US20080214308A1 - Gaming system including a player ranking function - Google Patents

Gaming system including a player ranking function Download PDF

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Publication number
US20080214308A1
US20080214308A1 US11/851,141 US85114107A US2008214308A1 US 20080214308 A1 US20080214308 A1 US 20080214308A1 US 85114107 A US85114107 A US 85114107A US 2008214308 A1 US2008214308 A1 US 2008214308A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
benchmark
player
gaming system
players
gaming
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Abandoned
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US11/851,141
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Martin Stephen Lyons
Andrew Anthony Lee
Marc Cram
Gareth Phillips
Michael Thomas McNee
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Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd
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Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd
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Priority to AU2006904911A priority Critical patent/AU2006904911A0/en
Priority to AU2006904911 priority
Application filed by Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd filed Critical Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd
Assigned to ARISTOCRAT TECHNOLOGIES AUSTRALIA PTY LTD reassignment ARISTOCRAT TECHNOLOGIES AUSTRALIA PTY LTD ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: MCNEE, MICHAEL THOMAS, CRAM, MARC, LYONS, MARTIN STEPHEN, LEE, ANDREW ANTHONY, PHILLIPS, GARETH
Publication of US20080214308A1 publication Critical patent/US20080214308A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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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
    • G07F17/34Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting depending on the stopping of moving members in a mechanical slot machine, e.g. "fruit" machines
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/3225Data transfer within a gaming system, e.g. data sent between gaming machines and users
    • G07F17/3232Data transfer within a gaming system, e.g. data sent between gaming machines and users wherein the operator is informed
    • G07F17/3237Data transfer within a gaming system, e.g. data sent between gaming machines and users wherein the operator is informed about the players, e.g. profiling, responsible gaming, strategy/behavior of players, location of players
    • G07F17/3239Tracking of individual 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
    • G07F17/326Game play aspects of gaming systems
    • G07F17/3262Player actions which determine the course of the game, e.g. selecting a prize to be won, outcome to be achieved, game to be played
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/326Game play aspects of gaming systems
    • G07F17/3272Games involving multiple players
    • G07F17/3276Games involving multiple players wherein the players compete, e.g. tournament

Abstract

A gaming system comprising at least one gaming machine providing a wagering game; readable and writable computer memory; a monitor in electronic communication with the at least one gaming machine and the computer memory; a user interface through which a player can input identity information; wherein the monitor receives data relating to game play on said at least one gaming machine and compares the received data to at least one benchmark, wherein if the received data indicates that the at least one benchmark has been exceeded, then the monitor records in the computer memory data indicating that the benchmark has been exceeded and associates this with the identity information, and wherein the gaming system makes a feature available to a player who has been recorded in the computer memory as having exceeded the benchmark.

Description

    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application claims priority to Australian Patent Application No. AU2006904911, having an international filing date of Sep. 6, 2006, entitled “Gaming System Including a Player Ranking Function”, which is hereby incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention generally relates to a gaming systems, methods and apparatuses. A particular embodiment of the invention relates to gaming systems offering a tournament feature game.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • Casinos include a large number of gaming machines, each playable by a patron of the casino. Originally gaming machines were playable entirely independently of each other. Accordingly the gaming machine itself would not provide any feeling that the player was part of a group or community, which left individual players to interact with other people if they wanted any level of interaction with other players.
  • In existing systems a sense of the other players at a casino may be provided through some level of link between the gaming machines, whether that link is through providing a competition where players compete against each other, through providing a common jackpot, or otherwise. The applicant believes that there is a need for further improvement in providing a link between gaming machines.
  • In addition, there is a need to provide new ways for players of gaming machines to interact with gaming machines in order to attract new players to a gambling floor and to maintain interest of existing players.
  • Throughout the specification the term “comprise” and variations on this term including “comprising” and “comprises” are to be understood to imply the inclusion of a feature, integer, step or element, and not to exclude other features, integers, steps or elements.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • According to a first aspect, the present invention broadly resides in a gaming system comprising:
  • at least one gaming machine providing a wagering game;
  • readable and writable computer memory;
  • a monitor in electronic communication with the at least one gaming machine and the computer memory;
  • a user interface through which a player can input identity information;
    • wherein the monitor receives data relating to game play on said at least one gaming machine and compares the received data to at least one benchmark, wherein if the received data indicates that the at least one benchmark has been exceeded, then the monitor records in the computer memory data indicating that the benchmark has been exceeded and associates this with the identity information, and
    • wherein the gaming system makes a feature available to a player who has been recorded in the computer memory as having exceeded the benchmark.
  • The benchmark may be calculated dependent on game play across a plurality of machines, with the plurality of machines being one of:
  • i) the gaming machines being played by a predefined group of players;
  • ii) a predefined group of gaming machines at which players have input identity information;
  • iii) all gaming machines over one or more locations at which players have input identity information.
  • At least one benchmark may be related to a value or the occurrence of a particular event.
  • The gaming system may provide players with a choice as to whether their game play is monitored.
