US20080119277A1 - Common Interests Affiliation Network Architecture - Google Patents

Common Interests Affiliation Network Architecture Download PDF

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Publication number
US20080119277A1
US20080119277A1 US11/562,091 US56209106A US2008119277A1 US 20080119277 A1 US20080119277 A1 US 20080119277A1 US 56209106 A US56209106 A US 56209106A US 2008119277 A1 US2008119277 A1 US 2008119277A1
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user
profile
recited
module
games
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US11/562,091
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Paul Thelen
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Big Fish Games Inc
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Big Fish Games Inc
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/3202Hardware aspects of a gaming system, e.g. components, construction, architecture thereof
    • G07F17/3223Architectural aspects of a gaming system, e.g. internal configuration, master/slave, wireless communication
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F13/00Video games, i.e. games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions
    • A63F13/30Interconnection arrangements between game servers and game devices; Interconnection arrangements between game devices; Interconnection arrangements between game servers
    • A63F13/33Interconnection arrangements between game servers and game devices; Interconnection arrangements between game devices; Interconnection arrangements between game servers using wide area network [WAN] connections
    • A63F13/335Interconnection arrangements between game servers and game devices; Interconnection arrangements between game devices; Interconnection arrangements between game servers using wide area network [WAN] connections using Internet
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F13/00Video games, i.e. games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions
    • A63F13/70Game security or game management aspects
    • A63F13/79Game security or game management aspects involving player-related data, e.g. identities, accounts, preferences or play histories
    • A63F13/795Game security or game management aspects involving player-related data, e.g. identities, accounts, preferences or play histories for finding other players; for building a team; for providing a buddy list
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F13/00Video games, i.e. games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions
    • A63F13/85Providing additional services to players
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting

Abstract

A common interest affiliation network architecture is described. The architecture may provide a collection of electronic content (e.g., casual games). The architecture may also provide a module to accept inputs from a user to create a profile describing the user's interaction with one or more of the casual games and share the profile with another said user.

Description

    BACKGROUND
  • A variety of electronic content is continually made available to users, such as ring tones, computer programs stored on computer-readable media (e.g., a game for a game console), casual computer games, and so on. Casual computer games (i.e., “casual games”), for instance, are typically configured as relatively small computer games (e.g., less than fifty megabytes) that may be played or easily downloaded over the Internet. A consumer may employ a browser to navigate to a website and play such casual games as Mahjong, word games, card games, board games, action games, mystery games, arcade games, puzzle games, and so on. Thus, casual games may provide for a variety of different types of interaction, such as pattern recognition games, timed games, word games, dexterity-based games, and so on.
  • Because casual games (as well as other electronic content) may assume such a wide variety of configurations, consumers may also form widely varied opinions regarding the casual games. For example, a first consumer may enjoy card games and therefore consider solitaire and poker games relaxing but consider action games stressful and therefore undesirable. A second consumer, however, may enjoy action games but consider card games “too slow”. Consequently, when a new casual game is released, the opinions of the first and second consumers may be quite different depending on the type of game released (e.g., action versus card game) and therefore the opinion of the first consumer may not be relevant to the second consumer and vice versa.
  • SUMMARY
  • A common interest affiliation network architecture is described. The architecture may be used to address the various likes and dislikes of users that interact with electronic content. For example, users may form a profile that includes ratings and reviews. The profiles may then be affiliated, one with another, to create a network of users having similar likes and dislikes regarding the electronic content.
  • The affiliated profiles that form the common interest affiliation network may be leveraged to provide a wide range of functionality to the users. For instance, ratings and reviews that are newly created by members of the network may be automatically propagated to other members of the network such that members of the network may share and express a common experience with electronic content. Additionally, the ratings and reviews of the network as a whole may be used to recommend other games to members of the network. In another example, web pages regarding particular games may be populated with reviews and rating based on ratings and reviews of the network as a whole. Other implementations are also contemplated without departing from the spirit and scope of the architecture and methodologies discussed herein.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The detailed description is described with reference to the accompanying figures. In the figures, the left-most digit(s) of a reference number identifies the figure in which the reference number first appears. The use of the same reference numbers in different figures indicates similar or identical items.
