US20090191931A1 - Skill crane games and other amusement vending machines having display devices and other interactive features - Google Patents

Skill crane games and other amusement vending machines having display devices and other interactive features Download PDF

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Publication number
US20090191931A1
US20090191931A1 US12/200,515 US20051508A US2009191931A1 US 20090191931 A1 US20090191931 A1 US 20090191931A1 US 20051508 A US20051508 A US 20051508A US 2009191931 A1 US2009191931 A1 US 2009191931A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
prize
game
user
player
crane game
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Abandoned
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US12/200,515
Inventor
Daniel W. Peck
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Coinstar Entertainment Services Inc
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Coinstar Entertainment Services Inc
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Priority to US96841007P priority Critical
Application filed by Coinstar Entertainment Services Inc filed Critical Coinstar Entertainment Services Inc
Priority to US12/200,515 priority patent/US20090191931A1/en
Assigned to COINSTAR, INC. reassignment COINSTAR, INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: PECK, DANIEL W.
Assigned to COINSTAR ENTERTAINMENT SERVICES INC. reassignment COINSTAR ENTERTAINMENT SERVICES INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: COINSTAR, INC.
Publication of US20090191931A1 publication Critical patent/US20090191931A1/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
    • G07F17/3286Type of games
    • G07F17/3295Games involving skill, e.g. dexterity, memory, thinking
    • 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
    • G07F17/3202Hardware aspects of a gaming system, e.g. components, construction, architecture thereof
    • 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
    • G07F17/3286Type of games
    • G07F17/3297Fairground games, e.g. Tivoli, coin pusher machines, cranes

Abstract

Skill crane games and other amusement vending machines having display devices and other interactive features to enhance game play are disclosed herein. A skill crane game configured in accordance with one embodiment includes at least one prize positioned within a transparent enclosure. The skill crane game further includes a user-operated joystick operably coupled to a prize selecting device and a display device, such as a video screen, positioned within the enclosure. In one embodiment, the skill crane game allows a player to select a prize from multiple prizes displayed on the video screen, and the prize selecting device then obtains the prize for the player. In another embodiment, the skill crane game allows the player to play a video game on the video screen before attempting to obtain a prize with the prize selecting device. If the player wins the video game, the skill crane game can award prizes, such as bonus time, that affect the subsequent attempt to obtain a prize.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
  • This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/968,410 filed Aug. 28, 2007, entitled “SKILL CRANE GAMES AND OTHER AMUSEMENT VENDING MACHINES HAVING DISPLAY DEVICES AND OTHER INTERACTIVE FEATURES,” which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
  • TECHNICAL FIELD
  • The following disclosure relates generally to skill crane games and other amusement vending machines.
  • BACKGROUND
  • Skill crane games and other amusement vending machines are typically found in retail locations that children frequent. Such locations often include grocery stores, theme restaurants, game arcades, and the like. U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,718,667 and 5,711,530 describe conventional skill crane games in detail. Other skill crane games and related systems are disclosed in pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/009,371, which was filed on Dec. 10, 2004, and is entitled “SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR COLLECTING VEND DATA FROM, AND EXCHANGING INFORMATION WITH, VENDING MACHINES AND OTHER DEVICES,” and pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/282,412, which was filed on Nov. 18, 2005, and is entitled “SKILL CRANES AND OTHER AMUSEMENT VENDING MACHINES HAVING VISUAL TARGETING SYSTEMS.” U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,718,667 and 5,711,530, and U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 11/009,371 and 11/282,412, are incorporated into the present patent application in their entireties by reference.
  • Conventional skill crane games typically include a cabinet that holds a plurality of prizes that are viewable through a transparent enclosure. A movable claw or other grasping device is positioned inside the cabinet, and is operably connected to a joystick mounted on the outside of the cabinet. After inserting the required amount of money, the player attempts to grab a prize by moving the open claw into position with the joystick and releasing it. If the player has skillfully positioned the claw over the desired prize, then the claw will descend onto the prize and grasp it. The claw, without player input, then transfers the prize to an outlet chute from which the player can retrieve the prize.
  • Conventional skill crane games give the player a single opportunity to drop the claw over a desired prize in an attempt to grasp a prize. If the player is unsuccessful, then the player must insert additional money for continued attempts. Other skill crane games limit the amount of time the player has to grab a prize. If the player does not grab a prize in the given amount of time, then the player must insert more money into the machine for continued play. Still other skill crane games give the player multiple opportunities to win a prize by permitting the player to continue playing until the claw has grasped a prize.
  • SUMMARY
  • This summary is provided for the benefit of the reader only, and is not intended to limit the invention as set forth by the claims.
  • The present disclosure is directed generally to skill crane games having display devices and other interactive features to enhance the game-playing experience. A skill crane game (“crane game”) configured in accordance with one aspect of the invention includes at least one prize positioned within a transparent enclosure. The crane game further includes a prize selecting device that can be moved within the enclosure with a joystick, and a display device operably coupled to the joystick and the prize selecting device. In one embodiment, the crane game allows a player to select from among multiple prizes displayed on the display device. The prize selecting device then obtains the prize for the player.
  • In another aspect of the invention, the display device is a video screen and the crane game allows the player to play a video game that is displayed on the video screen before attempting to obtain a prize with the prize selecting device. If the player wins the video game, the crane game can award prizes, such as bonus time, that affect the player's subsequent attempt to obtain a prize.
  • A crane game configured in accordance with another aspect of the invention includes a first video camera attached to the prize selecting device and a second video camera attached to the cabinet. The first video camera can record images and/or video of prizes that can be displayed on the displayed device to assist the player in obtaining a prize. The second video camera can record images and/or video of the player that can also be displayed on the display device. The video features described above can increase player enjoyment, thereby encouraging repeat play of the skill crane game.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a partially schematic isometric view of a crane game configured in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.
  • FIGS. 2A and 2B illustrate a process flow for game play of a crane game configured in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 3 is an image of a portion of the crane game of FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 4 is another image of a portion of the crane game of FIG. 1.
  • FIGS. 5A-5C are a series of images of a portion of the crane game of FIG. 1.
  • FIGS. 6A-6D are another series of images of portions of the crane game of FIG. 1.
  • FIGS. 7A and 7B are additional images of portions of the crane game of FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 8 is an additional image of a portion of the crane game of FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 9 is an isometric view of a portion of the prize selecting device illustrated in the crane game of FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 10 is an isometric view of a motor assembly for operating the prize selecting device of FIG. 9.
