US20110105233A1 - Community Picking Game With Individual And Community Awards - Google Patents

Community Picking Game With Individual And Community Awards Download PDF

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Publication number
US20110105233A1
US20110105233A1 US12/913,118 US91311810A US2011105233A1 US 20110105233 A1 US20110105233 A1 US 20110105233A1 US 91311810 A US91311810 A US 91311810A US 2011105233 A1 US2011105233 A1 US 2011105233A1
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Prior art keywords
award
community
player
type
participating
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Abandoned
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US12/913,118
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Dion K. Aoki
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Bally Gaming Inc
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WMS Gaming Inc
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Priority to US25626209P priority Critical
Application filed by WMS Gaming Inc filed Critical WMS Gaming Inc
Priority to US12/913,118 priority patent/US20110105233A1/en
Publication of US20110105233A1 publication Critical patent/US20110105233A1/en
Assigned to WMS GAMING INC. reassignment WMS GAMING INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: AOKI, DION K.
Assigned to BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., AS COLLATERAL AGENT reassignment BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., AS COLLATERAL AGENT SECURITY AGREEMENT Assignors: SCIENTIFIC GAMES INTERNATIONAL, INC., WMS GAMING INC.
Assigned to BALLY GAMING, INC. reassignment BALLY GAMING, INC. MERGER (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: WMS GAMING INC.
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
    • G07F17/3244Payment aspects of a gaming system, e.g. payment schemes, setting payout ratio, bonus or consolation prizes
    • 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
    • G07F17/3204Player-machine interfaces
    • G07F17/3211Display means

Abstract

A method is directed to conducting a community event in which a plurality of players at respective gaming terminals are participating. The method includes displaying the community event on one or more displays, and displaying a plurality of player-selectable elements for ach participating player on at least one of the one or more displays. The player-selectable elements include elements of a first type and a second type. In response to any participating player selecting an element of the first type, a controller is used to award an individual award associated with the selected element only to the selecting player. In response to any participating player selecting an element of the second type, a controller is used to award a community award associated with the selected element to all participating players.