  • FIG. 1 is an illustration of an exemplary environment in which techniques may be utilized to form a common interest affiliation network regarding interaction with electronic content, such as casual games.
  • FIG. 2 is an illustration of a network service system and one of the client devices of FIG. 1 in greater detail.
  • FIG. 3 is a flow diagram depicting a procedure in an exemplary implementation in which an architecture is provided to create profiles describing user interaction with casual games and affiliate the profiles with other profiles to create a common interest affiliation network.
  • FIG. 4 is a flow diagram depicting a procedure in an exemplary implementation in which at least one recommendation is formed regarding an item of electronic content based at least in part on a profile and profiles referenced in the profile.
  • FIG. 5 is a flow diagram depicting a procedure in an exemplary implementation in which a profiled webpage is output that is customized based on a common interest affiliation network that is formed from an affiliation of a profile with one or more other profiles.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • Overview
  • A variety of electronic content is continually made available to users, such as ring tones, computer programs stored on computer-readable media (e.g., a game for a game console), casual computer games, and so on. Further, each of these types of electronic content may be configured in a variety of different ways, such as casual card games versus casual action games, popular music inspired ring tones versus classical ring tones, and so on. Consequently, ratings and reviews of these different types of electronic content may be inaccurate to particular users because the tastes of prospective users may also vary. For example, ratings may trend toward an average score that does not reflect specific user's tastes while reviews may vary widely and thus become unsuitable to a particular user to determine whether a particular item of electronic content will be desirable.
  • For example, consider a newly released Mahjong game that is widely considered to have desirable graphics, sound and production qualities that produces scores based on the user's accuracy in an allotted amount of time. Users that prefer dexterity based games may not find this game desirable and therefore give it a relatively undesirable rating and review. Other users that do like games that rely on pattern recognition, however, may find this game desirable and give it a corresponding favorable rating and review. Yet further, still other users that like pattern recognition games may not like timed games (e.g., may think of them as stressful) and therefore give this game a relatively undesirable rating and review whereas other consumers that do like pattern recognition games and the “thrill” of timed games may give it a favorable rating and review,
  • Consequently, rating systems tend to “trend to the middle” such that an average score is typically given for each game that is rated. For instance, an average score may be given of between three and four on an overall scale of one to five. Additionally, the reviews of the game may vary greatly from “loved it” to “hated it”. Therefore, the ratings and reviews may become “useless” because users' tastes may vary as greatly as the electronic content itself.
  • Accordingly, an architecture is described to provide a common interest affiliation network that may address the various likes and dislikes of users that interact with electronic content. For example, users may form a profile that may include both computer-generated information and manually-entered information regarding ratings and reviews created by the respective users. Computer-generated information in the profile, for instance, may include casual games played by the user, which games were reviewed, rated and summary information like games most often played, least often played, and so on. Manually-entered information may include favorite game played ever, favorite recent release, least favorite game, demographic information, textual summary describing types of games typically favored, and so on. Further, the casual games listed in the profile may include links to detailed ratings and reviews the user created for those games, when applicable.
  • The profiles may also be created to include affiliations to other profiles. For example, a user may read reviews and play casual games based on the reviews. If the user agrees with the reviews, the user can add the other user that wrote the reviews to their profile such that future reviews and ratings are also provided to the user. Thus, the affiliated profiles may create a common interest affiliation network that may be leveraged to provide a wide range of functionality to the users. For instance, ratings and reviews that are newly created by members of the network may be automatically propagated to other members of the network such that members of the network may share and express a common experience with electronic content.