  • FIG. 11 illustrates side, profile, isometric and top views of the claw gripping assemblies of the prize selecting device of FIG. 9.
  • FIG. 12 is a partially schematic isometric view of a crane game configured in accordance with another embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 13 is a schematic view of a machine controller for use in a crane game configured in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • The following disclosure describes various embodiments of crane games and other amusement vending machines having display devices and other interactive features. Certain details are set forth in the following description and in FIGS. 1-13 to provide a thorough understanding of various embodiments of the invention. Other details describing well-known structures and systems often associated with crane games and other amusement vending machines are not set forth below, however, to avoid unnecessarily obscuring the description of the various embodiments of the invention.
  • Many of the details, dimensions, angles and other features shown in the Figures are merely illustrative of particular embodiments of the invention. Accordingly, other embodiments can have other details, dimensions, angles and features without departing from the spirit or scope of the present invention. Furthermore, additional embodiments of the invention can be practiced without several of the details described below.
  • In the Figures, identical reference numbers identify identical or at least generally similar elements. To facilitate the discussion of any particular element, the most significant digit or digits of any reference number, with the exception of the reference numbers of FIGS. 9-11, refers to the Figure in which that element is first introduced. For example, element 110 is first introduced and discussed with reference to FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 1 is a partially schematic isometric view of a crane game 100 having display devices configured in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. In this embodiment, the display devices include a video screen 104. The crane game 100 includes a joystick 120 operably coupled to a prize selecting device 101. The crane game 100 also includes a cabinet 128 that holds a plurality of prizes 102 (e.g., a plurality of stuffed toy animals, capsulated items, jewelry, watches, candy, etc.) that can be viewed through a transparent enclosure 134. One or more coin slots 106 and a bill acceptor 108 are located on the exterior of the cabinet 128; both are operably connected to a machine controller 140 (shown schematically). Additionally or alternatively, the crane game 100 can include other components that receive money and/or credit, such as a credit card or debit card reader, a bar code reader, a radio frequency device, or a coupon, token or credit acceptance device. Those of ordinary skill in the art will understand that there are numerous methods of receiving money and/or credit from a player and that the crane game 100 can include various components that use these methods.
  • In one embodiment, to commence play, a player inserts the required amount of money into the coin slots 106 and/or the bill acceptor 108. Upon receiving the money, the machine controller 140 confirms payment and activates the joystick 120 and the prize selecting device 101. The prize selecting device 101 includes a claw 110 for picking up one or more of the prizes 102. The player's movement of the joystick 120 in a given direction causes the prize selecting device 101 to move in a corresponding direction. The claw 110 includes a plurality of pivotable prongs 112 (identified individually as prongs 112 a-c). Depressing an actuator or button 122 on the joystick 120 can cause the claw 110 to drop. When downward motion of the claw 110 stops, the prongs 112 can automatically close on one or more of the prizes 102 in its path. Alternatively, the player can use another control (not shown) to cause the prongs 112 to close or open or to cause the prize selecting device 101 to perform other movements (e.g., rotate, tilt, vertically telescope, etc.) If the claw 110 grasps one of the prizes 102, the player can then move the prize selecting device 101 to the area above a chute 116, at which point the player can depress the button 122 to open the prongs 112 and release the prize 102. The player can then retrieve the prize 102 from the chute 116 via an access door 118.
  • In one aspect of this embodiment, the crane game 100 also includes a first video camera 130 carried by the prize selecting device 101, and a second video camera 132 located on the exterior of the cabinet 128. The video screen 104 and the first and second video cameras 130, 132 can be operably connected to the machine controller 140. As described in greater detail below with reference to, e.g., FIGS. 2-8, the video screen 104 adds functionality to the crane game 100, in part by increasing the number of game play options available to the player. For example, when the player is attempting to obtain one of the prizes 102 with the prize selecting device 101, the first video camera 130 can record images and/or video that can be displayed on the video screen 104 to provide the player with a top-down or “bomber-cam” view of the prizes 102. These images and/or video can thus assist the player in winning one or more prizes 102. Similarly, the second video camera 132 can record images and/or video of the player and surroundings during game play, thus providing a “player-cam” view during game play. Showing images and/or video from the first and second video cameras 130, 132 on the video screen 104 can enhance enjoyment of the crane game 100, thereby encouraging repeat play.
  • The crane game 100 can further include an electronic combination lock 124 and a printer 126 that are both operably connected to the machine controller 140. The electronic combination lock 124 includes a keypad that can be used to enter a numerical and/or alphabetical combination required to access the internal components of the crane game 100. As discussed below with reference to FIG. 13, in one embodiment the numerical and/or alphabetical combination can be remotely changed by an administrator or operator of the crane game 100. The printer 126 can print coupons, receipts, promotions, bar codes, advertisements and/or other information for the player and/or passersby.
  • The machine controller 140 can control the functions of the components (e.g., the prize selecting device 101, the joystick 120, the first and second video cameras 130, 132, the video screen 104, the monetary input devices 106 and 108, the electronic combination lock 124, and the printer 126) to which it is operably connected. The machine controller 140 can receive power via a cord connected to a standard facility outlet (not shown). In addition, the crane game 100 can also include one or more batteries to provide back-up power in the event that facility power becomes temporarily unavailable. The machine controller 140 can also be connected to a network, such as the Internet, intranet, local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), or other network, via a wired or wireless connection. The machine controller 140 and its interactions with the other components of the crane game 100 are discussed in more detail below with reference to, e.g., FIG. 13.
  • FIGS. 2A and 2B illustrate a process flow 200 for controlling a crane game during game play in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. For purposes of illustration, the process flow 200 is described below in the context of the crane game 100 of FIG. 1, a portion of which is depicted in FIG. 3. Before game play commences, the video screen 104 can display information, promotional messages, and/or advertisements to players, prospective players, and/or passersby. For example, the video screen 104 can display promotions to entice prospective players to play the crane game 100. As another example, the video screen 104 can display advertisements regarding goods sold and/or services provided by the location in which the crane game 100 is placed. As a further example, the video screen 104 can display information regarding local cultural, tourist or historic attractions, as well as other types of information. The video screen 104 can also display such information during breaks in game play. Such displays can include a series of information, promotional messages, and/or advertisements that is played in a constant loop as well as information, promotional messages, and/or advertisements that change on a periodic or ad-hoc basis. As described below with reference to, e.g., FIG. 13, such information, promotional messages and/or advertisements can be provided to the crane game 100 over its network connection.