Description

    REFERENCE To RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application is related to and claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/256,262, filed Oct. 29, 2009, and titled “Community Picking Game With Individual And Community Awards,” which is incorporated herein in its entirety.
  • COPYRIGHT
  • A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material which is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent files or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates generally to a gaming apparatus, and methods for playing wagering games, and more particularly, to a community game in which player selections result in individual awards and community awards.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • Gaming terminals, such as slot machines, video poker machines and the like, have been a cornerstone of the gaming industry for several years. Generally, the popularity of such machines with players is dependent on the likelihood (or perceived likelihood) of winning money at the machine and the intrinsic entertainment value of the machine relative to other available gaming options.
  • When conducting a wagering game, a player receives an individual award if a winning outcome is achieved. For example, a winning outcome is achieved if a player selects a winning symbol from an array of mystery symbols. The individual award is an award that is dedicated (or provided) solely to the player.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • According to one aspect of the present invention, a method is directed to conducting a community event in which a plurality of players at respective gaming terminals are participating. The method includes displaying the community event on one or more displays, and displaying a plurality of player-selectable elements for ach participating player on at least one of the one or more displays. The player-selectable elements include elements of a first type and a second type. In response to any participating player selecting an element of the first type, a controller is used to award an individual award associated with the selected element only to the selecting player. In response to any participating player selecting an element of the second type, a controller is used to award a community award associated with the selected element to all participating players.
  • According to yet another aspect of the invention, computer readable storage media is encoded with instructions for directing a gaming system to perform the above method.
  • According to another aspect of the invention, a gaming system for playing a community wagering game is directed to a community event in which a plurality of players at respective gaming terminals are participating. The gaming system includes one or more displays for displaying the community event thereon. The community event includes a plurality of player-selectable elements having elements of a first type and a second type. The gaming system further includes at least one controller in communication with the one or more displays. The controller is operative to, in response to any participating player selecting an element of the first type, award an individual award associated with the selected element of the first type only to the selecting player. The controller is further operative to, in response to any participating player selecting an element of the second type, award a community award associated with the selected element of the second type to all participating players.
  • Additional aspects of the invention will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art in view of the detailed description of various embodiments, which is made with reference to the drawings, a brief description of which is provided below.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a free-standing gaming terminal according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 2 is a schematic view of a gaming system according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 3 is an image of an exemplary basic-game screen of a wagering game displayed on a gaming terminal, according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 4 is a front view illustrating a gaming system having a community display and a plurality of gaming terminals.
  • FIG. 5A is an image of a picking bonus game for a first pair of gaming terminals of the gaming system shown in FIG. 4.
  • FIG. 5B is an image of a picking bonus game for a second pair of gaming terminals of the gaming system shown in FIG. 4.
  • FIG. 6 is an image of the picking bonus game for a first gaming terminal of FIG. 5A.
  • FIG. 7 is an image of the picking bonus game of FIG. 6 illustrating an individual player award.
  • FIG. 8 is an image of the picking bonus game of FIG. 6 illustrating a community player award.
  • FIG. 9A is an image of the picking bonus game for the first pair of gaming terminals shown in FIG. 4.
  • FIG. 9B is an image of the picking bonus game shown in FIG. 9A illustrating the second pair of gaming terminals.
  • FIG. 10 is an image of a community bonus game in which each of the players is awarded a selection from a plurality of selections.
  • FIG. 11 is an image of the community bonus game of FIG. 10 illustrating awards provided to the players.
  • While the invention is susceptible to various modifications and alternative forms, specific embodiments have been shown by way of example in the drawings and will be described in detail herein. It should be understood, however, that the invention is not intended to be limited to the particular forms disclosed. Rather, the invention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • While this invention is susceptible of embodiment in many different forms, there is shown in the drawings and will herein be described in detail preferred embodiments of the invention with the understanding that the present disclosure is to be considered as an exemplification of the principles of the invention and is not intended to limit the broad aspect of the invention to the embodiments illustrated.
  • Referring to FIG. 1, there is shown a gaming terminal 10 similar to those used in gaming establishments, such as casinos. With regard to the present invention, the gaming terminal 10 may be any type of gaming terminal and may have varying structures and methods of operation. For example, in some aspects, the gaming terminal 10 is be an electromechanical gaming terminal configured to play mechanical slots, whereas in other aspects, the gaming terminal is an electronic gaming terminal configured to play a video casino game, such as slots, keno, poker, blackjack, roulette, craps, etc. It should be understood that although the gaming terminal 10 is shown as a free-standing terminal of the upright type, the gaming terminal is readily amenable to implementation in a wide variety of other forms such as a free-standing terminal of the slant-top type, a portable or handheld device primarily used for gaming, such as is disclosed by way of example in PCT Patent Application No. PCT/US2007/000792 filed Jan. 26, 2007, titled “Handheld Device for Wagering Games,” which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety, a mobile telecommunications device such as a mobile telephone or personal digital assistant (PDA), a counter-top or bar-top gaming terminal, or other personal electronic device, such as a portable television, MP3 player, entertainment device, etcetera.
  • The gaming terminal 10 illustrated in FIG. 1 comprises a cabinet or housing 12. For output devices, this embodiment of the gaming terminal 10 includes a primary display area 14, a secondary display area 16, and one or more audio speakers 18. The primary display area 14 and/or secondary display area 16 variously displays information associated with wagering games, non-wagering games, community games, progressives, advertisements, services, premium entertainment, text messaging, emails, alerts or announcements, broadcast information, subscription information, etc. appropriate to the particular mode(s) of operation of the gaming terminal. For input devices, the gaming terminal 10 illustrated in FIG. 1 includes a bill validator 20, a coin acceptor 22, one or more information readers 24, one or more player-input devices 26, and one or more player-accessible ports 28 (e.g., an audio output jack for headphones, a video headset jack, a wireless transmitter/receiver, etc.). While these typical components found in the gaming terminal 10 are described below, it should be understood that numerous other peripheral devices and other elements exist and are readily utilizable in any number of combinations to create various forms of a gaming terminal in accord with the present concepts.