  • Additionally, the ratings and reviews of the network as a whole may be used to recommend other games to members of the network. For example, a recommendation may be made based on the user's profile as well as other profiles referenced in the user's profile. In this way, additional information provided by the other profiles may be leveraged to increase a likelihood of making an accurate recommendation, e.g., recommending a causal game that the user will like. In another example, web pages regarding particular games may be populated with reviews and rating based on ratings and reviews of the network as a whole. For instance, the user may navigate to a web page describing a particular game. Ratings and reviews may be automatically fetched from users having similar profiles and used within the web page such that the user is provided with ratings and reviews that have an increased likelihood of being relevant. A variety of other examples are also contemplated, further discussion of which may be found in relation to the following figures.
  • In the following discussion, an exemplary environment is first described that is operable to perform techniques to form and utilize profiles to provide a common interest affiliation network architecture. Exemplary procedures are then described that may be employed in the exemplary environment, as well as in other environments.
  • Exemplary Environment
  • FIG. 1 shows an exemplary architecture 100 in which a common interest affiliation network may be formed in relation to electronic content such as casual computer games, ring tones, and so on provided by an online service. The architecture 100 has a network service system 102 (also referred to as a service system 102) communicatively coupled to a plurality of client devices 104(1), . . . , 104(N) via a network 106.
  • The client devices 104(1)-104(N) may be configured in a variety of ways to access the network 106. For example, one or more of the client devices 104(1)-104(N) may be configured as a computing device, such as a desktop computer (e.g., as illustrated by client device 104(1)), a mobile station, an entertainment appliance, a set-top box communicatively coupled to a display device, a wireless phone (e.g., as illustrated by client device 104(N)), a game console, and so forth.
  • The network 106 may assume a wide variety of configurations. For example, the network 106 may include the Internet, a wide area network (WAN), a local area network (LAN), a wireless network, a public telephone network, an intranet, and so on. Further, although a single network 106 is shown, the network 106 may be configured to include multiple networks.
  • Each of the client devices 104(1)-104(N) is illustrated as having a respective communication module 108(1)-108(N), which is representative of functionality to communicate with the service system 102 over the network 106. For example, the communication modules 108(1)-108(N) may be configured as browsers that are used to display and interact with resources over the network 106 (e.g., “surf the Internet”), such as to receive web pages and so on. In another example, the communication modules 108(1)-108(N) are representative of functionality incorporated within another module (i.e., a smart module) to communicate over the network 106, such as an application program having Internet access capabilities. A variety of other examples are also contemplated.
  • The service system 102 may be implemented in any number of ways, including as a mainframe computer system, as a standalone server, or as a cluster or farm of servers. The service system 102 in the illustrated architecture 100 of FIG. 1 hosts electronic content which may be made available to the client devices 104(1)-104(N) over the network 106. In one implementation, the electronic content is accessible via a website hosted at the network service system 102 or elsewhere.
  • The electronic content may be configured in a variety of ways. For example, the electronic content may support an online gaming service in which consumers can access one or more computer games over the network 106 for a fee using the client devices 104(1)-104(N). In the illustrated implementation, the computer games are casual games 110(g) (where “g” can be any integer from one to “G”), which are commonly configured as relatively small games (e.g., less than fifty megabytes) that may be played over the Internet or easily downloaded to the client devices 104(1)-104(N). The casual games 110(g) may be configured in a variety of ways to provide a wide variety of different gaming themes or genres. Example casual games 110(g) include Mahjong, word games, card games, board games, action games, arcade games, puzzle games, mystery games, and so on.