  • Returning to FIG. 2A, game play commences in block 202 when the player interacts with a controller, such as the joystick 120 and/or button 122. In block 204, the crane game 100 displays options to the player on the video screen 104. In one embodiment, depicted in FIG. 4, two options 405 are displayed to the player. The first option 405 a is to “Buy A Toy” and the second option 405 b is to “Play Game.” The price of each option can also be displayed proximate to each option on the video screen 104 to permit the player to see the cost of each option before choosing. Alternatively or additionally, the crane game 100 can display the price of the toy on a different display device, such as a LED readout, proximate to the toy. This further permits the player to see the price of the toy before selecting an option. As described in greater detail below, the game play of the crane game 100 is different depending upon which option the player selects. In other embodiments, the video screen 104 can display more than two choices to the player, and the process flow 200 can accordingly contain more than the two branches shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B.
  • In block 206, the player makes a selection of one of the two options 405 a or 405 b and the crane game 100 receives the player's selection. The player can make a selection by moving the joystick 120 to manipulate a cursor or other selecting object (not shown) on the video screen 104 and by pressing the button 122. In block 208, the crane game 100 determines whether the player has selected the first choice “Buy A Toy” or the second choice “Play Game.” The process flow 200 continues at either branch A or branch B, depending upon which option the player selected.
  • If the player has selected the first choice “Buy A Toy” 405 a, the crane game 100 displays the price of the toy (e.g., $10) on the video screen 104. After the player has inserted the required amount of money and/or credit, such as by depositing bills and/or coins into the coin slots 106 and/or the bill acceptor 108, the process flow 200 proceeds to block 210 of branch A, as shown in FIG. 2B. In block 210, the crane game 100 displays the options available to the player. FIG. 5A depicts the display of three options on the video screen 104, two of which are toy choices. A first option 505 a corresponds to the selection of a predetermined toy A, shown as toy 502 a. A second option 505 b corresponds to the selection of a predetermined toy B, shown as toy 502 b. The third option, 505 c, can allow the player to return to the screen displaying the “Buy A Toy” 405 a or “Play Game” 405 b choices shown in FIG. 4.
  • In block 212 of FIG. 2B, the crane game 100 receives the player's selection of a toy, which can be either toy 502 a or toy 502 b. FIG. 5B illustrates the selection of toy 502 b. In block 214 of FIG. 2, the crane game 100 activates the prize selecting device 101. Because the positions of toys 502 a and 502 b are predetermined and thus known to the crane game 100, the prize selecting device 101 can automatically move to the position corresponding to the toy 502 selected by the player. In block 216, the prize selecting device 101 grabs the selected toy 502. The prize selecting device 101 can do this by opening its claw 110, descending over the toy 502, and closing the claw 110 to grasp the toy 502. FIG. 5C illustrates the prize selecting device 101 after it has grasped the toy 502 b. In block 218, the prize selecting device 101 automatically returns to the position above the chute 116. In block 220, the claw 110 of the prize selecting device 101 opens to release the toy 502 b into the chute 116, where it can be retrieved by the player via the access door 118. In block 222, the crane game 100 deactivates the prize selecting device 101. In block 224, the crane game displays a message on the video screen 104 to signal the end of game play, such as the message 510 shown in FIG. 5C thanking the player for having played the crane game 100.
  • If the player selected the “Play Game” option 405 b instead of the “Buy a Toy” option 405 a in block 208 of FIG. 2A, the crane game 100 can display the price of playing the video game (e.g., $1) on the video screen 104. After the player has inserted the required amount of money and/or credit, the crane game 100 increments the number of credits (i.e., opportunities to play) available to the player. The process flow 200 then proceeds to block 226 of branch B, shown in FIG. 2B. FIG. 6A depicts the video screen 104 after the player has selected the “Play Game” option 405 b. The video screen 104 can display one or more game choices for selection by the player. Alternatively, the crane game 100 can proceed straight to game play after the selection of the “Play Game” option 405 b. In one embodiment, the available games include a maze game in which the player has to navigate a maze to obtain a prize. The remaining blocks in the process flow 200 will be discussed in the context of this maze game embodiment. However, the crane game 100 is not limited to the maze game, and in other embodiments, the available games can include a paddle game, a falling-blocks puzzle game, a trivia game and/or a driving game. As described in the following paragraph, the available games can include tie-ins or other promotions to third parties. The crane game 100 can change the available games periodically, such as seasonally, or on an ad hoc basis. The crane game 100, or an administrator or operator, can also specify that each game is to be available for play a certain percentage of total plays. For example, if the available games include a maze game, a trivia game and a driving game, the maze game can be set to be available for 50%, the trivia game 25%, and the driving game 25%, of the total plays. As another example, a single game can be set to be available for 100% of the total plays, to the exclusion of the other games. This may be appropriate for a crane game 100 placed in a location patronized by persons whom the administrator or operator determines are likely to prefer playing that single game. The available games can also have varying difficulties. If the administrator or operator determines that an easier game is being played more frequently than other games, the administrator or operator can set the easier game to be available less frequently than the other games. Alternatively, the crane game 100 can randomly select a game from among the available games for the player to play. These configurations of available games are exemplary and accordingly those of ordinary skill in the art will understand that other configurations are possible.
  • In block 228 of FIG. 2B, the crane game 100 receives the player's selection of a game. In block 230, the crane game 100 activates the game and displays it on the video screen 104. FIG. 6B depicts the maze game, shown as reference number 605. The player plays the maze game 605 by manipulating the joystick 120 to cause an object 607 to navigate a maze 609 in an attempt to reach one of three prizes 610. In one embodiment, the three prizes include: 1) a five-second game time bonus 610 b; 2) a ten-second game time bonus 610 c; and 3) a free game, shown as credit 610 a. The remaining blocks in the process flow 200 will be discussed in the context of these prizes. However, in other embodiments, the maze game 605 can include other prizes, such as prizes that are directly or indirectly linked to third parties, such as sponsors or the location in which the crane game 100 is placed. For example, if the crane game 100 is placed in a facility where consumables are sold, the prizes can include a free or discounted consumable, such as a free or reduced-price soft drink. As a further example, the prizes can include free or discounted goods or services of a sponsor of the crane game 100. As a further example, the prizes can include a “super-charged” claw 110 that has a higher-than-normal strength to enable it to better grasp a prize 102. The maze game 605 is not limited to the aforementioned prizes, which can also be used in the other available games.
