby window may turn itself into the game window. In an exemplary embodiment, the same client that is used for the game may handle the lobby as well, so software loading problems may happen before the user gets to the lobby, but not likely when the game is starting.
  • According to another exemplary embodiment of the present invention, a list of invitees from each user may be displayed on the lobby page. When any invitee that a customer has invited to the game arrives in that game's lobby, that invitee may be highlighted as ” arrived” on the inviter's lobby list. If an invitee has been invited to the game by more than one customer, the invitee may be shown in the lobby of each inviter, according to another exemplary embodiment of the present invention.
  • According to another exemplary embodiment of the present invention, users that may try to join a game already in progress, may be allowed to access the game as observers only. An observer, according to one exemplary embodiment, may have certain benefits over other viewers. A user may be registered and may be logged in to join or create a game.
  • Game Setup
  • According to another exemplary embodiment of the present invention, when it is time for a game to start, the server may create a game, as long as it meets the minimum (or threshold) number of players requirement. Otherwise, in an exemplary embodiment, the game may be disbanded.
  • According to another exemplary embodiment of the present invention, the game may start by seeding users 1 thru the number of players in the game. The seeding, according to another exemplary embodiment of the present invention, may be based by the users' trivia ranking. A higher ranking may result in a higher seeding. Ties, in an exemplary embodiment, may be broken by a coin-flip (i.e. randomly).
  • According to another exemplary embodiment of the present invention, the number of rounds in the game may be based on the number of players (P) and the room size (S). The number of rounds may be the integer X such that Sx>=P and Sx-1<P. For instance, with 13 players and a room size of 2, the number of rounds may be 4, because 24=16>=13, and 23=<13. See Tables 1 and 2 below.
  • According to another exemplary embodiment of the present invention, the number of rooms in a round may be equal to the number of players remaining divided by the room size. According to another exemplary embodiment of the present invention, if this result may be not an integer, for any round, additional ghost players may be added until it is, when the ghost player option may be turned on. So in the above example, 3 ghost players may be added to get to 16 total players. That guarantees that every round may have an even number of players. Note that number of ghost players to be added may be equal to the difference between a power of the room size and the total number of players. Alternatively, a bye may be provided in another exemplary embodiment of the present invention.
  • According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, for seeded games, users may then be divided into rooms based on their seeding. The seeding may be based on the users' trivia rankings, to be described below. Ghost players may be seeded below all the real players, according to an exemplary embodiment. Thus players with higher seeding may receive easier opponents, the goal being that if the results match the initial seeds, the final game may match up the best S players, where S may be the room size. According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, ghost players may have a variable skill level, to be set when the game may be created. In an exemplary embodiment, ghost players may be worse on average than most real players.
  • Seeded players may be assigned to rooms in a snake-draft fashion, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. In the same example above, the first room may have seeds 1 vs. 16, the second room may be 2 vs. 15, and so forth. If the room size may be 3, and there may be 9 players, room 1 may be seeds 1, 6, 7, room 2 seeds 2, 5, 8 and room 3 seeds 3, 4, and 9. Note that this method may be fair for even powers, but for odd powers may be slightly biased towards the higher seeds.
  • According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, for randomized games, each participant may be assigned seeding based on a random number. Using the randomized seedings, game setup may then work the same as a seeded game, in an exemplary embodiment.
  • Users may play directly against the other users in their same room.
  • In addition to setting up the initial match ups, the game initialization may include the selection of the questions to ask, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. These questions may be selected from the main questions database, perhaps filtering those that may be specific to a particular topic, for subject-based games. The question set and order may be a property of the game based on the game id (and the game topic, if one may be selected). The same question set and order may be repeatable whenever the same game id may be used. However, the actual question set may be random from one game to another, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.
  • According to another exemplary embodiment of the present invention, games that do not use ghost players may work the same way, except that the players matched up against a ghost player may instead get a “bye” into the next round. Those users may automatically win their round without having to answer any questions correctly, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.
  • Round Play
  • Each round may include, e.g., but not limited to, a number of questions. According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, the game engine may have several states, including, e.g., but not limited to:
      • Waiting for the round to start
      • Asking question
      • Waiting for answer
      • Display correct answer
      • Waiting for end of round
  • When the round starts, the server may send a message to the clients with the information about the opponents for that round, according to an exemplary embodiment. A short (10-20 second) delay may take place to let users get ready for the next round, in an exemplary embodiment. This pause can be used to display an ad to the users, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.
  • The tournament contest may then follow the ad, in an exemplary embodiment, with a series of messages, one that may ask a question, one that may provide the right answer and one that has the updated round standings. The client may send to the server the answer as selected by the user, along with information as to how long it took for the question to be answered.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the present invention may include gameplay as depicted below in Table 3.
  • For questions answered correctly, the user may be awarded a number of points based on how quickly it was answered, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. The timer may start at the maximum points for about, e.g., but not limited to, 25% of the time and then start counting down, linearly, to 0, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, the timer may reach 0 at the same time that the time to answer the question expires. Note that it may not start counting down from the maximum right away to give users a fair chance to get a perfect score, hence the 25% initial time delay. The actual amount for this delay may be easily changed, but may not necessarily be a game parameter, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.
  • According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, ghost players may answer questions randomly, and may accrue points when they answer them correctly. The time to answer the question as well the answer itself may be generated randomly, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. Users playing ghost players may still need to answer some questions correctly to beat them and move forward, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. If not, the ghost player may move forward, in an embodiment. In an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, ghost players may be identified as such in the standings area.
  • According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, when the time to answer the question expires, the correct answer may be identified, along with any additional tidbit of information available about the question. The additional information can be used to clarify the answer or to provide addition color to the game, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.
  • According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, updated standings information may be sent to each client after every question. These standings may include all the players in the user's room, plus a top 10 list which may include players from all other rooms, in an exemplary embodiment. Standings for each user's invitees (up to TBD) may also be displayed, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.
  • At the end of a round, the user with the most points in each room may move up and the user may be assigned a room in the next round, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. This room assignment may be predetermined based on the user's original seeding and may not require a new seeding. According to one exemplary embodiment of the present invention, the tournament contest may be an NCAA-style bracket. So the benefit for pulling an early-round upset, in an exemplary embodiment, may be an easier opponent than other more highly-seeded players may have. According to another exemplary embodiment, a playoff system may be used, such as, e.g., but not limited to, an NFL-playoff system.
  • Note that all of this may assume that questions posed in each round may be the same in each room. This may be required, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, in order to run a consolation room. However, if the consolation room is not being used, the questions can be randomized so that each room may be getting a different question each time, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. The random question method (or one or more alternative simplifications thereof) may be necessary to manage fraud as games get larger and prizes are made available to the winners, in some exemplary embodiments.