  • A manager module 112 manages access to and provision of the casual games 110(g) to facilitate user interaction. For example, the manager module 112 may receive a request from one client device 104(1) to interact with a particular one of the games 110(g). The manager module 112 may collect or record a fee resulting from the client device 104(1) interaction with the game 110(g). In this example, the client device 104(1) uses the communication module 108(1) to access the website and download a stand-alone game 110(1) for local execution. In another example, the other illustrated client device 104(1N) accesses a browser-based game 110(N) that is executed remotely by the network service system 102. Therefore, although the user may interact with the communication module 108(N) to play the game 110(N), execution of the game 110(N) is performed by the service system 102 responsive to input from the client device. A variety of other examples are also contemplated, such as through execution of a game, at least in part, both locally on the client device and remotely by the service system 102 over the network 106.
  • The manager module 112 is further illustrated as incorporating a profile module 114 that is representative of functionality to generate one or more profiles 116(p) (where “p” can be any integer from one to “P”) that describe interaction of the users with electronic content, such as the casual games 110(g) of the architecture 100 of FIG. 1. For example, the profiles 116(p) may include ratings 118 and reviews 120 of the casual games 110(g). Ratings 118 may refer to numerical or symbol-based scoring of a game that indicates whether the user liked or disliked the game, such as using a scale of one to five, star ratings, letter grades (e.g., “A”, “C”, “F”), and so on. Thus, the ratings 118 may be objectively compared, one to another, to determine like or dislike of the casual games 110(g). Reviews 120 may include written text that is input by a user to describe the casual games 110(g), such as what aspects of the game the user liked or disliked, overall impression of the game, nuances of the game (e.g., regarding graphics, production quality, and so on), commentary regarding other reviews, and so on.
  • The profiles 116(p) may also include references to other profiles to create affiliations 122 between the profiles. For example, the user may agree with certain ratings and reviews contained in other profiles and affiliate those profiles with the user's profile. This affiliation may then be used to provide recommendations to the user, both based on the rating and reviews in their own profile as well as the ratings and reviews of the affiliated profiles. Additionally, ratings and reviews that are newly created in affiliated profiles may be automatically propagated to other affiliated users. In another example, profiles having common ratings may be automatically affiliated by the profile module 114 to make recommendations, forward relevant reviews, and so on. A variety of other examples are also contemplated. Thus, the affiliated profiles may create a common interest affiliation network that may be leveraged to provide a wide range of functionality to the users, further discussion of which may be found in relation to FIGS. 3-5.
  • Although this exemplary architecture 100 described casual games as an example of electronic content, it should be readily apparent that a wide variety of electronic content is contemplated, such a electronic content delivered over a network (e.g., ring tones), delivered via a computer-readable medium (e.g., a computer-readable disc having a game), and so on. In an implementation, the number of items of electronic content provided varies between approximately fifty items to approximately one thousand items.
  • Generally, any of the functions described herein can be implemented using software, firmware, hardware (e.g., fixed logic circuitry), manual processing, or a combination of these implementations. The terms “module,” “functionality,” and “logic” as used herein generally represent software, firmware, hardware or a combination thereof. In the case of a software implementation, the module, functionality, or logic represents program code that performs specified tasks when executed on a processor (e.g., CPU or CPUs). The program code can be stored in one or more computer-readable memory devices, further discussion of which may be found in relation to the following figure. The features of the common interest affiliation network techniques described below are platform-independent, meaning that the techniques may be implemented on a variety of commercial computing platforms having a variety of processors.
  • FIG. 2 illustrates a more detailed, but still exemplary, implementation of the architecture 200 in which certain components of the service system 102 and a representative client device 104(n) are shown. The service system 102 is illustrated as being implemented by a server 202(s). Additionally, the server 202(s) and the client device 104(n) are implemented with respective processors 204(s), 204(n) and respective memories 206(s), 206(n).
  • Processors are not limited by the materials from which they are formed or the processing mechanisms employed therein. For example, processors may be comprised of semiconductor(s) and/or transistors (e.g., electronic integrated circuits (ICs)). In such a context, processor-executable instructions may be electronically-executable instructions. Additionally, although a single memory 206(s), 206(n) is shown, respectively, for the server 202(s) and the client device 104(n), a wide variety of types and combinations of memory may be employed, such as random access memory (RAM), hard disk memory, removable medium memory, and other types of computer-readable media.