  • The video screen 104 also displays the player's remaining credits in region 615, the amount of time available to the player to navigate the maze 609 in region 620, and a “player-cam” display of the player, which can include images and/or video from the second video camera 132, in region 625. The player controls the object 607 with the joystick 120, and in block 232 of FIG. 2B the crane game 100 receives this input. In block 234, the crane game 100 determines whether the player has won the maze game 605. In this context, “winning” includes navigating the object 607 to one of the three prizes 610 before the expiration of the time displayed in region 620. In block 236, the crane game 100 displays a congratulatory message on the video screen 104 if the player has won.
  • Whether or not the player has won the maze game 605, branch B of the process flow 200 continues in block 238 where the crane game 100 activates the prize selecting device 101. However, when the player has won the maze game 605, the prize won can affect the subsequent crane game play. For example, it is well known in the art that some crane games limit the amount of time the player has to grab a prize 102. If the player has won a prize 610 in the maze game 605 (e.g., the five or ten-second game time bonus 610 b or 610 c), then the amount of time the player has to obtain a prize 102 with the prize selecting device 101 can be increased. Or, if the player has won the “free game” prize 610 a, then the crane game 100 can afford the player two chances to obtain a prize 102 with the prize selecting device 101. In this way, the video game play can affect the crane game play, which can thereby add to the excitement and enjoyment of the player.
  • In block 240, once the prize selecting device 101 has been activated, the crane game 100 receives player input for control of the prize selecting device 101. In block 242, the crane game 100 checks to see whether the time available to the player to obtain a prize 102 (including the bonus time) has expired. Before time expires, the player can attempt to obtain one or more prizes using the prize selecting device 101. For example, FIG. 6C depicts the video screen 104 after the prize selecting device 101 has been activated. The video screen 104 displays a label, “Grabbing a Toy!” in region 630 to indicate that the player is attempting to obtain a prize 102. The video screen also displays in region 635 images and/or video from the first video camera 130 (not shown) in a “bomber-cam” view. At the moment depicted in FIG. 6C, the prize selecting device 101 (and thus the video camera 130) is still directly above the chute 116. However, once the player causes the prize selecting device 101 to move away from the chute 116, images and/or video from the first video camera 130 displayed in region 635 can assist the player with positioning the prize selection device 101 over the desired prize 102. In region 620 the video screen 104 displays the amount of time available to the player to obtain a prize 102. The crane game 100 can also provide audio or other visual indications of time remaining, such as by an audio countdown. The facility can also use lights (e.g., rotating spotlights, glow lights, etc.) and/or music or other sound effects (e.g., vocal instructions, sounds of a claw opening and closing, etc.) to enhance the game play experience. As previously described, the video screen 104 displays in the “player-cam” region 625 images and/or video from the second video camera 132.
  • In block 244, the crane game 100 determines whether the player successfully obtained a prize 102. In this context, successfully obtaining a prize 102 includes picking up a prize 102 with the prize selecting device 101, moving the prize selecting device 101 to the area above the chute 116, and releasing the prize 102 such that it drops into the chute 116, all before time expires. Requiring the player to move the prize selecting device 101 back to the area above the chute 116 while clutching a prize 102 is one difference between the crane game 100 and conventional skill crane games, in which the player cedes control of the claw after an attempt to grasp a prize has been made. Thus, the player's techniques in controlling the prize selecting device 101 affect the likelihood of successfully obtaining a prize 102. This introduces a further element of the player's skill into the game play of the crane game 100. One advantage of this requirement is that by giving the player control over the prize selecting device 101, the player can feel engaged and entertained by the game play of the crane game 100, even if the player ultimately is not successful in obtaining a prize 102. FIG. 6D shows the crane game 100 after the player has manipulated the prize selecting device 101 to grasp a prize 102. On the video screen 104, images and/or video from the first video camera 130 displayed in the region 635 are obscured due to the close proximity of the first video camera 130 to the grasped prize 102.
  • In one embodiment, after the prize 102 has been grasped, the crane game 100 introduces obstacles (not shown in the figures) to make it more difficult for the player to return the prize selecting device 101 to the area above the chute 116. Such obstacles can include laser beams that the player has to avoid touching with the prize selecting device 101 and the grasped prize 102. If a laser beam is touched, then it can cause the claw 110 to open its prongs 112, thereby releasing the prize 102. Such obstacles can also include various devices that extend from the ceiling or other surfaces of the enclosure 134. The player can be required to avoid the obstacles in navigating the prize selecting device 101 and the grasped prize 102 to the area above the chute 116. Alternatively or additionally, the crane game 100 can introduce several waypoints, such as bases or lights, that the player has to touch with the prize selecting device 101 (or grasped prize 102) before returning to the area above the chute 116. The crane game 100 can offer the player an option to introduce such obstacles and/or waypoints in return for an incentive, such as lowering the price required to play the crane game 100, increasing the amount of time available to the player to obtain a prize 102, and/or allowing the player to attempt to obtain multiple prizes 102. The addition of such obstacles and/or waypoints can increase the difficulty of the crane game 100, thereby making it more challenging for the player and encouraging the player to play again to sharpen his or her skills.
  • In block 246, if the player has successfully obtained a prize 102 before time expires, game play ends and the crane game 100 displays a congratulatory message on the video screen 104. Additionally or alternatively, the crane game 100 can display on the video screen 104 recorded images and/or video (that have been stored by the crane game 100 as described with reference to, e.g., FIG. 13) from the first and second video cameras 130, 132. In one embodiment, if the player has not successfully obtained a prize 102 before time expires, the crane game 100 can offer the player the opportunity to purchase additional time (e.g., to buy an additional 30 seconds for a fixed price, such as $0.50). The crane game 100 can display this offer on the video screen 104. If the player does not avail himself or herself of this opportunity, the game play ends. Branch B of the process flow 200 then rejoins branch A in block 222, where the crane game 100 deactivates the prize selecting device 101. In block 224, a message is displayed on the video screen 104 to signal the end of game play. At this time, the crane game 100 can display information, promotional messages, advertisements and/or other information to players, prospective players, and/or passersby on the video screen 104.