  • Optionally, the feature may be selected from the group comprising: fanfare on the identification of the player at a location, advertisement of the player as having exceeded the benchmark, access to special tournaments, display of special greetings, messages or other stimuli at gaming machines, the addition of attributes to an avatar of the player, eligibility to enter one or more competitions or draws, and the provision of one or more player advantages.
  • The data that is related to game play and which is compared to a benchmark may be calculated over a predetermined or determinable period of time, or over a predetermined number of game plays.
  • The monitor may compare the received data to a plurality of benchmarks and groups players according to which of the plurality of benchmarks a player has exceeded. The plurality of benchmarks may comprise a sequence of benchmarks with each benchmark more difficult to exceed than the previous benchmark.
  • The gaming system may be operable to rank players according to the extent to which they have exceeded a particular benchmark.
  • The gaming system may be operable to offer a tournament and to restrict entry to the tournament to players having a minimum rank and/or to players of a particular group. The gaming system may include a tournament controller and may be operable to allow a player to challenge a player to a tournament and wherein the ability to challenge and/or be challenged is limited to players of a certain grouping and/or players of a certain ranking.
  • The gaming system may be operable to provide at least one tournament player with an advantage, the advantage determined according to the ranking and/or grouping of the tournament player. Higher ranking and/or grouped players may be provided with greater advantages than lower ranking and/or grouped players. The advantage may relate to the number of credits a player begins the tournament with.
  • According to a second aspect, the present invention broadly resides in a method of operating a gaming machine at which a wagering game may be played and at which a player may provide identifying information, said method comprising monitoring game play on the gaming machine to receive data, and comparing the received data to a benchmark, recording when the benchmark has been exceeded when identifying information has been provided and providing a feature to a player who has been recorded as having exceeded the benchmark.
  • The method may comprise computing the benchmark dependent on game play across a plurality of machines, with the plurality of machines being one of:
  • i) the gaming machines being played by a predefined group of players;
  • ii) a predefined group of gaming machines at which players have input identity information;
  • iii) all gaming machines over one or more locations at which players have input identity information.
  • The feature may be at least one feature selected from the group comprising: fanfare on the identification of the player at a location, advertisement of the player as having exceeded the benchmark, access to special tournaments, display of special greetings, messages or other stimuli at gaming machines, the addition or alteration of attributes to an avatar of the player, and eligibility to enter one or more competitions or draws.
  • The method may comprise offering a tournament between players that have exceeded the benchmark and allowing a player to select what other player to play in the tournament. The ability to challenge and/or be challenged may be limited to players that have exceeded the benchmark.
  • According to a third aspect, the present invention broadly resides in a gaming system comprising:
  • at least one gaming machine providing a wagering game;
  • readable and writable computer memory;
  • a monitor in electronic communication with the at least one gaming machine and the computer memory;
  • a user interface through which a player can input identity information;
    • wherein the monitor receives data relating to game play on said at least one gaming machine and compares the received data to at least one benchmark, wherein if the received data indicates that the at least one benchmark has been exceeded, then the monitor records in the computer memory data indicating that the benchmark has been exceeded and associates this with the identity information, and
    • wherein the gaming system further comprises at least one display controlled by a controller in communication with the monitor and the controller causes the display to display information identifying each player that has exceeded one of the benchmarks.
  • The display information associated with exceeding a particular benchmark may be different to the display information associated with exceeding any other benchmark.
  • According to a fourth aspect, the present invention broadly resides in a method of operating a gaming system, the method comprising monitoring play of at least one wagering game by a plurality of players on at least one gaming machine, comparing the game play to a benchmark, and displaying on a display information identifying each player that has exceeded the benchmark.
  • According to a fifth aspect, the present invention broadly resides in a gaming system comprising:
  • at least one gaming machine providing a wagering game;
  • readable and writable computer memory;
  • a monitor in electronic communication with the at least one gaming machine and the computer memory;
  • a user interface through which a player can input identity information;
    • wherein the monitor receives data relating to game play on said at least one gaming machine and compares the received data to at least one benchmark, wherein if the received data indicates that the at least one benchmark has been exceeded, then the monitor records in the computer memory data indicating that the benchmark has been exceeded and associates this with the identity information, wherein the benchmark is determined dependent on historical records of game play on the at least one gaming machine.
  • According to a sixth aspect, the present invention broadly resides in a method of operating a gaming system, the method comprising monitoring play of at least one wagering game by a plurality of players on at least one gaming machine, comparing the game play to a benchmark, and providing at least one feature to each player whose monitored game play exceeds the benchmark, wherein the benchmark is determined dependent on historical records of game play on the at least one gaming machine.
  • Certain embodiments of the present invention also broadly reside in computer software or a computer readable media containing instructions to cause a computer controller to operate in accordance with the immediately preceding paragraphs.