  • The client device 104(n) is illustrated as executing the communication module 108(n) on the processor 204(n), which is also storable in memory 206(n). The communication module 108(n) is executable to provide a user interface 208(n) to interact with the service system 102 over the network 106. For example, the user interface 208(n) may display web pages to login to the service 102, play browser-based games executed by the service system 102, download games for execution on the client device 104(n), create a profile 116(p) that corresponds to a user of the client device 104(n), and so on, further discussion of which may be found below.
  • The service system is illustrated as executing the manager module 112 and the profile module 114 on the processor 204(s) of the server 202(s), although the manager and profile modules 112, 114 are physically stored in memory 206(s). As previously stated, the profile module 114 is representative of functionality to create, maintain and/or leverage profiles 116(p) that describe user interaction with electronic content, such as the illustrated casual games 110(g).
  • The profile module 114, for instance, may provide the user interface 208(n) to the client device 104(n) to create a respective profile 116(p). The user, for instance, may provide manually-entered data 210 such as favorite game played, favorite recent release, least favorite game, summary paragraph describing types of games typically favored (erg., dexterity, action, timed, card), and so on. The profile module 114 may also provide computer-generated data 212, such as a list of all games played, reviewed, rated, types of games most frequented, most recent game frequented, types of games not typically played, types of games typically rated, period of time the user has interacted with the service system 102, amount of time in a given time period the user spends interacting with the casual games 110(g), and so on.
  • The profile 116(p) may also include one or more affiliations to other profiles as previously described, which may be manually entered and/or generated by the profile module 114 automatically. For example, a user may interact with the user interface 208(n) and search existing profiles (e.g., ratings 118 and/or reviews 120 in the profile 116(p)) for particular ones that seems to correspond to the user's likes and/or dislikes. The user may then add a reference to this profile, such as by clicking a button next to that rating or review.
  • The profile module 114 may also support a feature to automatically add affiliations 120 to similar profiles and thus the affiliations 120 may also be generated without user intervention. For example, the profile module 114 may examine ratings 118 in the profile 116(p) and supply references to other profiles having similar ratings. In an implementation, these supplied references may be output via the user interface 208(n) for acceptance or rejection by a user before the affiliation 120 is included in the profile 116(p).
  • The profile module 115 may also support invitation functionality to invite users that have had their profiles affiliated with another user to also add that other user to their profiles. For example, when an affiliation is made to add a first profile (either automatically or manually) to a second profile, the profile module 114 may send an invitation to a user of the first profile to add a reference to the second profile. In other words, the user having their profile added to another profile may also be invited to add that other profile to their profile. The invitation may be supplied in a variety of ways, such as via email, instant message, an account information area of a webpage, and so on. The invitation may also include a link to see the profile to be added, a selectable portion (e.g., button) to add the other profile, and so on. Thus, a common interest affiliation network having profiles that are associated, one with another, may be created in a variety of different ways. A variety of other examples are also contemplated, further discussion of which may be found in relation to the exemplary procedures.
  • The affiliated profiles, once created, may then be leveraged in a variety of different ways. For example, the affiliated profiles may be used to determine whether a particular game might be of interest to a user with a common interest affiliation network. A user, for instance, may receive a profiled webpage 214(n) that includes information based on the user's profile, including profiles referenced in the user's profile. The profiled webpage 214(n) may then be utilized by the user to determine whether the particular game may be of interest, such as based on how the referenced profiles rate the game, average rating of the referenced profiles for that game, number of referenced profiles that rate the game, links to reviews included in the referenced profiles, and so on.
  • The profile webpage 214(n) may also include an area that presents games that the user has not played, but are recommended based on the user's profile, including the referenced profiles. For example, the referenced profiles (e.g., profiles of members included in a common interest affiliation network) may be aggregated and a single set of recommendations may be generated based on this aggregation. The recommended games may then be reviewed by selecting them (e.g., “clicking on them”) to read reviews provided by referenced profiles, i.e., members of the common interest affiliation network.