  • If, in block 244, the player did not successfully obtain a prize 102, the crane game 100 can offer the player two options. The first option includes offering the player the opportunity to play the video game again. If the player chooses this option, upon depositing the required amount of money and/or credit, the player can play the video game and make a subsequent attempt to successfully obtain a prize 102, as described in branch B of the process flow 200. The second option includes offering the player the opportunity to purchase one of the predetermined toys 502. However, instead of offering the toys 502 at the full purchase price, the crane game 100 can decrement the full purchase price, to a pre-set floor level, by an amount based at least in part on the number of times the player has played the crane game 100 but not successfully obtained a prize 102, multiplied by the price to play the crane game 100. If the player accepts the offer, then the crane game 100 can obtain one of the predetermined toys 502 for the player as described in branch A of the process flow 200. For example, if each play costs $1 and the full purchase price of one of the toys 502 is $10, the crane game 100 can decrement the full purchase price by $1 for each time that the player has not successfully obtained a prize 102, to a pre-set floor level (e.g., $5). If the player has not succeeded three times, then the crane game 100 can offer the player the opportunity to purchase one of the predetermined toys 502 for $7. In this way, the crane game 100 can still afford the player the opportunity to obtain a toy 502 (or other prize), thereby avoiding potential frustration on the part of the player. If the player decides not to purchase one of the predetermined toys 502 at the decremented price, the crane game 100 can offer the reduced-price toys 502 to future players. Alternatively, the crane game 100 can stop offering the reduced-price toys 502 at the completion of game play (or after a pre-set period of time).
  • FIGS. 7A and 7B are additional images that depict advertisements displayed by the display devices of the crane game 100 of FIG. 1. As previously described, the video screen 104 in FIG. 7A can display information, promotional messages, and/or advertisements, such as advertisement 705, to players, prospective players, and/or passersby. The crane game 100 can also include additional display devices, such as projectors, that can also project information, promotional messages, and/or advertisements for display. In FIG. 7B, a projector (not shown) can project an advertisement, such as advertisement 710, that appears as a partially transparent, partially opaque display on a surface of the crane game 100. In one embodiment, the crane game 100 can include two projectors that each project a partially transparent, partially opaque display on either side of the video screen 104. In one embodiment, the crane game 100 can include one or more lights, such as spotlights (not shown), on the top of the cabinet 128. Stencils or other cut-outs (not shown) can be placed on the lights, thereby allowing the lights to project images of the cut-outs onto walls, ceilings or other surfaces. The projectors and/or lights can project these displays and/or images during periods when the crane game 100 is not being played so as to attract prospective players and/or to inform passersby. The projectors can also turn off these displays and/or images during periods when the crane game 100 is being played.
  • FIG. 8 is an additional image of a portion of the crane game of FIG. 1 depicting the second video camera 132. In this embodiment, the second video camera 132 is located within the interior of the enclosure 134 of the crane game 100. Specifically, the second video camera 132 is located in the right rear-ward corner of the crane game 100 and can record images and/or video of the player through the front portion of the enclosure 134. However, the second video camera 132 can be placed in various locations in, on or proximate to the crane game 100 to record images and/or video of players.
  • FIG. 9 is an isometric view of a claw assembly 910 configured in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The claw assembly 910 can be used with the prize selecting device 101 described above with reference to FIGS. 1-6D. A motor assembly sheathe 1 encapsulates a claw drive motor assembly 3 and is capped at one end by an end cap 2. One end of three claw hinges 5 is attached to the exterior of the sheathe 1 via an attachment screw 6 and the other end is attached to one of three claw gripper assemblies 7 via another attachment screw 6. The claw gripper assemblies 7 (referred to as prongs in previous figures), are coupled to a component 4 (referred to as a motor assembly to claw attachment) that itself is attached to the claw drive motor assembly 3. This attachment allows the claw drive motor assembly 3 to cause the claw gripper assemblies 7 to open and close. The component 4 is also attached to a mount for the downward-facing “bomber camera” 8, which itself is attached to the downward-facing “bomber camera” 9 (e.g., the first video camera 130 of FIG. 1).
  • FIG. 10 is an isometric view of a claw drive motor assembly for operating the claw assembly 910 of FIG. 9. The claw drive motor assembly includes a variable speed stepper motor 14 which controls the opening and closing of the claw gripper assemblies 7 of FIG. 9. The stepper motor 14 includes a plurality of stepper motor coils (not shown) that encircle a core (also not shown). The core is attached to the driveshaft 1, which is coupled to the claw gripper assemblies 7 by the component 4 of FIG. 9. Downward movement of the core relative to the coils causes the claw gripper assemblies 7 to open. Conversely, upward motion of the core relative to the coils causes the claw gripper assemblies 7 to close. When an electric current is applied to the coils, a magnetic field is formed that is constant or nearly constant relative to the coils. The constant magnetic field enables the claw gripper assemblies 7 to open and close with the same or nearly the same force, regardless of their positioning. One advantage of the same or near-same opening and closing force is that it provides more predictability to the player when attempting to grasp a prize with the prize selecting device. Another advantage of the claw drive motor assembly is that it provides a better “feel” to the player and enables the player to more precisely position the prize selecting device 101.
  • FIG. 11 depicts side, profile, isometric and top views of the claw gripper assemblies 7 of the claw assembly 910 of FIG. 9. One advantage of the claw gripper assemblies 7 is that they have an aggressive, lifelike appearance that can appeal to players. Although the claw 110 includes three claw gripper assemblies 7, the claw 110 can include fewer or more claw gripper assemblies 7 (e.g., as few as two or more than three).
  • FIG. 12 is a partially schematic isometric view of a crane game 1200 configured in accordance with another embodiment of the invention. In this embodiment, the crane game 1200 is configured for competitive play by two players. The crane game 1200 includes two joysticks 120 a and 120 b that are each operably coupled to a corresponding prize selecting device 101 a and 101 b, respectively. In addition to, or as an alternative to, the first video camera 130 depicted in FIG. 1, each prize selecting device 101 can include a pointing device, such as a staff 1210 that protrudes from its lower portion. Each prize selecting device 101 can also include a touch-sensitive device, such as a button 1220. In this competitive configuration, or “jousting” mode, the goal of each player is to use his or her staff 1210 (or other features of the prize selecting device 101, such as the prongs 112) to strike or touch the other player's button 1220. Each player does so by manipulating his or her joystick 120 to move (e.g., vertical movement, horizontal movement, and/or rotation) his or her prize selecting device 101. If a first one of the players is able to strike the button 1220 of a second one of the players, then the crane game 1200 disables the second player's prize selecting device 101. The crane game 1200 can then provide the winning player with the opportunity to obtain a prize 102 with his or her prize selecting device 101. If neither player is successful in disabling the other's prize selecting device 101, then the crane game 1200 can select (such as by randomly choosing) one of the two players to be provided with the opportunity to obtain a prize 102. Alternatively, the crane game 1200 can provide both players with the opportunity to obtain a prize, either simultaneously or sequentially.