  • Further aspects of the present invention will become apparent from the following description, given by way of example only and with reference to the accompanying drawings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The present invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:
  • FIG. 1: shows diagrammatically a gaming system suitable for implementing certain embodiments of the present invention;
  • FIG. 2: shows a block diagram of a gaming machine of FIG. 1, according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 3: shows a flow diagram of an example process performed by the gaming system and gaming machine of FIG. 1.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS
  • Throughout the following description and in the accompanying drawings like reference numerals refer to like components unless specifically stated otherwise.
  • Referring to FIG. 1 of the accompanying drawings, a gaming system suitable for implementing certain embodiments of the present invention is generally referenced by arrow 100. The gaming system 100 comprises a number of gaming machines 1, which in this example are arranged in three banks of gaming machines 2, with each bank of gaming machines 2 having two gaming machines 1. The gaming machines 1 used in the gaming system 100 of the present invention may be all the gaming machines in a casino, all the gaming machines across multiple casinos, or may be a selection of gaming machines from a casino or group of casinos.
  • Each gaming machine 1 is in data communication with a controller 3 through a communication channel 4, which may be a fixed wire or wireless communication channel. In FIG. 1 only three communication channels 4 are shown, one for each bank of gaming machines 2. In alternative embodiments each gaming machine 1 may have a separate communication channel 4 or multiple banks of gaming machines 2 may share at least a part of a common communication channel 4.
  • The controller 3 is in communication with a database 5 and acts as a database management server. An administrator terminal 6, which may be in the form of a personal computer, allows management of the controller 3, for example by an owner of the gaming system 100 or their agent. The controller 3 may also provide and control access to a wide area network, for example the Internet, typically through a firewall. The administrator terminal 6 may optionally access the controller through the Internet connection using suitable security precautions, which may include for example, a virtual private network. The controller 3 may comprise one or more servers connected to a network or otherwise in communication with each other and the gaming machines 1.
  • Each gaming machine 1 may include a primary display 7 and a secondary display 8, which may incorporate for example, LCD, plasma or CRT screens. A user interface 9 is also provided to allow a player to play a game on the gaming machine 1. A typical game that may be played on the gaming machines 1 is a spinning reel game, otherwise known as a fruit game where awards may be provided to a player on the basis of the occurrence of certain pre-defined winning combinations, although many alternative games exist. A reader 10 is provided to read a card or ticket of a player. The card (not shown) may be a magnetic stripe card or a smart card and the ticket may be printed ticket, which may be printed with a barcode or other indicia. The gaming machine 1 may further include a printer 11, a coin in mechanism 13 and a coin out mechanism 12.
  • Those skilled in the relevant arts will appreciate that the gaming machines 1 shown in FIG. 1 represent only one example of a large number of possible configurations and architectures of gaming machines. The gaming machines 1 shown in FIG. 1 are in an upright configuration, with probably the most widely known an alternate configuration being a slant top configuration. Alternative architectures of gaming machine that may be used with the present invention include gaming machines that do not have a secondary display 8, a coin output mechanism 12, a coin input mechanism 13 and/or a printer 11. In addition, the user interface 9 may be provided in part or in whole through touch pads provided in the display 7. The gaming machines 1 may include further parts or components, depending on the requirements for the owner or operator of the gaming machines 1.
  • The controller 3, as previously stated, may act as a database management server for the database 5. The controller 3 may also act as a server for the gaming machines 1, which then act as client terminals. The controller 3 may have various functions, including for example, allowing the download of video media, game programs, managing one or more progressive jackpots.
  • FIG. 2 shows a block diagram of a gaming machine 1, forming part of a gaming system 101. In the gaming system 101 the controller 3 communicates with the gaming machines 1 through a communication channel 4 that traverses a network 21, which may be a local area network of a casino. The gaming machine 1 may include a game controller 20 including a network card 14 to facilitate this communication. The network card 14 is controlled by a processor 15, which is suitably a microprocessor, but in alternative embodiments may be a microcontroller, programmable logic device or other computational device. Game program(s) and game data are stored in a memory 16, which is in data communication with the processor 15. Typically the game controller 20 will include both volatile and non-volatile memory and more than one of each type of memory may be provided, with such memories being collectively represented by the memory 16. In addition, functions of the processor 15 may be separated into separate devices.
  • The game controller 20 may include meters 17 for the purposes of regulatory compliance and also include input/output (I/O) ports 18 for communicating with the peripheral devices of the gaming machine 1. In FIG. 2, the peripheral devices that communicate with the controller 20 are the primary and secondary displays 7, 8, the user interface 9, the reader 10, the printer 11 and the coin input and coin output mechanisms 12, 13.