  • In another exemplary embodiment, the system may include features to prevent software based agents from driving up prize levels by providing for reverse Turing tests to ensure only human contestants are participating. In an exemplary embodiment, fraud by use of software agents to increase participation levels may be identified by using unique contestant identifiers, such as, e.g., but not limited to, a contestant's tax ID number (which is needed for reporting a prize), to ensure only one person is entered per tax ID number.
  • Collected Statistics (Stats)
  • A user's performance in a tournament contest, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, may be tracked, just like sport leagues may track their player statistics. The following statistics may be collected, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention:
      • Tournaments played
      • Tournaments won
      • Rounds played in tournaments won
      • Rounds played
      • Rounds won
      • Opponents played head to head (1 point for every other player in a room you played in)
      • Opponents beat head to head (1 point for every other player in a room you won)
      • Opponents played in tournaments (1 point for every other player in a tournament you played in)
      • Opponents beat in tournaments (1 point for every other player in a tournament you won)
      • Total points (accumulated from answering questions right)
      • Maximum number of points available (if you answered every question right and in the minimum possible amount of time, you would have these points)
      • Questions answered
      • Questions answered correctly
      • Most players beat in a tournament
  • According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, results from consolation rounds may not be collected, nor may they affect future rankings.
  • Rankings
  • According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, users may have trivia rankings. A trivia ranking may be a number, that may default to 0 for new users, according to an exemplary embodiment. This number may increase as the user plays more trivia games, in an exemplary embodiment. The formula for the ranking may be based on a user's stats as collected from previous trivia playing experience, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention:
    ranking=int(total_points*(1+points_avg+rounds_pct+tourney pct)/50)
    where total_points may be the total points accumulated by the user.
    points_avg=total_points/max_points
    rounds pct=rounds_won/rounds_played
    tourney pct=(tourneys_won+tourney_rounds_won−1)/touneys_played
    Consolation Room
  • According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, when a user may be eliminated from a game that has been setup with the consolation room enabled, the user may be moved, at the user's option, into this room. In this room, the losers may be able to play against each other, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, receiving the same set of questions as the main bracket is, so that they can compare their scores.
  • To make things fair, in one exemplary embodiment, when a user joins the consolation room, the user may bring with him his total points accumulated in the main bracket. This way, a user that was eliminated in the 4th round may be not at a disadvantage to one that was eliminated in the 1st round.
  • The standings in the consolation room may show the by-round scores as well as overall game scores for all users in the consolation room, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. The standings may also show the leaders in the current round of the main bracket game, in one exemplary embodiment.
  • As mentioned earlier, in an exemplary embodiment, the results from consolation rounds may not be collected, nor may they affect future rankings.
  • If a user chooses not to join the consolation game, the user may remain in the game as observers (to be described later), according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. The observer may still receive a standings update for the main bracket game and the observer can check out how a player may be doing, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.
  • The number of players in a consolation round may be limited to a practical limit, according to one exemplary embodiment of the present invention. When this limit is exceeded, the lowest scoring players may be kicked off the consolation round, according to one exemplary embodiment. This may only occur at the end of a round, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. Players that may be booted out of the consolation game can remain in the game as observers, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.
  • Observers
  • According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, users may join a game already in progress as observers. The observers may receive standings updates just as those in the game, in an exemplary embodiment. In an exemplary embodiment, the observers may be able to join the consolation room if one may be available and if there may be room for additional players.
  • While in observer mode, users may be able to track what other users may be doing, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. In this mode the users may see how their friends may be answering questions and how they may be doing in their game. To avoid cheating, the users may only see the selections made by another user after the question answering period has ended, although the question itself may appear from the beginning, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.
  • Users do not have to be registered to be observers, although they may not be able to join a consolation game if they are not registered, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.
  • Statistics and Standings
  • User statistics (“stats”) may be available for all to see in an area of the site, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. The presentation of the stats may be similar to current sports sortable stats pages available from CBS Sportsline.com, according to an exemplary embodiment. The concept of a “season” may exist so that users can see their stats accumulate for periods, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. This lets latecomers, in an exemplary embodiment, play on an even playing field with those that have been around longer.
  • According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, a standings page may display the top ranked players, both all-time and by season.
  • According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, daily, weekly, monthly, year-to-date and all-time “leaderboards” may also be available (categories may include any of various appropriate data to be tracked about contestant participation and performance).
  • Records
  • According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, a few records may be maintained to add yet more depth to the product. The records tracked may include, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention:
      • Best X-question round score (for each value of X)
      • Best X-question game score (for each value of X)
      • Largest Tower (the one with the most players)
  • Various other records may be tracked as will be apparent to those skilled in the relevant art.
  • Communication
  • According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, the tournament contest may include client-server communication, which may be 2-way and asynchronous, in an exemplary embodiment. The communication may also be fast, in an exemplary embodiment. Thus, packet size may be kept to the bare minimum and a simple protocol may be used, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.
  • According to one exemplary embodiment of the present invention, the communication between the server and client may be secure. A user may attempt to reverse engineer the client, and may modify it or create a new one that may give the user the ability to cheat. Thus secure communication between the client and server is an important aspect of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, and an interesting challenge since Java and Flash decompilers may exist.
  • According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, the client may be the one that provides the server with the amount of time a user took to answer a question. Thus, it may be very important that the server authenticate the client as being an original, unmodified version of the client software, in an exemplary embodiment. Since the client may be responsible for the answer timing, it may be not 100% required that all clients be perfectly synchronized, in an exemplary embodiment. However, the differences between clients need to be less than the time to answer a question, in one exemplary embodiment.
  • Capacity and Scalability
  • The tournament contest game server, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, may need to be able to handle many games at the same time. Some games may include, e.g., but not limited to, small groups of users, and be created by other users. Other exemplary embodiments of games may include CBS DM sponsored events that may grow to several million users. A tournament contest, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention; may be able to be handled by multiple game servers.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the present invention may include a method which may be used to control, e.g., but not limited to, data transmission to, e.g., facilitate a large scale, online, massive multiplayer game. As a result of this method, in an exemplary embodiment, data transmission packets may be the same size regardless of the number of players. Thus, whether 1024 players or 1 million players or participants in total are playing a game, the system according to an exemplary embodiment may have a predictable data delivery system.
  • According to an exemplary embodiment, the method may proceed as follows:
  • 1. Players may be randomly assigned to virtual rooms when they register.
  • 2. At the closure of the lobby, the players may be merged together with a “best fit” algorithm. This may mean that the algorithm may compact all the rooms to a minimal number with a pre-determined capacity limitation. (In an exemplary embodiment, the predetermined capacity limitation may be 1024 players/room=1K).
  • 3. Each room may then be populated to the pre-determined room capacity with “Ghost” and/or bye players. As a part of step 2 above, there may never be more “Ghost” players than “Real” players.