  • In an implementation, the profile module 114 may also provide incentives to create profiles 116(p) and provide ratings 118 and reviews 120. The profile module 114, for example, may provide incentives to a user for surpassing different thresholds, in which, each threshold defines a number of other profiles that have referenced the user's profile. The incentives, for instance, may be a virtual incentive that modifies the user's interaction with the casual game system, such as a badge that is displayed to other users (e.g., “Top Ten Reviewer”), a monetary incentive that is redeemable, at least in part, towards a purchase of one or more of the casual games 110(g), and so on. A variety of other examples are also contemplated.
  • Yet further, the profile module 114 may also provide statistics relating to the profiles. For example, the profile 116(p) may include computer-generated data 212 that describes a number of other profiles that reference the profile 116(p), how many profiles are referenced by those profiles, and so on. In this way, users may be kept up-to-date regarding use of their profiles by other users and encouraged to continue to update their profiles regarding interaction with electronic content.
  • Exemplary Procedures
  • The following discussion describes techniques to create and leverage a common interest affiliation network that may be implemented utilizing the previously described systems and devices. Aspects of each of the procedures may be implemented in hardware, firmware, or software, or a combination thereof. The procedures are shown as a set of blocks that specify operations performed by one or more devices and are not necessarily limited to the orders shown for performing the operations by the respective blocks. In portions of the following discussion, reference will be made to systems and components shown in FIGS. 1 and 2.
  • FIG. 3 depicts a procedure 300 in an exemplary implementation in which an architecture is provided to create profiles describing user interaction with casual games and affiliate the profiles with other profiles to create a common interest affiliation network. A collection of casual games are provided that are playable or downloadable over a network (block 302). The casual games, for instance, may be configured as Mahjong, word games, card games, board games, action games, mystery games, arcade games, puzzle games, and so on.
  • A module is provided to accept inputs from a first user to create a first profile describing the first user's interaction with one or more of the casual games (block 304). The module, for instance, may be configured to accept manually-entered data 210 such as ratings and reviews. The created profile may also be configured to accept computer-generated data 212, such as number of games played, frequency at which the games are played, number of reviews, specific game genres that are played and not played, and so on. The profile is then exposed to be shared with other users (block 306), such as through inclusion in a website of the network service system 102 that is also configured to provide the casual games 110(g).
  • A search utility is provided to search the profiles of other users (block 308). The manager module 122, for instance, may include a utility to search ratings and/or reviews submitted to describe interaction with the games. For example, the search utility may search for profiles having ratings that approximate ratings submitted by the users in their own profiles. The search utility may also accept inputs by users to search for profiles of interest, such as regarding specific rating/review given to particular games, demographic information, and so on.
  • A second profile is associated with a first profile found from the search (block 310). The user, for instance, may select a portion of the user interface 208(n) (e.g., a button) to add a reference to a profile found during the search. In this way, the profile and the referenced profile create a common interest affiliation network that may be leveraged in a variety of different ways, further discussion of which may be found in relation to FIG. 4.
  • Upon association of the second profile, an invitation is formed to invite a second user that corresponds to the second profile to associate the first profile with the second profile (block 312). Thus, the user that is having their profile affiliated with another profile may be given an opportunity to also affiliate that other profile with their profile.
  • The first user may also use affiliated profiles to locate other profiles. For example, the first user may browse to the second profile and locate a third profile to be affiliated with the first profile (block 314). The second user, for instance, may have located a third profile that contains a multitude of ratings and reviews that are agreeable to the second user. Because the first user already found the second profile agreeable, the first user has an increased likelihood of finding the third profile agreeable and therefore may browse profiles referenced in the second profile for inclusion in the first profile. In another instance, the referenced profiles are included automatically (and so on with profiles included in the automatically referenced profiles) and a weighting is applied based on “degrees of separation” of the profiles to leverage the profiles. For example, a profile that was manually affiliated by the user may be given greater weight than a profile that was automatically affiliated based on that manual affiliation.