  • During play of the gaming machine 1, the processor 15 sends characteristics indicative of the game play on the gaming machine 1 to the controller 3 through the communication channel 4. The characteristics that are sent are used to evaluate the game play of the gaming machine 1 against one or more benchmarks. Accordingly, one of the functions of the controller 3 is to act as a monitor of game play. One suitable characteristic that may be monitored is the amount of winnings that the gaming machine 1 has awarded, with or without reference to the number of credits or funds used to obtain those winnings. Alternative or additional characteristics that may be used include the amount lost, the time spent playing the gaming machine 1, the average time between wins, the average level of wager per game, and the occurrence of a particular event such as a winning combination (e.g. the occurrence of a certain number of particular symbols in a particular configuration). Furthermore, the characteristics may be a combination of sub-characteristics. For example, the characteristic may be the total winnings over a period divided by the number of games played in that period, the total of winnings less losses during a period divided by the number of games played in that period, or any other combination that may be required. The characteristics that are used may be made known to players of the gaming machines 1, or may be kept secret.
  • In addition, the time period over which the characteristics are measured may be varied. For example, the characteristic that is compared with a benchmark may be calculated based on:
      • a) a total or average value calculated for a fixed time window, for example a calendar week or month;
      • b) a total or average value calculated in a moving time window, for example over the immediately preceding seven days or over the immediately preceding thirty days; or
      • c) a total or average that is calculated based on a predetermined number of previous game plays, irrespective of the time period over which the games span.
  • Characteristics of the gaming machine 1 may also be sent to the controller 3, including for example identification of the game that is currently being played on the gaming machine 1 and the name or type of the gaming machine 1. This information may already be available to the controller 3 from information stored in either the memory 16 or the database 5, in which case the need to communicate these characteristics to the controller would be avoided.
  • The gaming machine 1 also sends player identity information, which is associated with the characteristics. The player identity information may be received, for example, from a magnetic swipe card, smart card or ticket and which has been received by the reader 10 prior to commencement of play, or entered by a player using a user interface 9 of the gaming machine 1.
  • The controller 3 receives the player identity information and the characteristics of game play and, depending on the nature of the benchmark, builds an accumulative total, analyses the winning combinations achieved, or calculates an average of the characteristics for that player identity. For example, where the characteristic is the amount won on a gaming machine, a total of the amount won across all gaming machines and over all time may be maintained for that player identity. Other mathematical functions could be applied to the characteristics of game play for comparison to the benchmark, depending on the requirements that have been predetermined as being required to exceed the benchmark, including introducing an element of randomness.
  • The value of the accumulative total, average of the amount won, or the winning combinations achieved (depending on the nature of the benchmark) is then compared to a benchmark. The benchmark may be set by the owner or operator of the gaming system 100, 101, which may be a casino, or may be a calculated value that is calculated dependent on one or more variables.
  • As discussed in detail below, when a player satisfies or exceeds a benchmark that player may be assigned a particular ranking or membership to a particular group, for example a “hall of fame”.
  • For example, benchmarks may be pre-programmed into the gaming machine in accordance with levels of probability known by the game designer. By way of example, and referring to a benchmark related to the occurrence of a particular winning combination, in a first gaming machine the probability of obtaining five ‘X’ symbols may be 1 in 1000, and accordingly the occurrence of five ‘X’ symbols could be set as the benchmark for the first machine. In a second gaming machine, however, the probability of obtaining five ‘Y’ symbols may be 1 in 1000 leading to the occurrence of five ‘Y’ symbols being set as the bench mark for the second machine.
  • Alternatively, and referring to a benchmark related to a particular amount or value, a benchmark at a casino may be the value at the 90th percentile of the amount won by all players at that casino, or across multiple casinos, which have had their game activity tracked, either over all time or over some shorter period of time, for example over the last six months.
  • Further alternatively, benchmarks may be calculated with reference to the activities of a predefined group, for example a group of friends or colleagues. The group may be formed through a registration process, and entered into the database 5 through the controller 3 using the administrator 6 or another input device. A possible advantage of calculating benchmarks with reference to certain predetermined groups (such as a hall of fame) may be that any additional prizes that are made available to hall of fame winners in that group can be balanced by a reduced payout ratio when the players play the individual gaming machines 1, which means that the total average payout ratio may be maintained at the required level. This may allow more frequent awards to be allocated to members of a particular group such as the hall of fame than if the casino is offering additional awards from its revenue.
  • In one embodiment therefore, at least one benchmark is variable, depending on the historical game activity of games played on the gaming machines 1. This may allow a gaming venue operator to set a fixed number of players that will be deemed to exceed the benchmark at any given time, limiting the number of players that receive the features associated with exceeding the benchmark through monitored play. When a player exceeds or satisfies the benchmark, a time limit may be set on the time that they can occupy the group associated with having exceeded or satisfied the benchmark (e.g. the hall of fame). The time limit may be set with reference to the time spent in the group (such as the hall of fame), for example three days, or may be set with reference to another variable, such as number of monitored game plays by all players. The player may therefore exit the hall of fame by either being replaced by other players that exceed the threshold, or by the time limit. In one embodiment, gaming system may store a value when a player exceeds the benchmark, that value being used to determine the benchmark and decreasing in value over time.