  • 4. Each room's Players may then be seeded within the room, in an exemplary embodiment. Seedings may be based on a Player Rating system, which may, in an exemplary embodiment, be a calculation that CBS SportsLine may assign based on player performance. The matchups within the room may then be created bracket style, i.e. highest-rated players may play lowest-rated players, in an exemplary embodiment.
  • 4.5 Once players are assigned, in an exemplary embodiment, a broadcast transmission may be sent to the client applications, which may have been previously assigned the virtual rooms in step 1 above, and may be reassigned players in the new organization described in step 4 above.
  • 5. Due to Step 2 above, in an exemplary embodiment, every room may have a “power of 2” (2ˆ×) number players, and there may be always a “power of 2” (2ˆ×) number of rooms. At the end of the round, winners from adjacent rooms may be merged creating a new room in a new round with winners of the previous rounds. Because each room may be composed of a power of two player, in an exemplary embodiment, and these players may be playing head-to-head, exactly half the players of each room may move into the next room. Of course in alternative embodiments which may not be head-to-head, different ratios of players may move on.
  • Note: During this process the players in the consolation round, in an exemplary embodiment, may not change rooms because they may not be involved in matchups.
  • Availability/Reliability
  • According to one exemplary embodiment of the present invention, the system may include availability/reliability features. As contestants become passionate about playing, they also become passionate about losing points/rounds/etc if there are technical problems, and thus uptime/availability/reliability may be crucial to success of a contest, according to an exemplary embodiment.
  • Reporting
  • According to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, the system may include reporting. Also, a user may get a product signup record the first time when the user plays one of these games, but not one record for each game played, according to an exemplary embodiment.
  • Client
  • The tournament contest, according to an exemplary embodiment may include interesting content including, e.g., but not limited to, graphics and sounds, easy to use interface, quick response and proper feedback. An exemplary embodiment of the client, may include the following components:
      • Main screen, where the questions and answers may be displayed, along with the timer, the selected answer and the points awarded. This area may also be used to display video ads if necessary. Users in observer mode can see the answers selected by specific users here.
      • Standings area, where the current round standings may be displayed and updated. This area may be visible at all times and may update after every question.
      • Overall standings, where the top X scores from the game may be displayed. This area can update less frequently than the other standings area, as collecting the data from all players may take more time.
      • Consolation Round standings, for games with this feature. This area can be switched between consolation and overall standings.
      • Chat area where users can chat with their opponents in their own room. Smaller and private games may have a chat room for all users in the game.
        Some additional client details:
      • We must specify “Minimum SUGGESTED client performance” required to participate in a game. This may be a marketing and customer service requirement.
      • The timer countdown may go down in regular intervals, at least once every three seconds. More frequent updates would be nice as long as it does not adversely affect the performance of the client machine. The user may not be penalized for having a slower processor that does not recognize the inputs fast enough because it's updating the timer.
      • The client may be responsible for sending the server the amount of time it took the user to answer the question. See the note above about security in this transmission.
      • The client may use as much resolution as possible to specify the time it took the user to answer the question. This time may be measured from the point where the question was displayed to the user to when the user hit the answer button. The maximum available time resolution in the client may be used. This may be at least tenths of a second, although most machines now may provide accurate information to a millisecond resolution.
      • If a “last answer” game, the user may be able to change his answer in the middle of the question. But if a change may be made, the points awarded may be based on the last change made by the user. The user may not lose points however if he/she clicks on the answer button a second time with the same answer as the one currently selected. (If however the user changes his answer from 2 to 4 and back to 2, he may receive points based on the last time he selected the 2 answer).
      • For “1st answer only” games, no answer changes may be allowed after the 1st answer may be provided. If the answer may be wrong, the user gets no points.
      • The room standings area may display the players in the room, sorted by current round score, and listed along with their answer for the last question, the points awarded by the last question, and total points for the tournament. Correct answers may be listed in one color while wrong ones in another.
      • Players may be identified by a user-modifiable handle, which may default to their first name and last name initial (e.g. ‘Tony F’). It may not display user id's. A separate customization page may allow users to change their handle.
      • The overall standings area may display the top players ranked by total points in the tournament. For each player, the player handle, total points, current round, points for current round may be listed. The number of players listed may be at least 10 and as many as can fit on the screen.
      • The consolation room standings may display the top players in the consolation room ranked by total points. For each player, the player handle, total points, rounds lasted in the main bracket game, and points for the current round may be listed. The number of players listed may be at least 10, and as many as can fit on the screen.
      • Video ads may be displayed between rounds provided that we can insure that the video ad may stop playing when the first question may be sent to the client (ideally we would give some more thought to the advertising/sponsorship requirements).
      • Users may be able to turn off the chat area to stop getting those messages if they find them distracting.
    Exemplary Embodiment of Computer Environment
  • FIG. 1 depicts an exemplary computer system that may be used in implementing an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. Specifically, FIG. 1 depicts an exemplary embodiment of a computer system 100 that may be used in computing devices such as, e.g., but not limited to, client or server, etc. according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 1 depicts an exemplary embodiment of a computer system that may be used as client device, or a server device, etc. The present invention (or any part(s) or function(s) thereof) may be implemented using hardware, software, firmware, or a combination thereof and may be implemented in one or more computer systems or other processing systems. In fact, in one exemplary embodiment, the invention may be directed toward one or more computer systems capable of carrying out the functionality described herein. An example of a computer system 100 is shown in FIG. 1, depicting an exemplary embodiment of a block diagram of an exemplary computer system useful for implementing the present invention. Specifically, FIG. 1 illustrates an example computer 100, which in an exemplary embodiment may be, e.g., (but not limited to) a personal computer (PC) system running an operating system such as, e.g., (but not limited to) MICROSOFT® WINDOWS® NT/98/2000/XP/CE/ME/etc. available from MICROSOFT® Corporation of Redmond, Wash., U.S.A. However, the invention may not be limited to these platforms. Instead, the invention may be implemented on any appropriate computer system running any appropriate operating system. In one exemplary embodiment, the present invention may be implemented on a computer system operating as discussed herein. An exemplary computer system, computer 100 is shown in FIG. 1. Other components of the invention, such as, e.g., (but not limited to) a computing device, a communications device, mobile phone, a telephony device, a telephone, a personal digital assistant (PDA), a personal computer (PC), a handheld PC, an interactive television (iTV), a digital video recorder (DVD), client workstations, thin clients, thick clients, proxy servers, network communication servers, remote access devices, client computers, server computers, routers, web servers, data, media, audio, video, telephony or streaming technology servers, etc., may also be implemented using a computer such as that shown in FIG. 1. Services may be provided on demand using, e.g., but not limited to, an interactive television (iTV), a video on demand system (VOD), and via a digital video recorder (DVR), or other on demand viewing system.