  • FIG. 13 is a schematic view of the machine controller 140 of FIG. 1 and its associated components. The machine controller 140 can include a processor 1310 (e.g., a central processing unit) and various components (as illustrated, components 1312-1348) that are directly or indirectly coupled to the processor 1310. The processor 1310 and the various components 1312-1348 can include hardware and/or software. The data component 1312 can include any type of computer-readable media that can store data accessible by the machine controller 140, such as magnetic hard and floppy disk drives, optical disk drives, magnetic cassettes, tape drives, flash memory cards, digital video disks (DVDs), Bernoulli cartridges, RAMs, ROMs, smart cards, etc. The data component 1312 can store computer-executable instructions, such as a BIOS, operating system, and/or application programs and/or data, data structures and/or other data. For example, the crane game 100 can store images and/or video from the first and second video cameras 130, 132 on the data component 1312. The data component 1312 can be connected to a data device 1334, such as a DVD-ROM drive, USB drive, flash drive, or other data device, for the transfer of data to and from the data component 1312 (e.g., transferring firmware or software instructions, information, promotional messages, and/or advertisements).
  • A sound component 1314 can include a sound device, such as a sound card, that outputs sound to one or more speakers 1336. A light component 1323 can be operably connected to one or more lights 1342 (e.g., LED's, lasers) that can be used during game play. A network component 1316 can include a modem, a network card, a wireless transceiver (e.g., supporting IEEE 802.11, WiMAX, Bluetooth, infrared or other wireless communication technologies) or other communication device that facilitates communication over a network 1338, such as the Internet, intranet, local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), wireless network, phone or cellular network, or other network. Connecting the crane game 100 to the network 1338 enables remote parties, such as administrators, operators, service technicians, and/or other users, to administer, monitor or otherwise communicate with the crane game 100. For example, a remote administrator could remotely update computer-executable instructions used to control the machine controller 140, such as the BIOS, operating system and/or other application programs and/or data. A remote administrator could also change various aspects of the crane game 100, such as the price to buy a prize 502, the strength of the claw 110, the amount of time available to the player to navigate the maze game 605 or to obtain a prize 102, and/or other aspects. As another example, a remote service technician could determine whether the crane game 100 requires service by monitoring its diagnostic or status codes. As a third example, the crane game 100 could request a service call to pick up coins and/or bills deposited by players. The connection to the network 100 also enables the crane game 100 to obtain information, promotional messages, and/or advertisements from one or more remote servers for display on its display devices.
  • In certain embodiments, the crane game 100 is connected to a telephone network (e.g., a wired telephone network or a wireless telephone network), the network component 1316 includes components enabling such a connection (e.g., a microchip such as a Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Card and/or other circuitry or components, etc), and the software instructions stored on the data component 1312 include software instructions for receiving, processing and sending text messages over the telephone network. The crane game 100 has a telephone number (e.g., a telephone number assigned by an operator of the telephone network). A party, which could be a remote administrator or a service technician servicing the machine, could use a mobile device (e.g., a cellular phone) having text messaging capabilities (e.g., capability to send and receive Short Message Service (SMS) text messages) can send text messages to the crane game 100 to request status or diagnostic information, and receive text messages responsive to the requests from the crane game 100. A remote monitoring computer program could similarly send and receive text messages to the crane game 100.
  • For example, a remote administrator could request status of the crane game 100 by creating a text message having the phrase “SS” in it and sending it to the telephone number assigned to the crane game 100. The crane game 100 would receive the text message and the processor 1310 would process it in accordance with the software instructions stored on the data component 1312. The crane game 100 would send a text message to the mobile device of the remote administrator responding to the status request. The text message could include, for example, a date and time, a status (e.g., running, stand-by, etc.) of the crane game 100, a number of plays the crane game 100 has experienced since a specific point in time, a number of toys 502 vended by the crane game 100, a number of times a game on the video screen 104 has been played, a strength of the claw 110, and other settings or information of the crane game 100.
  • As another example, the remote administrator could request that the crane game 100 send an image taken by one of the first and second video cameras 130/132 by creating a text message having the phrase “TI1” (for the first video camera 130) or “TI2” (for the second video camera 132) in it and sending it to the telephone number assigned to the crane game 100. The crane game 100 would receive the text message and the processor 1310 would process it in accordance with the software instructions stored on the data component 1312. The crane game 100 would instruct one of the first and second video cameras 130/132 to take an image. One of the first and second video cameras 130/132 would take an image, and the crane game 100 would send it back to the remote administrator in a Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) message with the attached image. The crane game 100 can similarly respond to requests to capture video with one of the first and second video cameras 130/132 and send the captured video in a MMS message back to the requester.
  • A party could also send text messages to the crane game 100 that changes one or more settings of the crane game 100. For example, the remote administrator could change the strength of the claw 110 of the crane game 100 by creating a text message having the phrase “CS50” in it and sending it to the telephone number assigned to the crane game 100. The crane game 100 would receive the text message and the processor 1310 would process it in accordance with the software instructions stored on the data component 1312 to change the strength of the claw 110 to be at 50%. A text message having the phrase “CS100” would result in changing the strength of the claw 110 to be at 100%. The crane game 100 could send a text message to the mobile device of the remote administrator confirming the changing of the setting of the crane game 100 (or, if the setting was unable to be changed, a text message indicating that and the reason for the failure to change the setting). As another example, the remote administrator could add credit to the crane game 100 by creating a text message having the phrase “CR1” in it and sending it to the telephone number assigned to the crane game 100. The crane game 100 would receive the text message and the processor 1310 would process it in accordance with the software instructions stored on the data component 1312 to add one credit (e.g., $1) to the crane game 100. The crane game 100 could send a text message to the mobile device of the remote administrator confirming the adding of credit to the crane game 100 (or, if the credit was unable to be added, a text message indicating that and the reason for the failure to add the credit). Those of skill in the art will understand that there are numerous text messages (e.g., test play messages, test vend messages, etc.) that can be sent to the crane game 100 to receive information from it or to change its settings, and therefore, the crane game 100 is not limited to receiving and sending only the text messages described herein.