  • In one embodiment, a single benchmark is provided and if the benchmark is exceeded, then the controller 3 classifies the player identity information as belonging to the hall of fame and stores this in memory, suitably in the database 5. In addition to evaluating whether a player has exceeded the benchmark and therefore belongs in the hall or fame or not, the controller 3 may also be configured to rank players within the hall of fame. Player rankings may be based on any number of player characteristics, for example the extent to which a player has exceeded the benchmark, and as will be appreciated may be a relatively volatile ladder with players moving up and down the rankings and into and out of the hall of fame.
  • In an alternative embodiment (or in addition to the previous embodiment) the controller 3 may provide several benchmarks and group players according to those benchmarks. For example, instead of having a single benchmark against which player characteristics are evaluated the game controller 3 may utilize multiple benchmarks, with each successive benchmark being more difficult to exceed (i.e. based on a less probable outcome) than the previous benchmark. By way of example, the game controller 3 could be provided with four benchmarks, each associated with a different group.
  • Any player exceeding the first benchmark would become a member of the first (e.g. “Bronze”) group; any player exceeding the second benchmark would become a member of the second (e.g. “Silver”) group; any player exceeding the third benchmark would become a member of the third (e.g. “Gold”) group; and any player exceeding the fourth benchmark would become a member of the second (e.g. “Platinum”) group. Each different group could be associated with different advantages and/or features as discussed above. The “top” (i.e. Platinum) group may be associated with the hall of fame as described above. Alternatively, membership of the hall of fame may be determined with reference to an alternative benchmark and be independent to membership of other groups.
  • In addition to grouping the players the game controller 3 could also be configured to rank players within those groups as also discussed above.
  • The controller 3 may also be configured to allow a player to pay for (e.g. substitute credits) a particular ranking or group membership.
  • Players that enter player identity information at a gaming machine 1 that is classified as belonging to a particular ranking or group (such as the hall of fame) may be offered additional features and/or advantages that are not available to other players. For example, the additional features may be any one or combination of:
      • a) Particular displays, sounds or other stimuli that announce the arrival of a hall of fame player at a particular location, for example at a gaming machine, or upon entry to a casino.
      • b) Advertisement of the players that have entered a particular group (such as the hall of fame) or exceeded a certain ranking, for example by displaying changes in the hall of fame on gaming machines or on large displays on the casino floor, publishing a list of hall of fame members in a newsletter, on an internet site or otherwise.
      • c) Access to special tournaments that are offered, for example, only to players of a certain ranking or who are members of a certain group (e.g. the hall of fame)
      • d) Gaming machines may have special greetings, messages or other stimuli for players of certain rankings or who are members of certain groups (e.g. hall of fame members). The messages may include messages based on personal data entered when the player registered for a player identification.
      • e) Where the gaming system comprises avatars for the players, a player that reaches a certain ranking or grouping (such as the hall of fame) may be provided with additional attributes. For example, the attributes may make the avatar stand out, be more powerful and/or more rapidly accrue bonus points for winnings, either by coming faster or in larger quantities. As an alternative example, in the four group example defined above, the color of a player attribute may be set to the color of the group to which the player belongs.
      • f) Some competitions or draws offered by the Casino may only be accessible by players of a certain ranking or who are members of a certain group (e.g. the hall of fame).
      • g) Players of a certain ranking or who are members of a particular group (such as the hall of fame) may be able to use a gaming machine 1 to access, Via the controller 3, certain services or information on the internet.
      • h) Players may be provided with advantages in accordance with their ranking and/or grouping. For example, higher ranking or grouped players may be provided with a greater number of credits when entering a tournament than those of a lower ranking or group. Alternatively (or additionally), higher ranking players may be provided with additional special symbols (such as wild symbols) with which to play a tournament than lower ranking or grouped players.
  • The additional features may be invoked either automatically by the controller 3 or by another device that is in communication with the controller 3 (including a gaming machine 1) to perform a certain action, or may be invoked manually, with the controller 3 providing a display or printout of players above a certain raking or who are members of a particular group (such as the hall of fame) that can be used by an employee of a casino to provide special features to such players.
  • In addition to identifying themselves at gaming machines, players may also identify themselves at other locations or events. An example may be on the player's entrance to or exit from the casino, the purchase of items at a bar or restaurant, at lifts, at doors to particular rooms or elsewhere. This enables a casino to offer a wide range of special features to players depending on their ranking or group (for example whether the player is a hall of fame member). For example, special attention may be placed on highly ranked or grouped players as they enter and exit the casino, a discount may be available at the bar or restaurant and access to particular floors or rooms may be provided. To accommodate this, readers 10 may be located throughout the casino in addition to at the gaming machines 1. The readers 10 may communicate player identity information to the controller 3, which sends back a signal indicating the ranking and/or group membership of the player.
  • Where the ranking and/or group membership of players are to be advertised, the controller 3 may, for example output a list of the current hall of fame members, the current members of the top group, or (for example) the ten highest ranked players. This list can then be used for any advertisement.