  • The computer system 100 may include one or more processors, such as, e.g., but not limited to, processor(s) 104. The processor(s) 104 may be connected to a communication infrastructure (e.g., but not limited to, a communications bus, cross-over bar, or network, etc.). Various exemplary software embodiments may be described in terms of this exemplary computer system. After reading this description, it will become apparent to a person skilled in the relevant art(s) how to implement the invention using other computer systems and/or architectures.
  • Computer system 100 may include a display interface 102 that may forward, e.g., but not limited to, graphics, text, and other data, etc., from the communication infrastructure (or from a frame buffer, etc., not shown) for display on the display unit 120.
  • The computer system 100 may also include, e.g., but may not be limited to, a main memory 106, random access memory (RAM), and a secondary memory 108, etc. The secondary memory 108 may include, for example, (but not limited to) a hard disk drive 110 and/or a removable storage drive 114, representing a floppy diskette drive, a magnetic tape drive, an optical disk drive, a compact disk drive CD-ROM, etc. The removable storage drive 114 may, e.g., but not limited to, read from and/or write to a removable storage unit in a well known manner. Removable storage unit, also called a program storage device or a computer program product, may represent, e.g., but not limited to, a floppy disk, magnetic tape, optical disk, compact disk, etc. which may be read from and written to by removable storage drive 114. As will be appreciated, the removable storage unit may include a computer usable storage medium having stored therein computer software and/or data.
  • In alternative exemplary embodiments, secondary memory 108 may include other similar devices for allowing computer programs or other instructions to be loaded into computer system 100. Such devices may include, for example, a removable storage unit and an interface 122. Examples of such may include a program cartridge and cartridge interface (such as, e.g., but not limited to, those found in video game devices), a removable memory chip (such as, e.g., but not limited to, an erasable programmable read only memory (EPROM), or programmable read only memory (PROM) and associated socket, and other removable storage units and interfaces 122, which may allow software and data to be transferred from the removable storage unit to computer system 100.
  • Computer 100 may also include an input device such as, e.g., (but not limited to) a mouse or other pointing device such as a digitizer, and a keyboard or other data entry device (none of which are labeled).
  • Computer 100 may also include output devices, such as, e.g., (but not limited to) display 130, and display interface 102. Computer 100 may include input/output (I/O) devices such as, e.g., (but not limited to) communications interface 124, cable and communications path, etc. These devices may include, e.g., but not limited to, a network interface card, and modems (neither are labeled). Communications interface 124 may allow software and data to be transferred between computer system 100 and external devices.
  • In this document, the terms “computer program medium” and “computer readable medium” may be used to generally refer to media such as, e.g., but not limited to removable storage drive 114, a hard disk installed in hard disk drive 112, and signals, etc. These computer program products may provide software to computer system 100. The invention may be directed to such computer program products.
  • References to “one embodiment,” “an embodiment,” “example embodiment,” “various embodiments,” etc., may indicate that the embodiment(s) of the invention so described may include a particular feature, structure, or characteristic, but not every embodiment necessarily includes the particular feature, structure, or characteristic. Further, repeated use of the phrase “in one embodiment,” or “in an exemplary embodiment,” do not necessarily refer to the same embodiment, although they may.
  • In the following description and claims, the terms “coupled” and “connected,” along with their derivatives, may be used. It should be understood that these terms are not intended as synonyms for each other. Rather, in particular embodiments, “connected” may be used to indicate that two or more elements are in direct physical or electrical contact with each other. “Coupled” may mean that two or more elements are in direct physical or electrical contact. However, “coupled” may also mean that two or more elements are not in direct contact with each other, but yet still co-operate or interact with each other.
  • An algorithm is here, and generally, considered to be a self-consistent sequence of acts or operations leading to a desired result. These include physical manipulations of physical quantities. Usually, though not necessarily, these quantities take the form of electrical or magnetic signals capable of being stored, transferred, combined, compared, and otherwise manipulated. It has proven convenient at times, principally for reasons of common usage, to refer to these signals as bits, values, elements, symbols, characters, terms, numbers or the like. It should be understood, however, that all of these and similar terms are to be associated with the appropriate physical quantities and are merely convenient labels applied to these quantities.
  • Unless specifically stated otherwise, as apparent from the following discussions, it is appreciated that throughout the specification discussions utilizing terms such as “processing,” “computing,” “calculating,” “determining,” or the like, refer to the action and/or processes of a computer or computing system, or similar electronic computing device, that manipulate and/or transform data represented as physical, such as electronic, quantities within the computing system's registers and/or memories into other data similarly represented as physical quantities within the computing system's memories, registers or other such information storage, transmission or display devices.
  • In a similar manner, the term “processor” may refer to any device or portion of a device that processes electronic data from registers and/or memory to transform that electronic data into other electronic data that may be stored in registers and/or memory. A “computing platform” may comprise one or more processors.
  • Embodiments of the present invention may include apparatuses for performing the operations herein. An apparatus may be specially constructed for the desired purposes, or it may comprise a general purpose device selectively activated or reconfigured by a program stored in the device.
  • In yet another exemplary embodiment, the invention may be implemented using a combination of any of, e.g., but not limited to, hardware, firmware and software, etc.
  • Interactive Television Exemplary Embodiment
  • FIG. 2 depicts an exemplary embodiment of the invention where the contestant may be accessing the tournament content via an interactive television (ITV) environment 200. The contestant's exemplary iTV environment is described below, according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. Although described below in a particular environment, the contestants device may be implemented in a variety of other environments.
  • ITV environment 200 in an exemplary embodiment may include a content provider network operation center (NOC) 201, a plurality of ITV clients 216 a, 216 b, and a content distributor NOC 208. The content provider NOC 208, ITV clients 216 a-b, and content distributor NOC may be coupled to one another by content distributor network facilities 215. The ITV environment 200 of FIG. 2 also illustrates, in an exemplary embodiment, a distribution channel 217 that may be used to broadcast content to the ITV clients 216 a, 216 b from the content providers over the content distribution network 115, and a backchannel 218 that may be used to receive interactive responses from the ITV clients 216 a, 216 b at, e.g., the content provider. The back channel 218 may be in an inband, or out of band channel. The back channel 218 may be separate from the distribution channel 216. The back channel 218 may use circuit connections, or packet switched communication.
  • Content provider NOC 201 may include, e.g., a software module 202 and a middleware module 203 running on top of a hardware module 204. The hardware module 204 may include, e.g., a processor and associated memory. The content provider NOC 201 may also include a master control system 205 that may be used to assemble portions of programming service content for distribution. The portions of programming service content may be accessed using various known methods from a content storage facility 207, onto which the content may have been previously stored. The content provider NOC 201 may also include a distribution uplink 106 that may be used to upload content to the content distributor for distribution to ITV clients 216 a, 216 b. Of course, the content provider in another exemplary embodiment, may communicate directly with ITV clients 216 a, 216 b. For example, the clients 216 a, 216 b may communicate via a communications link directly to the content provider via a protocol such as, e.g., but not limited to, simple mail transport protocol (SMTP), hyper text markup protocol (HTTP), etc.