  • The crane game 100 can also employ various security measures to ensure that it accepts text messages and/or other communications only from the appropriate individuals, mobile devices and/or computer programs. The crane game 100 can be configured to only accept text messages from certain telephone numbers by employing a caller identification (caller ID) authentication protocol to determine (i.e., authenticate) the sender of the text message and to determine if the sender is authorized to send text messages to the crane game 100. The crane game 100 can also be configured to accept certain text messages (e.g., text messages adding credit to the crane game 100) from one or more telephone numbers, to ensure that only authorized individuals can instruct the crane game 100 to perform specific functions (e.g., ensuring that only the remote administrator can add credit to the crane game 100). The crane game 100 can employ other authentication and authorization methods and techniques known to those of skill in the art, and therefore, the crane game 100 is not limited to the authentication and authorization methods and techniques described herein.
  • The crane game 100 can also transfer to one or more remote servers the images and/or video from the first and second video cameras 130, 132 that are stored on the data component 1312. Such recorded images and/or video can then be made accessible on a remote server, such as a website, to players for their review. For example, while a player is playing the crane game 100, “player-cam” video from the second video camera 132 can be recorded and stored on the data component 132. Upon the completion of game play, the crane game 100 can then transfer this stored recorded video to a website, where it can be made accessible to the player. The crane game 100 can also transfer other aspects of the player's game play to the website, such as a record of the player's winnings, the time spent navigating the maze game, and/or other results. Alternatively or additionally, the crane game 100 can transfer this stored recorded video (and other aspects) to a device (e.g., cell phone, PDA, etc.) of the player over a Bluetooth, infrared or other wireless communication protocol. The crane game 100 can then display on the display devices, such as the video screen 104, the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) to the website where the stored recorded video (and other aspects) can be accessed. Alternatively or additionally, as described below, the URL can be printed and provided to the player.
  • The machine controller 140 can also include other components, such as a security component 1318 that can be operably coupled to a security device, such as the electronic combination lock 124 illustrated in FIG. 1. The electronic combination lock 124 can have a keypad by which a numerical and/or alphabetical combination must be entered to access the internals of the crane game 100. This combination can be changed by a remote administrator of the crane game 100. For example, a remote administrator could change the combination periodically or randomly as a measure to deter theft. A print component 1322 can instruct the printer 126 to print coupons, receipts, promotions, prizes, advertisements and/or other information to provide to the player and/or passersby as well as status, diagnostic, administrative and/or other information for administrators, operators and/or service technicians. As described above, stored recorded images and/or video can be transferred to a website. The printer 126 can print on a slip of paper the URL to the website where the player's images and/or video is located. The player can then access the images and/or video at a later time, or provide the URL to his or her acquaintances or other persons. Making such images and/or video accessible to players can enhance their game-playing experience, thereby encouraging repeat play.
  • A video component 1324 can include a video card or other video device for the transfer of images and/or video to and from the machine controller. The video component 1324 can receive images and/or video from one or more video cameras, such as the first and second video cameras 130, 132. The video component 1324 can also output images and/or video for display on the display devices, such as the video screen 104. The video component 1324 can also output status, diagnostic, and/or other information regarding the crane game 100. For example, the video screen 104 can display information regarding the number of hours the crane game 100 has been operational, the amount of money collected by the crane game 100, or the number of prizes disbursed by the crane game 100. The video screen 104 can also display information relating to servicing the crane game 100 to facilitate easier maintenance.
  • The machine controller 140 can also include a motion sensing component 1346 and a vibration sensing component 1348. The motion sensing component 1346 can detect motion of players, prospective players and/or passersby. The machine controller 140 can then activate various components in response to detected motion. As an example, when the motion sensing component 1346 detects motion proximate to the crane game 100, the processor 1310 can instruct the video component 1324 to display information, promotional messages, and/or advertisements on the display devices, such as the video screen 104. As a further example, if the motion sensing component 1346 does not detect motion for a pre-determined period of time (e.g., one hour), the processor 1310 can instruct the crane game 100 to enter a “standby” or “hibernation” mode or to shut down, to be “awakened” or turned back on when the motion sensing component 1346 again detects motion. This can aid in reducing power consumption during periods of time when the crane game 100 is not in use, such as when the location in which it is placed is not open for business. The vibration sensing component 1348 can detect unnatural vibration of the crane game 100, or vibration that exceeds a certain threshold. If the vibration sensing component detects such vibration, the processor 1310 can instruct various components to take various actions. For example, the vibration sensing component can be activated during certain time periods, such as from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. If it senses unnatural vibration during that time, the processor 1310 can instruct the second video camera 132 to record images and/or video. This can deter persons who may be attempting to break into or damage the crane game 100. As another example, the vibration sensing component 1348 can be set to detect unnatural vibration during game play. If it senses such vibration during game play, the processor 1310 can halt game play, lock the access door 118, or otherwise shut down the crane game 100. This can deter persons who may cheat by jostling, tipping or otherwise disturbing the crane game 100 in the hopes of causing one or more prizes to fall into the chute 116.
  • A monetary component 1326 can process money and/or credit that the player deposits via the one or more coin slots 106 and a bill acceptor 108. The monetary component 1326 can further activate the various components of the crane game 100 for game play by the player upon receipt of the money and/or credit. Upon activation, a user input component 1328 can receive commands and/or instructions transmitted by the player's use of the joystick 120 and/or button 122. Additionally or alternatively, the user input component 1328 can receiving user input from other devices, such as a keyboard, mouse, microphone, joystick, pen, game pad, scanner, digital camera, video camera, and the like, that can be connected to the crane game 100 for various purposes. A control component 1330 can control the prize selecting device 101 in response to input from the player and in response to instructions from the processor 1310.