  • The controller 3 may also include a tournament game controller, which may be a dedicated tournament game server. A tournament is a common game played between a plurality of gaming machines, and players in a tournament often play in competition with each other. A tournament may be triggered by a trigger event, which may be based on information received at the controller 3, such as accumulative wagers on all gaming machines 1 that communicate with the controller 3, or based on activities at the gaming machine 1, for example the occurrence of a particular combination of symbols in a spinning reel game.
  • A tournament may be able to be participated in only at gaming machines 1 that have a player of a particular rank or higher, or who is a member of a particular group, playing at them. The ranking or group may be taken from within a predefined group of players (i.e. friends or colleagues playing together or wishing to compare their gaming activities), or may be an inter-group tournament in which the top player or players from each group or a selection of groups are eligible to enter the tournament, or may be open to any player that has achieved a certain rank or membership of a particular group. Alternatively a tournament may be able to be participated in only at gaming machines 1 that have players that are having their game play tracked for the purposes of possible entry in the hall of fame or other group. The controller 3 may control several different types of tournament with different entry criteria.
  • The game controller 3 may also (or alternatively) be configured to provide tournament players of a particular rank or group membership with advantages over players of a lower rank or group membership or no rank or group membership. For example, and referring to the above example:
      • members of the “Platinum” group may be provided with 200 extra credits for tournament play;
      • members of the “Gold” group may be provided with 150 extra credits for tournament play;
      • members of the “Silver” group may be provided with 100 extra credits for tournament play;
      • members of the “Bronze” group may be provided with 50 extra credits for tournament play; and
      • players who are not members of any group are not provided with any additional credits for tournament play.
  • As an alternative (or additional) advantage:
      • the reel strips of gaming machines operated by members of the “Platinum” group may be provided with 4 additional “wild” symbols for tournament play;
      • the reel strips of gaming machines operated by members of the “Platinum” group may be provided with 3 additional “wild” symbols for tournament play;
      • the reel strips of gaming machines operated by members of the “Platinum” group may be provided with 2 additional “wild” symbols for tournament play;
      • the reel strips of gaming machines operated by members of the “Platinum” group may be provided with 1 additional “wild” symbols for tournament play; and
      • the reel strips of gaming machines operated by players who are not members of any group are not provided with any additional “wild” symbols for tournament play.
  • Those skilled in the relevant arts will appreciate that the tournament controller 3A may be included within the controller 3, or may be a separate device from the controller 3, in which case the controller 3 may communicate with the separate tournament controller to indicate to the tournament controller, as required, the rankings and/or groupings of players, and whether any player is currently hall of fame members.
  • Unless the characteristics that are compared to the benchmark are limited in time to the immediate past, for example, the past few hours, the chances of all or even most of the people who are in a particular group (such as the hall of fame) being in the casino at the same time is small. However, players in a particular group (such as the hall of fame) may wish to play against each other in a tournament. The gaming system 100, 101 may allow players to challenge each other to a tournament, with their respective parts in the tournament being played at different times. The tournament may, for example, involve attempting to maximize winnings from a game over a period of time, for example five minutes. The controller 3 records the result from the first player and compares that with the result from the second player, whenever that occurs, and then notifies each player of the result when it can. The notification may be provided on a gaming machine 1 the next time the player inserts their identification card or ticket, or may be provided through the connection to the Internet, by a short message service (SMS) message sent over a cellular network or otherwise.
  • The ability to challenge other players may be reserved for players of a particular ranking or who have achieved membership of a particular group and/or special prizes may be offered for the winners of tournaments involving players of a particular ranking or who have achieved membership of a particular group. Where players were able to challenge each other, the controller 3 may display the current members of a particular group or above a particular ranking to the challenging player on the primary display 7 or secondary display 8 and allow the player to select which player to challenge.
  • In one embodiment of the present invention, the controller 3 could produce a draw, of say the top eight members of a particular group (such as the hall of fame), where the top member plays the eighth member in a first tournament, the second player plays the seventh member in a second tournament, the third player plays the sixth in third tournament and the fourth plays the fifth in a fourth tournament. The winners of the first and third tournaments could then play against each other, with the winner of that tournament playing the winner of a tournament between the winners of the second and fourth tournaments to determine an overall winner.
  • Within a particular group such as a hall of fame may be subsets of players. For example the top ten hall of fame members may be offered certain features, while the 11th to 20th placed hall of fame members may be offered other features, or the same features but with a reduced award or other aspect of value of the feature. For example, separate tournaments may be run for the top ten members and the 11th to 20th placed members, with different prizes being awarded to the winners.
  • FIG. 3 shows a flow chart of an example series of steps that may be performed by the gaming system 100, 101 in accordance with certain embodiments of the present invention. Those skilled in the relevant arts will appreciate that the steps in the flow chart may be implemented in software, in hardware or in a combination of software and hardware. Those skilled in the relevant arts will also appreciate that many of the processes attributed to specific computational components in the gaming system 100, 101 could be performed by alternate computational components and some processes may be shared between computational components.