  • Content distributor NOC 208 can include a software module 209, a middleware module 210, and an access control system 211 a including, e.g., a conditional access subsystem 211 b, running on a hardware module 212. A distribution downlink 213 can be used, in an exemplary embodiment, to download content from the content providers to the content distributor NOC 208, for temporary storage in content storage facility 214, prior to distribution directly to, or via the content distributor network 215, to ITV clients 216 a, 216 b for viewing by viewers.
  • As shown in FIG. 3, ITV client 216 a may include, in an exemplary embodiment, a television 301, a receiver 302, and an interactive remote device 307 such as a remote control. Receiver 302 can include, in an exemplary embodiment, ITV platform 303 that can include, e.g., a software module 304, a middleware module 305, an access control module 306 a including, e.g., a conditional access subsystem 306 b (such as a smart card), and hardware module 308. The hardware module 308 may include a processor and associated memory. The various modules may be combined into a set-top box. The set-top box may be configured to record programming services. As shown in FIG. 3, receiver 302 can be configured to receive content from content provider NOC 201 via, e.g., a content distributor network 215 and content distributor NOC 208, or directly via interface equipment, for example. The ITV platform 303 of FIG. 3 can be thought of as an example environment that could be used for a content distributor that uses a cable television (CATV) network. Content may be distributed to ITV 216 a, 216 b from the content provider over content distributor facilities as shown in line 217. Dotted line 218 represents an exemplary back channel 218 for sending interactive information to the content provider. The back channel is typically provided via a phone modem or via access to broadband.
  • Alternatively, as is shown in environment 400 in FIG. 4, receiver 302 can be configured to receive content from content provider NOC 201 via content distributor network 215 and content distributor NOC 208 via antenna 310, such as a satellite dish or the like.
  • The interactive television system described herein is exemplary only. The invention can also be implemented in many other types of interactive systems. For example, the content provider may communicate directly with the ITV clients 216 a. Programming services, video and interactive television content may be provided directly to the viewer. Also, a back channel may be provided directly from the ITV client 216 a to the content provider, without passing through a content distributor. A back channel is not necessary in all embodiments of the invention.
  • As will be understood by a person having ordinary skill in the art, content provider NOC 201 can distribute content via distribution uplink 206 to content distributor NOC 208. Content distributor NOC 208 can receive the content from content provider NOC 201 via distribution downlink 213. Content distributor NOC 208 can then distribute content to ITV clients 216 a, 216 b through content distributor network facilities 115. Examples of content distributors include, e.g., COMCAST CORPORATION of Philadelphia, Pa., USA, DIRECTV of El Segundo, Calif. USA, ECHOSTAR COMMUNICATIONS CORPORATION of Englewood, Colo., USA, and TIME WARNER CABLE of Stamford, Conn. USA.
  • The content provided to the ITV clients 216A may include a number of channels, such as broadcast network channels, cable channels, subscription channels, etc. These types of channels may be referred to as linear channels. Other types of programming services may also be provided, such as, e.g., on demand services. Exemplary forms of on demand services include, e.g., but are not limited to, a video on demand (VOD) service, a subscription VOD (SVOD) service, etc. Other on demand services may include any of various digital video recorder (DVR) offerings by which a viewer can record and view digital video content. An exemplary programming service program may include, e.g., a movie, or a series, that may be made available by a programming service such as, e.g., CBS, broadcasting programming services, or pay programming services such as, e.g., but not limited to, SHOWTIME. Programs may also include, e.g., high definition (HD) programs, VOD and SVOD programs, and programs stored on DVRs. Viewers that have advanced set top boxes may be able to access robust digital video recording and playback capabilities.
  • As will be apparent to those skilled in the art, access by users such as, e.g., but not limited to, participants, and contestants, may occur via devices, devices such as, e.g., but not limited to, communications devices, computing devices, telephony, mobile phone, PDA, handheld, laptop, notebook, iTV, location based systems, GPS, and content may be distributed over various network platform types including, e.g., but not limited to, voice, data, satellite, radio, digital broadband, ultra wideband (UWB), cable television (CATV), wired communications networks, wireless communications networks, direct broadcast satellite television, multichannel multipoint distribution service (MMDS), wireless fidelity (WI-FI), IEEE 802.11 WLAN networks, wireless wide area networks, IEEE 802.16 WWAN networks, (WI-MAX), broadband over power line (BOPL), mobile communications voice and/or data communications networks, cellular networks, analog and/or digital cellular networks, mobile networks, packet switched networks, voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) networks, 2G, 3G, 4G, nG networks, using various access methods including, e.g., but not limited to, FDMA, CDMA, GSM, GPRS, etc. networks and protocols.
  • FIG. 5 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a screenshot 500 from within an exemplary Trivia Tower game. The graphical user interface shows the trivia question 501 posed to the participants. The screenshot 500 also shows a buddy list 502 that may be displayed in some embodiments.
  • FIG. 6 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a screenshot 600 from within an exemplary Trivia Tower game. The screenshot 600 shows an exemplary result 601 to the question. In this exemplary embodiment, one of the contestants has been awarded 90 points for correctly answering the question.
  • FIG. 7 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a screenshot 700 from within an exemplary Trivia Tower game that may show the standings 701 for the participants in the contest. In some embodiments, only the top scoring contestants are depicted in the standings list 701.
  • FIG. 8 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a screenshot 800 from within an exemplary Trivia Tower game that may contain an advertisement 801.
  • FIG. 9 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a screenshot 900 from within an exemplary Trivia Tower game that may contain a timer or countdown 901 and a listing of the number of players participating 902.
  • FIG. 10 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a screenshot 1000 from within an exemplary Trivia Tower game that may contain an introduction to how the game is played 1001, one or more advertisements 1002, a log in identification screen 1003, a schedule of games 1004, and/or a standings list 1005.
  • FIG. 11 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a screenshot 1100 from within an exemplary Trivia Tower game that may contain a log in area 1101. In some embodiments, a participant must login before participating in the contest and/or game.
  • FIG. 12 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a screenshot 1200 from within an exemplary Trivia Tower game that may contain a button 1201 within the graphical user interface that controls entrance into the game or contest.
  • FIG. 13 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a screenshot 1300 from within an exemplary Trivia Tower game that may contain a log in area 1301. In some embodiments, a participant must login before participating in the contest and/or game.
  • FIG. 14 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a screenshot 1400 from within an exemplary Trivia Tower game that may contain a standings list 1401.