  • Other components that can form part of the machine controller 140 can include an RFID (radio frequency identification) component 1320 and a bar code component 1332. The RFID component 1320 can include an RFID transceiver that can transmit a radio signal to RFID transponders attached to the prizes 102, and receive responses from these transponders. In this way the machine controller 140 can inventory prizes 102 contained by the crane game 100. Such inventory information can be transmitted by the network component 1316 via the network 1338 to remote administrators, service technicians, operators, and/or other users for purposes of indicating when the crane game's prize inventory needs to be replenished. Such inventory information can also assist in preventing theft or loss of the prizes 102 and/or money. The bar code component 1332 can be operably coupled to a bar code reader 1344. The bar code component 1332 can generate bar codes to be printed by the printer 126 or displayed on the video screen 104. Bar codes can include conventional bar codes (e.g., those representing UPC symbols) as well as other methods of encoding information (e.g., PDF417 or other 2D bar codes). For example, as a promotion, the printer 126 can print out bar codes representing prizes, such as a free or reduced-price game or prize or other discounts. Prospective players can then present coupons bearing such bar codes to the bar code reader 1344 to obtain the prize represented by the bar code. The bar code reader 1344 can also read bar codes printed on other items, such as player cards, which can be cards that players carry to identify themselves to the crane game 100 and/or as part of a “frequent player” program. The bar code component 1332 can also generate bar codes, to be printed by the printer 126, that represent discounts on goods sold and/or services provided by the location in which the crane game 100 is placed, and/or bar codes that represent other promotions.
  • After the crane game 100 has been played a number of times, the prizes 102 can become more closely packed together than the prizes 102 are after the crane game 100 has been initially set up. This can make it more difficult for the player to obtain a prize 102. One solution to this problem is to “fluff” the prizes 102, which can include shaking, vibrating, jostling, or otherwise disturbing the prizes 102, in order to make them less closely packed together. In this regard, the machine controller 140 can include a fluffing component 1321 operably coupled to a mechanical fluffer 1340. The mechanical fluffer 1340 can include mechanisms for vibrating or jostling the prizes 102, such as rods that protrude from the floor of the cabinet 128, or a mechanism for sending an air burst into the prizes 102. The fluffing component 1321 can instruct the mechanical fluffer 1340 to fluff the prizes 102 periodically or on an ad-hoc basis. Alternatively or additionally, the crane game 100 can offer to fluff the prizes 102 as a paid option to the player (e.g., offer to fluff the prizes 102 for $0.25 before game play).
  • Although schematically illustrated as embodied in a single machine controller 140, aspects of the invention can be practiced in distributed environment where tasks or modules are performed by remote processing devices, which are linked through the network 1338. In such a distributed environment, program modules may be located in both local and remote memory storage devices. The machine controller 140 may employ security measures to inhibit malicious attacks on the crane game 100, and to preserve integrity of the messages and data stored therein (e.g., firewall systems, secure socket layers (SSL), password protection schemes, encryption, and the like). The schematic illustration of the various components in FIG. 13 is intended to be exemplary and not intended to be limiting. Accordingly, those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the machine controller 140 can also include other components that perform other functions.
  • From the foregoing, it will be appreciated that specific embodiments of the invention have been described herein for purposes of illustration, but that various modifications may be made without deviating from the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, aspects of the invention described in the context of particular embodiments may be combined or eliminated in other embodiments. Further, while advantages associated with certain embodiments of the invention have been described in the context of those embodiments, other embodiments may also exhibit such advantages, and no embodiment need necessarily exhibit such advantages to fall within the scope of the invention. Accordingly, the invention is not limited, except as by the appended claims.

Claims (6)

1. An amusement machine comprising:
an enclosure having a transparent portion;
at least one prize positioned within the enclosure and visible from outside the enclosure through the transparent portion;
a prize selecting device movably positioned within the enclosure;
a user-operable controller operably coupled to the prize selecting device; and
a display device operably coupled to the user-operable controller, wherein the display device displays at least two options selectable by the user using the user-operable controller, wherein a first option includes purchasing a prize to be automatically delivered to the user by the prize selecting device, and wherein a second option includes playing a game displayed on the display device using the user-operable controller.
2. The amusement machine of claim 1 wherein the game includes at least one game prize that if won by the user affects a subsequent attempt by the user to select a prize using the prize selecting device, and wherein the second option further includes, at the conclusion of the game play, allowing the user to attempt to select a prize using the prize selecting device.
3. A method of providing entertainment, the method comprising:
providing a vending machine having at least one prize, a user-operable controller, a prize selecting device for selecting a prize and a display device displaying at least two options selectable by the user using the user-operable controller, wherein a first option includes purchasing the prize to be automatically delivered to the user by a prize selecting device, and wherein a second option includes playing a game displayed on the display device using the user-operable controller;
receiving a selection of an option from the user using the user-operable controller; and
if the user selected the first option, then:
displaying a prize price of the prize on the display device;
receiving payment of the prize price from the user; and
automatically delivering the prize to the user using the prize selecting device.
4. The method of claim 3, further comprising:
if the user selected the second option, then:
displaying a game price of playing the game on the display device;
receiving payment of the game price from the user;
displaying the game on the display device, wherein the game includes at least one game prize that if won by the user affects attempted selection of a prize by the user using the prize selecting device;
allowing the user to play the game;
at the conclusion of the game play, allowing the user to attempt to select a prize using the prize selecting device; and
if the user won a game prize, then affecting the user's attempted selection of a prize in accordance with the game prize won.
5. An amusement machine comprising:
means for enclosing one or more prizes;
means for selecting a prize;
means for manipulating the means for selecting a prize;
means for displaying at least two options selectable by a user, wherein a first option includes purchasing a prize to be automatically delivered to the user by the means for selecting a prize, and wherein a second option includes playing a game displayed on the means for displaying.
6. The amusement machine of claim 5 wherein the game includes at least one game prize that if won by the user affects a subsequent attempt by the user to select a prize using the means for selecting a prize, and wherein the second option further includes, at the conclusion of the game play, allowing the user to attempt to select a prize using the means for selecting a prize.
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US20180264353A1 (en) * 2017-03-20 2018-09-20 En-Shin Chu Multiply interactive game equipment
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US20180264353A1 (en) * 2017-03-20 2018-09-20 En-Shin Chu Multiply interactive game equipment
US10307665B2 (en) * 2017-03-20 2019-06-04 En-Shin Chu Multiply interactive game equipment
US20180276954A1 (en) * 2017-03-22 2018-09-27 En-Shin Chu Interactive treasure-hunting method and system
US10249148B2 (en) * 2017-03-22 2019-04-02 En-Shin Chu Interactive treasure-hunting method and system
RU178836U1 (en) * 2017-12-11 2018-04-19 Константин Юрьевич Шерстюк Gaming machine using a container for collecting game items for issuing a prize

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