  • In step A, the gaming system 100, 101 determines whether a player has identified themselves. This step may be performed by the gaming machines 1 using the reader 10 as described herein above. Alternatively a player may use the user interface 9 to identify themselves, for example through entering a username and password. The gaming machine 1 may send the identity information to the controller 3 for verification with records held the in the database 5 before the gaming system 100, 101 is permitted to proceed to step B.
  • If the player does not identify themselves, then the gaming machine 1 determines if the player wants to play a game on the gaming machine (step J) and if so, allows play without monitoring the game play (step K). The gaming machine 1 may constantly check for the player identifying themselves, as indicated by the loop of steps A, J and K. If a player who has not identified themselves ceases playing the game, the process ends.
  • Once a player has been identified, the identity information is sent from the gaming machine 1 to the controller 3, which compares this to the identity information of any groups (such as the current hall of fame members). If there is a match, any special features that the controller has control over are invoked or activated (step C), optionally first requesting confirmation from the player that they wish to take advantage of the special features. Special features that may be invoked or activated directly by the controller 3 include, for example, the display of particular images, messages or the play of particular sounds on the gaming machine 1, providing access to special tournaments, adding attributes to an avatar, offering, through the gaming machine 1 or otherwise entry into a competition or draw, and providing other features through one or more other devices that are in communication with the controller 3.
  • The gaming system 100, 101 may offer each player the choice to have their game play monitored (step D). This may add a further skill component, or at least a perceived skill component, by effectively asking players to predict when their game play may make them eligible for a particular group (such as the hall of fame). The player may select a touch pad on the display 7 of a gaming machine 1 to commence and cease the monitoring of game play.
  • The gaming system 100, 101 may constantly check for a player indicating that they wish to change from having their game play monitored to unmonitored and may monitor for the player not wanting to continue playing a game, as indicated by steps D and E and the return path to steps D and E from steps H and I, which are described herein below.
  • In step F the game play of the player at the gaming machine 1 is monitored and sent to the controller 3, either in real time, or in batches, or at the end of the current session of game play. The gaming machine 1 may send raw data or may process the data prior to sending it to the controller 3. If a benchmark is calculated based on game play by the player at the gaming machine 1 or based on game play by any player at the gaming machine 1, then data relating to the game play is used by the controller to recalculate that benchmark. Historical records may be kept in the database 5 of the game play, which may be used to audit operation of the gaming system 100, 101.
  • When the characteristics of game play that are to be compared with a benchmark can be accumulated across multiple playing sessions, the controller stores the historical data for the player in the database 5 and updates this data with new data received as a result of step F.
  • The controller 3 then compares the game data with the one or more benchmarks (step G), determines if a benchmark has been exceeded (step H) and if so, records the player identity information as being in any group associated with that benchmark (e.g. the hall of fame). Where the benchmark relates to the relative performance of players, the benchmark may be the lowest performing player currently in a particular group such as the hall of fame (step I). Although not shown in the flow chart of FIG. 3, the gaming system 100, 101 may automatically invoke or revoke the special features the moment a player joins a group (such as the hall of fame) or is no longer a member of a group (such as the hall fame) respectively.
  • Where in the foregoing description reference has been made to specific integers or components having known equivalents, then those equivalents are hereby incorporated herein as if individually set forth.
  • Those skilled in the relevant arts will appreciate that numerous modifications and additions may be made to the embodiments of the invention herein described without departing from the scope of the present invention.
  • It will be understood that the invention disclosed and defined in this specification extends to all alternative combinations of two or more of the individual features mentioned or evident from the text or drawings. All of these different combinations constitute various alternative aspects of the invention.

Claims (30)

1. A gaming system comprising:
at least one gaming machine providing a wagering game;
a readable and writable computer memory;
a monitor in electronic communication with the at least one gaming machine and the computer memory;
a user interface through which a player can input identity information;
wherein the monitor receives data relating to game play on said at least one gaming machine and compares the received data to at least one benchmark, wherein if the received data indicates that the at least one benchmark has been exceeded, then the monitor records in the computer memory data indicating that the benchmark has been exceeded and associates this with the identity information, and
wherein the gaming system makes a feature available to a player who has been recorded in the computer memory as having exceeded the benchmark.
2. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the benchmark is calculated dependent on game play across a plurality of machines, with the plurality of machines being one of:
i) the gaming machines being played by a predefined group of players;
ii) a predefined group of gaming machines at which players have input identity information;
iii) all gaming machines over one or more locations at which players have input identity information.
3. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein at least one benchmark is related to a value or occurrence of a particular event.
4. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the gaming system provides players with a choice as to whether their game play is monitored.
5. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the feature is selected from the group comprising:
fanfare on identification of the player at a location,
advertisement of the player as having exceeded a benchmark,
access to special tournaments,
display of special greetings,
messages or other stimuli at gaming machines,
addition of attributes to an avatar of the player,
eligibility to enter one or more competitions or draws, and
provision of one or more player advantages.
6. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the data that is related to game play and which is compared to a benchmark is calculated over a predetermined or determinable period of time, or over a predetermined number of game plays.
7. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the monitor compares the received data to a plurality of benchmarks and groups players according to which of the plurality of benchmarks a player has exceeded.
8. The gaming system of claim 7 wherein the plurality of benchmarks comprises a sequence of benchmarks with each benchmark more difficult to exceed than the previous benchmark.
9. The gaming system of claim 1, wherein the gaming system is operable to rank players according to the extent to which they have exceeded a particular benchmark.
10. The gaming system of claim 9, wherein the gaming system is operable to offer a tournament and to restrict entry to the tournament to players having at least one of a minimum rank and/or to players of a particular group.
11. The gaming system of claim 7, wherein the gaming system comprises a tournament controller and is operable to allow a player to challenge a player to a tournament and wherein the ability to challenge and/or be challenged is limited to players of a certain grouping.
12. The gaming system of claim 9, wherein the gaming system comprises a tournament controller and is operable to allow a player to challenge a player to a tournament and wherein the ability to challenge and/or be challenged is limited to players above a certain ranking.
13. The gaming system of claim 11, wherein the gaming system is operable to provide at least one tournament player with an advantage, the advantage determined according to the grouping of the tournament player.
14. The gaming system of claim 12, wherein the gaming system is operable to provide at least one tournament player with an advantage, the advantage determined according to the ranking of the tournament player.
15. The gaming system of claim 13, wherein higher grouped players are provided with greater advantages than lower grouped players.
16. The gaming system of claim 14, wherein higher ranking players are provided with greater advantages than lower ranking or grouped players.
17. The gaming system of claim 15, wherein the advantage relates to the number of credits a player begins the tournament with.
18. The gaming system of claim 16, wherein the advantage relates to the number of credits a player begins the tournament with.
19. A method of operating a gaming machine at which a wagering game may be played and at which a player may provide identifying information, said method comprising monitoring game play on the gaming machine to receive data, and comparing the received data to a benchmark, recording when the benchmark has been exceeded when identifying information has been provided and providing a feature to a player who has been recorded as having exceeded the benchmark.
20. The method of claim 19 further comprising computing the benchmark dependent on game play across a plurality of machines, with the plurality of machines being one of:
i) the gaming machines being played by a predefined group of players;
ii) a predefined group of gaming machines at which players have input identity information;
iii) all gaming machines over at least one location at which players have input identity information.
21. The method of claim 19, wherein the feature is selected from the group comprising: fanfare on the identification of the player at a location, advertisement of the player as having exceeded the benchmark, access to special tournaments, display of special greetings, messages or other stimuli at gaming machines, the addition or alteration of attributes to an avatar of the player, and eligibility to enter one or more competitions or draws.
22. The method of claim 19 further comprising offering a tournament between players that have exceeded the benchmark and allowing a player to select what other player to play in the tournament.
23. The method of claim 19, wherein ability to challenge and/or be challenged is limited to players that have exceeded the benchmark.
24. A gaming system comprising:
at least one gaming machine providing a wagering game;
readable and writable computer memory;
a monitor in electronic communication with the at least one gaming machine and the computer memory;
a user interface through which a player can input identity information;
wherein the monitor receives data relating to game play on said at least one gaming machine and compares the received data to at least one benchmark, wherein if the received data indicates that the at least one benchmark has been exceeded, then the monitor records in the computer memory data indicating that the benchmark has been exceeded and associates this with the identity information, and
wherein the gaming system further comprises at least one display controlled by a controller in communication with the monitor and the controller causes the display to display information identifying each player that has exceeded one of the benchmarks.
25. The gaming system of claim 24, wherein the display information associated with exceeding a particular benchmark is different to the display information associated with exceeding any other benchmark.
26. A method of operating a gaming system, the method comprising monitoring play of at least one wagering game by a plurality of players on at least one gaming machine, comparing the game play to a benchmark, and displaying on a display information identifying each player that has exceeded the benchmark.
27. A gaming system comprising:
at least one gaming machine providing a wagering game;
readable and writable computer memory;
a monitor in electronic communication with the at least one gaming machine and the computer memory;
a user interface through which a player can input identity information;
wherein the monitor receives data relating to game play on said at least one gaming machine and compares the received data to at least one benchmark, wherein if the received data indicates that the at least one benchmark has been exceeded, then the monitor records in the computer memory data indicating that the benchmark has been exceeded and associates this with the identity information, wherein the benchmark is determined dependent on historical records of game play on the at least one gaming machine.
28. A method of operating a gaming system, the method comprising monitoring play of at least one wagering game by a plurality of players on at least one gaming machine, comparing the game play to a benchmark, and providing at least one feature to each player whose monitored game play exceeds the benchmark, wherein the benchmark is determined dependent on historical records of game play on the at least one gaming machine.
29. Computer software containing instructions to cause a computer controller to operate in accordance with claim 1.
30. Computer readable media containing instructions to cause a computer controller to operate in accordance with claim 1.
US11/851,141 2006-09-06 2007-09-06 Gaming system including a player ranking function Abandoned US20080214308A1 (en)

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