  • While various embodiments of the present invention have been described above, it should be understood that they have been presented by way of example only, and not limitation. Thus, the breadth and scope of the present invention should not be limited by any of the above-described exemplary embodiments, but should instead be defined only in accordance with the following claims and their equivalents.
    TABLE 1
    Tiered Levels - Exemplary Prizes at Participant Levels
    Rounds No. of Participants Prize (or equivalent)
    1 2
    2 4
    3 8
    4 16
    5 32
    6 64
    7 128
    8 256
    9 512
    10 1,024 $25 Gift Certificate for MVP.com
    11 2,048 $25 Gift Certificate for MVP.com
    12 4,096 $50 Gift Certificate for MVP.com
    13 8,192 $50 Gift Certificate for Circuit City
    14 16,384 $100 Gift Certificate for Circuit City
    15 32,768 Toshiba 32 inch Flat screen TV
    16 65,536 Home Theater system worth $2,500
    17 131,072 $5,000 cash
    18 262,144 $10,000 cash
    19 524,288 $20,000 cash
    20 1,048,576 Brand new Toyota Prius
  • TABLE 2
    Tiered Levels - Exemplary Numbers of Players shown as Exemplary Rounds by Exemplary
    Contest Groupings
    Rounds Contestants 2 Contestants 3 Contestants 4 Contestants 5 Contestants 10
    1 2 3 4 5 10
    2 4 9 16 25 100
    3 8 27 64 125 1,000
    4 16 81 256 625 10,000
    5 32 243 1,024 3,125 100,000
    6 64 729 4,096 15,625 1,000,000
    7 128 2,187 16,384 78,125 10,000,000
    8 256 6,561 65,536 390,625 100,000,000
    9 512 19,683 262,144 1,953,125 1,000,000,000
    10 1,024 59,049 1,048,576 9,765,625 10,000,000,000
    11 2,048 177,147 4,194,304 48,828,125 100,000,000,000
    12 4,096 531,441 16,777,216 244,140,625 1,000,000,000,000
    13 8,192 1,594,323 67,108,864 1,220,703,125 10,000,000,000,000
    14 16,384 4,782,969 268,435,456 6,103,515,625 100,000,000,000,000
    15 32,768 14,348,907 1,073,741,824 30,517,578,125 1,000,000,000,000,000
    16 65,536 43,046,721 4,294,967,296 152,587,890,625 10,000,000,000,000,000
    17 131,072 129,140,163 17,179,869,184 762,939,453,125 100,000,000,000,000,000
    18 262,144 387,420,489 68,719,476,736 3,814,697,265,625 1,000,000,000,000,000,000
    19 524,288 1,162,261,467 274,877,906,944 19,073,486,328,125 10,000,000,000,000,000,000
    20 1,048,576
    21 2,097,152
    22 4,194,304
    23 8,388,608
  • TABLE 3
    Exemplary Gameplay
    Start End Duration Front end Back end
    minus 6 hours ROS ads are used to promote
    upcoming tower
    minus 1 hour 60 mins Link appears on Splash page
    saying that the lobby is open.
    Users can sign in. Home page ads
    promote that lobby has opened
    0 60 mins Countdown on Splash page and
    lobby to lockdown.
    0 Tower Locks and no new users
    are allowed in
    0 30 secs 30 secs Message is displayed showing Aggregation of users happens.
    what the users are playing for and API is called to get questions from
    how many rounds they will have to database
    win to get there
    30 secs 55 secs 25 secs The tale of the tape is displayed to
    the user
    55 secs 1 min 5 secs Message is displayed advising the
    user to get ready for Q1.
    Round 1 is played - See Below Video ad for next round is being
    downloaded
    x mins Final result is shown for the Round
    0 10 secs 10 secs Different messages are shown to
    the winner and loser in
    Tournament play
    10 secs 40 secs 30 secs Video is played
    40 secs 45 secs 5 secs Get ready for Round 2
    45 secs 70 secs 25 secs Tale of the tape is shown for
    Tournament play. Consolation
    players remain with Get ready
    70 secs 75 secs 5 secs Message is displayed advising the
    user to get ready for Q1.
    75 secs Next round begins
    X Question 1 is displayed
    2 secs Countdown clock begins
    User selects answer
    12 secs Countdown clock ends
    12 secs 17 secs 5 secs Your answer is displayed and
    . . .
    17 secs 30 secs The correct answer is displayed
    along with tidbit
    22 secs 30 secs Opponents answer is displayed
    30 secs 35 secs 5 secs Standings page is shown
    35 secs 40 secs 5 secs Get ready for question 2
    40 secs Next question starts

Claims (60)

  1. 1. A method comprising:
    a) providing a game;
    b) allowing at least one participant in said game to invite at least one additional participant to said game; and
    c) providing an incentive to the winner of said game, wherein a value of said incentive increases dependent upon a total number of the participants in said game.
  2. 2. The method of claim 1, further comprising:
    d) providing an indication of growth of said value of said incentive as said total number of the participants increases.
  3. 3. The method of claim 2, wherein said indication comprises at least one of:
    a graphical indication;
    an image;
    a video image;
    an animated image;
    a graphical indication;
    a multi-dimensional indication;
    a two-dimensional indication;
    a three-dimensional indication;
    a pyramid;
    a cone;
    a cylindrical;
    a tower;
    a polygon;
    a triangle; and/or
    a rectangle.
  4. 4. The method of claim 1, wherein said game comprises at least one of:
    an interactive game;
    a tournament,
    a skill game,
    a tournament with prizing,
    a tournament contest,
    a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game; and/or
    a contest.
  5. 5. The method of claim 1, wherein said interactive tournament contest comprises at least one of: head-to-head, round robin, three-way, four-way, five-way, six-way, seven-way, eight-way, nine-way, ten-way and/or multiple-way pairings.
  6. 6. The method of claim 1, wherein said game comprises a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game.
  7. 7. The method of claim 1, wherein said incentive comprises at least one of:
    a monetary prize;
    a prize;
    an award;
    a coupon;
    a gift;
    a trip;
    a discount;
    a ticket;
    an event;
    a sporting event;
    an entertainment event;
    access to content;
    audio content;
    video content;
    music;
    movies;
    programming;
    a phone;
    a car;
    a vehicle; and/or
    an automobile.
  8. 8. The method of claim 1, further comprising at least one of:
    d) tracking performance in said game of invited participants of a given participant; and/or
    e) providing said performance of the invited participants to the given participant.
  9. 9. The method of claim 1, wherein said (b) comprises at least one of:
    allowing the at least one participant to invite a plurality of additional participants at one time;
    allowing the at least one participant to maintain a buddy list of additional participants; and/or
    allowing the at least one participant to track performance of the buddy list.
  10. 10. The method of claim 1, wherein said (a) comprises at least one of:
    providing a countdown to start clock to the participants; and/or
    providing a separately running version of a countdown clock.