  • One or more incentives may also be provided to update the profiles (block 316). The profile module 114, for example, may define a plurality of thresholds, in which each threshold defines a number of other profiles that have referenced the user's profile. The profile module 114 may then provide incentives to a user for surpassing the different thresholds. The incentives, for instance, may be virtual such that the user's interaction with the casual game system is modified, such as a badge that is displayed to other users (e.g., “Top Ten Reviewer”, “Top Referenced Review”, and so on), a monetary incentive that is redeemable, at least in part, towards a purchase of one or more of the casual games 110(g), and so forth. A variety of other examples are also contemplated.
  • FIG. 4 depicts a procedure 400 in an exemplary implementation in which at least one recommendation is formed regarding an item of electronic content based at least in part on a profile and profiles referenced in the profile. A profile is received that describes interaction with one or more items of electronic content (block 402). The profile, for instance, may describe user interaction with casual games, ring tones, computer programs stored on computer-readable media (e.g., a game for a game console), and so on.
  • One or more profiles are located that are referenced in the received profile (block 404). For example, the profile module 114 may examine links contained in the profile 116(p) to other profiles and fetch the corresponding profiles.
  • A recommendation is formed regarding at least one item of the electronic content based on the received profile and the located one or more profiles (block 406). The profile module 114, for example, may aggregate the received profile and the one or more profiles and use this aggregation to recommend an item of electronic content, with which, the user has not previously interacted. The recommendation may then be output (block 408), such as through the user interface 208(n) at the client. Thus, in this example the user's profile, including profiles referenced in that profile, is used to recommend electronic content. Thus, the recommended content has an increased likelihood of being relevant to the user. A variety of other examples are also contemplated.
  • FIG. 5 depicts a procedure 500 in an exemplary implementation in which a profiled webpage is output that is customized based on a common interest affiliation network that is formed from an affiliation of a profile with one or more other profiles. An input is received from a user to navigate to a webpage related to a particular casual game (block 502). The user, for instance, may interact with the communication module 108(1) configured as a browser and request a webpage from the network service system 102.
  • The network service system 102, through execution of the manager module 112 (and more particularly the profile module 114), may find a common interest affiliation network that corresponds to the user (block 504). The profile module 114, for instance, may determine an identity of the user (e.g., through logging on to the network service system 102, through an indication included in the request, and so on) and locate a profile 116(p) that corresponds to the user. The profile module 114 may then examine the profile to find other profiles that are affiliated with that profile to form the common interest affiliation network.
  • A determination is made as to which rating, reviews and/or recommendations to include in the webpage (block 506) based on the corresponding common interest affiliation network. The profile module 114, for example, may locate rating and reviews from the referenced profiles and include them in the webpage. When a sufficient number of rating and reviews are not included in the referenced profiles, profiles referenced in the referenced profiled (i.e., profiles that are children of the referenced profile) may also be fetched and used. A variety of other examples are also contemplated.
  • The webpage is then formed to include the determined ratings, reviews and/or recommendations (block 508), such as to include them in particular areas of the webpage along with a description of the particular casual game that is related to the webpage. The webpage may then be output to be communicated to the user (block 510), such as transmitted over the network 106 to be displayed in the user interface 208(n) of the client device 104(n). A variety of other techniques to leverage profiles are also contemplated.
  • Conclusion
  • Although the invention has been described in language specific to structural features and/or methodological acts, it is to be understood that the invention defined in the appended claims is not necessarily limited to the specific features or acts described. Rather, the specific features and acts are disclosed as exemplary forms of implementing the claimed invention.