  11. 11. The method of claim 1, wherein said (a) comprises:
    providing an indication of the approaching time of at least one of lockdown, closure and/or commencement of said game.
  12. 12. The method of claim 1, wherein said (a) comprises at least one of:
    providing an audio indication when an opponent of the participant has answered a given question; and/or
    providing a visual indication when the opponent of the participant opponent has answered the given question.
  13. 13. The method of claim 1 1, wherein said commencement indication comprises at least one of:
    an audio indication,
    a video indication,
    a graphical indication,
    an image indication,
    a musical indication, and/or
    a crescendo musical indication.
  14. 14. The method of claim 1, wherein said tournament contest comprises at least one of:
    a plurality of questions;
    a plurality of rounds;
    a plurality of rounds comprising a plurality of questions;
    a timed question;
    a timed round;
    a plurality of timed rounds comprising a plurality of timed questions;
    a round of at least one of:
    at least one question,
    2 questions,
    3 questions,
    4 questions,
    5 questions,
    6 questions,
    7 questions,
    8 questions,
    9 questions,
    10 questions, and/or
    multiple questions;
    a room;
    a segment;
    a fill in the blank question;
    a multiple choice question; and/or
    a true and/or false question.
  15. 15. The method of claim 1, wherein points in said game are earned by the at least one participant by at least one of:
    answering a question,
    answering a question faster than another,
    incorrectly answering a question,
    incorrectly answering a question and receiving negative of said points,
    correctly answering a question,
    correctly answering a question prior to completion of a timer,
    correctly answering a question prior to another of the at least one participants, and/or
    correctly answering a question faster than another of the at least one participants.
  16. 16. The method of claim 1, wherein said tournament contest comprises at least one of:
    providing a head-to-head game;
    providing a multi-way game;
    providing a head-to-head tournament;
    providing a head-to-head bracketed pairing;
    providing an online tournament;
    providing a networked game;
    providing a tournament;
    providing a contest;
    providing a round-robin game;
    providing a massively multiplayer online game;
    providing a web-based tournament;
    providing an interactive television-based tournament;
    providing a single elimination tournament;
    providing at least a double elimination tournament;
    providing a consolation round;
    providing a consolation round wherein winning is only dependent on total points earned in a tournament;
    a multi-platform game;
    a mobile game; and/or
    providing a consolation round with multiple participants in a one-to-many contest.
  17. 17. The method of claim 1, wherein said (b) comprises at least one of:
    providing the at least one participant an indication of points earned in at least one of a round, and/or said tournament;
    providing an indication of points earned by a competitor; and/or
    providing the at least one game an indication of points earned by the at least one additional participant invited by the at least one participant.
  18. 18. The method of claim 1, wherein said (b) comprises at least one of:
    providing a buddy list to the at least one participant;
    allowing the creation of an address book from which to invite other participants;
    allowing configuring of an avatar;
    allowing a tale of the tape;
    allowing a side-by-side comparison of at least two participants; and/or
    providing an avatar to the at least one participant.
  19. 19. The method of claim 1, further comprising at least one of:
    providing statistics about performance of the at least one participant;
    providing results of said game;
    providing results of a tournament contest;
    providing at least one top performance of the at least one participants;
    providing an electronic notification of results of a tournament contest;
    providing at least one of an email, an instant message, a short message system (SMS) message, a multimedia messaging service (MMS) and/or a wireless notification of results of a tournament contest;
    providing a list of the performance of the top ten of the at least one participants; and/or
    providing performance results to the at least one participant from at least one of said tournament and/or a previous tournament.
  20. 20. The method of claim 1, further comprising at least one of:
    providing an advertisement (ad) during at least one of: before, between, and/or during one or more rounds of said tournament contest;
    providing a banner ad;
    providing a video ad;
    providing an audio ad;
    providing an animated ad;
    providing content;
    providing audio content; and/or
    providing video content.
  21. 21. The method of claim 1, further comprising:
    providing a schedule of at least one of a current game, a past game, a future game, a current tournament, a past tournament and/or a future tournament.
  22. 22. The method of claim 1, further comprising:
    providing, in the event of an odd number of participants, at least one of:
    a bye,
    a token participant,
    a ghost participant,
    a computer-generated participant,
    a bench warmer participant,
    a sacrificial lamb participant, and/or
    a software agent participant.
  23. 23. The method of claim 1, further comprising:
    enabling a third party comprising at least one of a business, an individual, a consumer, a charity, and/or an entity, to conduct said tournament contest comprising at least one of:
    receiving a selection of a skin option;
    enabling a mod;
    receiving a third party sponsored prize;
    receiving a fee from the third party;
    receiving avatar configurability information;
    receiving options for creation of a new game;
    receiving a setup for a game;
    receiving a request for a type of game; and/or
    sharing revenue sharing with the third party.
  24. 24. The method of claim 1, further comprising:
    enabling collaboration between two or more participants comprising providing at least one of:
    a billboard;
    a short message system (SMS);
    a mobile message;
    an invitation to a friend;
    an email to a friend;
    a message;
    a notification;
    an alert;
    an internet message;
    a BLOG;
    a message board;
    an Internet chat session;
    an instant message;
    a chat room;
    an email; and/or
    a voice-over Internet Protocol (VoIP) session.
  25. 25. The method of claim 1, further comprising:
    an application enabling provision of said game, said application providing at least one of:
    a message;
    a program on a computer readable medium,
    a downloadable program,
    an applet,
    a web-enabled application,
    a mobile application,
    BREW application;
    a networked application;
    a massively multimedia (MMO) and/or
    a JAVA application.
  26. 26. The method of claim 1, wherein said method is performed on at least one of:
    a browser-based system;
    a standalone workstation-based system;
    a client-server based system;
    a server-based system; and/or
    an application service provider (ASP)-based system.
  27. 27. The method of claim 1, wherein the method is used for attracting users including at least one of:
    attracting non-registered new subscribers;
    attracting traffic from existing subscribers;
    attracting affinity participation;
    attracting activity;
    attracting visitors to a website;
    attracting demand for content;
    attracting page hits;
    attracting page use;
    attracting sponsorship;
    attracting advertising;
    driving brand recognition; and/or
    attracting live people.
  28. 28. The method of claim 26, wherein the users being attracted are being attracted to at least one of:
    an advertisement (AD)
    a website;
    a broadcast;
    a program;
    content;
    a viewing of content; and/or
    playback of content.
  29. 29. The method of claim 1, wherein said c) comprises at least one of:
    providing a fact-related game;
    providing an entertainment related game;
    providing a content related game;
    providing a movie content related game;
    providing a music content related game;
    providing a television content related game;
    providing a sports related game;
    providing a current events related game;
    providing a news related game;
    providing a trivia game;
    providing a sports trivia game;
    providing an entertainment trivia game;
    providing a movie trivia game;
    providing a television trivia game;
    providing a television program trivia game;
    providing games;
    providing incentives;
    providing casual games;
    providing history games;
    providing educational games;
    providing entertainment games;
    providing skill games;
    providing card games;
    providing board games;
    providing arcade games;
    providing games with incentives;
    providing mobile games; and/or
    providing a broadcast trivia game.
  30. 30. The method of claim 1, further comprising:
    requiring the participants to perform at least one of:
    registering as a participant;
    registering at least one of an email, a username, a password, a first name, last name, and/or personally identifiable information;
    performing a reverse Turing test to indicate a live participant;
    entering a unique indicator of the at least one participant;
    entering a social security number of the at least one participant; and/or
    entering an email address of the at least one participant.
  31. 31. The method of claim 1, wherein said c) comprises:
    increasing said value of said prize after at least one of:
    said total number reaches at least one threshold level of participation,
    said total number exceeds at least one threshold level of participation,
    said total number falls within a range of participation, said total number reaches a level of participation, and/or
    said total number reaches a tier of participation.
  32. 32. The method of claim 1, wherein said c) comprises providing a tournament to users using at least one of:
    a device;
    a watch;
    a gaming device;
    a console;
    an XBOX 360;
    a PLAYSTATION (PS/2);
    a PLAYSTATION PORTABLE (PSP);
    a kiosk;
    a mobile device;
    a telephony device;
    a browser enabled device;
    a web browser-enabled device;
    a web device;
    a computing device;
    a communications device;
    a telephony device;
    an interactive television (iTV) device;
    a wireless device;
    a personal digital assistant (PDA) device;
    a location-based device; and/or
    a geographic positioning system (GPS) location-based device.
  33. 33. The method of claim 1, wherein said invite comprises at least one of:
    a billboard;
    a short message system (SMS);
    a mobile message;
    an invitation to a friend;
    an email to a friend;
    a message;
    a notification;
    an alert;
    an internet message;
    a BLOG;
    a message board;
    an Internet chat session;
    an instant message;
    a chat room;
    an email; and/or
    a voice-over Internet Protocol (VoIP) session
  34. 34. A system comprising:
    an game, adapted to allow at least one participant to invite at least one additional participant to participate in said game, and adapted to provide an incentive to the winner of said game, wherein a value of said incentive increases dependent upon a total number of the participants participating in said game.
  35. 35. A system comprising:
    means for providing a game;
    means for allowing at least one participant participating in said game to invite at least one additional participant to participate in said game; and
    means for providing an incentive to the winner of said game, wherein a value of said incentive increases dependent upon a total number of the participants participating in said game.
  36. 36. A computer-readable medium embodying logic which when executed on a computer performs a method comprising:
    providing game;
    allowing at least one participant participating in said game to invite at least one additional participant to participate in said game; and
    providing an incentive to the winner of said game, wherein a value of said incentive increases dependent upon a total number of the participants participating in said game.
  37. 37. A method of providing a scaleable massively multiplayer online (MMO) game, comprising:
    a) upon determining a total number of participants for a game, merging participants into a minimal number of segments having up to a predetermined capacity of participants per segment; and
    b) populating any unfilled of said minimal number of segments with at least one of a ghost and/or a bye, to completely fill each of said minimal number of segments to said predetermined capacity.
  38. 38. The method of claim 36, further comprising at least one of:
    c) randomly assigning participants to initial segments;
    d) randomly assigning participants to initial segments prior to determining said total number of participants for said game; and/or
    e) reassigning said participants to a different of said segments based on any seeding of said participants.
  39. 39. The method of claim 36, further comprising:
    c) seeding the participants within each of said segments.
  40. 40. The method of claim 38, further comprising:
    d) reassigning the participants to other of said segments, based on said seeding.
  41. 41. The method of claim 36, wherein said a) comprises:
    determining a minimal number of segments needed to get as close as possible to a predetermined capacity limitation into which to divide said total number of participants to reach less than or equal to a pre-determined segment capacity limit.
  42. 42. The method of claim 36, wherein said determining comprises determining a number x of segments into which to place the participants, which provides a value Nx, wherein said value NX is a nearest value greater than or equal to said total number of participants.
  43. 43. The method of 41, wherein x is equal to a number of rounds to be played in the game.
  44. 44. The method of claim 41, wherein said N is equal to at least one of:
    2 for a head-to-head competition;
    3 for a three-way competition;
    4 for a four-way competition;
    4 for a bridge-like competition;
    5 for a 5-way competition game;
    5 for a poker competition game;
    6 for a 6-way competition game;
    7 for a 7-way competition game;
    8 for an 8-way competition game;
    9 for a 9-way competition game; and/or
    10 for a 10-way competition game.
  45. 45. The method of claim 36, wherein a given segment to which a participant is assigned is transparent to the participant.
  46. 46. The method of claim 36, wherein said merging comprises merging participants together with a best fit algorithm.
  47. 47. The method of claim 36, wherein there are not more Ghost and/or bye participants than real participants.
  48. 48. The method of claim 36, further comprising seeding and wherein said seeding comprises: seeding based on a rating level of the participants, wherein said rating level of the participants is assigned based on participant performance; seeding in bracket style, wherein said bracket style comprises having highest-rated participants play with lowest-rated participants.
  49. 49. The method of claim 36, further comprising:
    d) at the end of a round, creating a new segment in a new round; and
    e) merging winners from previous adjacent segments into said new segment.
  50. 50. The method of claim 36, wherein for a game having each segment populated with a Nx participants, only 1 of every group of the Nx participants move into the next segment.
  51. 51. The method of claim 36, wherein players in the consolation round are not reassigned from their segments because they are not involved in matchups.
  52. 52. The method according to claim 36 wherein said predetermined capacity comprises at least one of:
    1024 participants per segment; and/or
    a quantity Nx, wherein N is equal to a number participants per segment, and wherein x comprises a number of rounds of said game.
  53. 53. The method of claim 36, wherein said c) comprises:
    determining a quantity Nx segments, wherein N is equal to a number participants per segment, and wherein x comprises a number of rounds of said game.
  54. 54. The method of claim 36, wherein N is equal to 2 for a head to head competition.
  55. 55. The method of claim 36, wherein N is equal to 4 for a bridge competition.
  56. 56. The method of claim 36, wherein N is equal to 5 for a poker competition.
  57. 57. The method of claim 36, wherein as a value of N increases, the number of rounds of the game decrease, and the faster said game is completed.
  58. 58. The method of claim 36, wherein x equals a number of rounds of said game.
  59. 59. The method of claim 36, wherein x equals a number of initial segments.
  60. 60. The method according to claim 36, wherein data transmission packets are the same size regardless of said total number of participants.
US11714292 2006-03-06 2007-03-06 Interactive tournament contest Abandoned US20070243936A1 (en)

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