Claims (29)

1. A method comprising:
providing a collection of casual games that are playable or downloadable over a network; and
providing a module to accept inputs from a user to create a profile describing the user's interaction with one or more of the casual games and share the profile with another said user.
2. A method as recited in claim 1, wherein the collection and the module are accessible via a web site.
3. A method as recited in claim 1, wherein the collection includes between approximately fifty and approximately one thousand said casual games.
4. A method as recited in claim 1, wherein at least one of the games is available for trial or purchase via a web browser.
5. A method as recited in claim 1, wherein the profile includes a rating for a respective said casual game.
6. A method as recited in claim 1, wherein the profile includes a textual review for a respective said casual game.
7. A method as recited in claim 1, wherein the module is to automatically update the profile as the user continues to interact with the casual games.
8. A method as recited in claim 1, wherein the module is to provide an invitation to be sent by the other said user to the user to share the user's profile.
9. A method as recited in claim 1, wherein the profile references a profile of at least one other said user, the profile of the at least one other said user being accessible through the shared profile of the user.
10. A method as recited in claim 1, wherein the module is to recommend at least one of the casual games, with which, the user has not interacted based on the profile.
11. A method as recited in claim 1, wherein the module is to recommend at least one of the casual games, with which, the other said user has not interacted based on a profile of the other said user and the shared profile.
12. A method as recited in claim 1, wherein the module is to output a webpage having one or more statistics that describe the interaction.
13. A method as recited in claim 1, wherein the module is to make a plurality of said profiles searchable.
14. A method as recited in claim 1, wherein the module is to determine whether the user has surpassed one or more thresholds, each of which define a relative number of other said users that share the profile.
15. A method as recited in claim 14, wherein the module is to provide a incentive to the user for surpassing at least one said threshold.
16. A method as recited in claim 15, wherein the incentive is a virtual incentive that modifies the user's interaction with the casual game system.
17. A method as recited in claim 15, wherein the incentive is a monetary incentive that is redeemable, at least in part, toward purchase of one or more said casual games.
18. One or more computer readable media comprising computer executable instructions that, when executed, direct the computer to output a user interface to:
create a profile referencing a plurality of users that having interacted with a collection having between approximately fifty and approximately one thousand items of electronic content, wherein each said referenced user has a respective said profile that describes the referenced user's interaction with the electronic content; and
suggest one of more items of the electronic content based on the profiles of the referenced said users.
19. One or more computer readable media as described in claim 18, wherein the suggestion of the one or more items includes at least one said item, with which, a user that corresponds to the created profile has not interacted.
20. One or more computer readable media as described in claim 18, wherein the suggestion is based on at least one profile referenced in the profile of a referenced said user.
21. One or more computer readable media as described in claim 18, wherein at least one of the respective said profiles of the referenced said users includes a rating for a respective said item.
22. One or more computer readable media as described in claim 18, wherein at least one said item of electronic content is a casual game, a ring tone or a computer-readable medium having instructions that are executable on a computer.
23. A casual game system comprising:
one or more casual games that are accessible via a website; and
a module to associate a first profile that describes a first user's interaction with the one or more casual games with a second profile and provide one or more incentives to the first user to create the first profile.
24. A casual game system as recited in claim 23, wherein the module is to enable the first user to search a plurality of said profiles.
25. A casual game system as recited in claim 23, wherein the module is to enable the second user to search one or more profiles referenced in the first profile of the first user.
26. A casual game system as recited in claim 23, wherein the module is to form an invitation to invite the first user associated with the first profile to associate the second user with the first profile.
27. A casual game system as recited in claim 23, wherein the module is to recommend at least one of the casual games to the second user based at least in part on the first profile.
28. A casual game system as recited in claim 23, wherein the module is to accept manually entered data from the first user to modify the first profile.
29. A casual game system as recited in claim 23, further comprising a plurality of servers, each having a processor and memory configured to maintain instructions that are executable on the respective processor to provide the one or more casual games and the module.
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