  • The primary display area 14 include, in various aspects of the present concepts, a mechanical-reel display, a video display, or a combination thereof in which a transmissive video display is disposed in front of the mechanical-reel display to portray a video image in superposition over the mechanical-reel display. Further information concerning the latter construction is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,517,433 to Loose et al. entitled “Reel Spinning Slot Machine With Superimposed Video Image,” which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. The video display is, in various embodiments, a cathode ray tube (CRT), a high-resolution liquid crystal display (LCD), a plasma display, a light emitting diode (LED), a DLP projection display, an electroluminescent (EL) panel, or any other type of display suitable for use in the gaming terminal 10, or other form factor, such as is shown by way of example in FIG. 1. The primary display area 14 includes, in relation to many aspects of wagering games conducted on the gaming terminal 10, one or more paylines 30 (see FIG. 3) extending along a portion of the primary display area. In the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 1, the primary display area 14 comprises a plurality of mechanical reels 32 and a video display 34, such as a transmissive display (or a reflected image arrangement in other embodiments), in front of the mechanical reels 32. If the wagering game conducted via the gaming terminal 10 relies upon the video display 34 only and not the mechanical reels 32, the mechanical reels 32 are optionally removed from the interior of the terminal and the video display 34 is advantageously of a non-transmissive type. Similarly, if the wagering game conducted via the gaming terminal 10 relies only upon the mechanical reels 32, but not the video display 34, the video display 34 depicted in FIG. 1 is replaced with a conventional glass panel. Further, in still other embodiments, the video display 34 is disposed to overlay another video display, rather than a mechanical-reel display, such that the primary display area 14 includes layered or superimposed video displays. In yet other embodiments, the mechanical-reel display of the above-noted embodiments is replaced with another mechanical or physical member or members such as, but not limited to, a mechanical wheel (e.g., a roulette game), dice, a pachinko board, or a diorama presenting a three-dimensional model of a game environment.
  • Video images in the primary display area 14 and/or the secondary display area 16 are rendered in two-dimensional (e.g., using Flash Macromedia™) or three-dimensional graphics (e.g., using Renderware™). In various aspects, the video images are played back (e.g., from a recording stored on the gaming terminal 10), streamed (e.g., from a gaming network), or received as a TV signal (e.g., either broadcast or via cable) and such images can take different forms, such as animated images, computer-generated images, or “real-life” images, either prerecorded (e.g., in the case of marketing/promotional material) or as live footage. The format of the video images can include any format including, but not limited to, an analog format, a standard digital format, or a high-definition (HD) digital format.
  • The player-input or user-input device(s) 26 include, by way of example, a plurality of buttons 36 on a button panel, as shown in FIG. 1, a mouse, a joy stick, a switch, a microphone, and/or a touch screen 38 mounted over the primary display area 14 and/or the secondary display area 16 and having one or more soft touch keys 40, as is also shown in FIG. 1. In still other aspects, the player-input devices 26 comprise technologies that do not rely upon physical contact between the player and the gaming terminal, such as speech-recognition technology, gesture-sensing technology, eye-tracking technology, etc. The player-input or user-input device(s) 26 thus accept(s) player input(s) and transforms the player input(s) to electronic data signals indicative of a player input or inputs corresponding to an enabled feature for such input(s) at a time of activation (e.g., pressing a “Max Bet” button or soft key to indicate a player's desire to place a maximum wager to play the wagering game). The input(s), once transformed into electronic data signals, are output to a CPU or controller 42 (see FIG. 2) for processing. The electronic data signals are selected from a group consisting essentially of an electrical current, an electrical voltage, an electrical charge, an optical signal, an optical element, a magnetic signal, and a magnetic element.
  • The information reader 24 (or information reader/writer) is preferably located on the front of the housing 12 and comprises, in at least some forms, a ticket reader, card reader, bar code scanner, wireless transceiver (e.g., RFID, Bluetooth, etc.), biometric reader, or computer-readable-storage-medium interface. As noted, the information reader may comprise a physical and/or electronic writing element to permit writing to a ticket, a card, or computer-readable-storage-medium. The information reader 24 permits information to be transmitted from a portable medium (e.g., ticket, voucher, coupon, casino card, smart card, debit card, credit card, etc.) to the information reader 24 to enable the gaming terminal 10 or associated external system to access an account associated with cashless gaming, to facilitate player tracking or game customization, to retrieve a saved-game state, to store a current-game state, to cause data transfer, and/or to facilitate access to casino services, such as is more fully disclosed, by way of example, in U.S. Patent Publication No. 2003/0045354 entitled “Portable Data Unit for Communicating With Gaming Machine Over Wireless Link,” which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. The noted account associated with cashless gaming is, in some aspects of the present concepts, stored at an external system 46 (see FIG. 2) as more fully disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,280,328 to Holch et al. entitled “Cashless Computerized Video Game System and Method,” which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety, or is alternatively stored directly on the portable storage medium. Various security protocols or features can be used to enhance security of the portable storage medium. For example, in some aspects, the individual carrying the portable storage medium is required to enter a secondary independent authenticator (e.g., password, PIN number, biometric, etc.) to access the account stored on the portable storage medium.
  • Turning now to FIG. 2, the various components of the gaming terminal 10 are controlled by one or more processors (e.g., CPU, distributed processors, etc.) 42, also referred to herein generally as a controller (e.g., microcontroller, microprocessor, etc.). The controller 42 can include any suitable processor(s), such as an Intel® Pentium processor, Intel® Core 2 Duo processor, AMD Opteron™ processor, or UltraSPARC® processor. By way of example, the controller 42 includes a plurality of microprocessors including a master processor, a slave processor, and a secondary or parallel processor. Controller 42, as used herein, comprises any combination of hardware, software, and/or firmware disposed in and/or disposed outside of the gaming terminal 10 that is configured to communicate with and/or control the transfer of data between the gaming terminal 10 and a bus, another computer, processor, or device and/or a service and/or a network. The controller 42 comprises one or more controllers or processors and such one or more controllers or processors need not be disposed proximal to one another and may be located in different devices and/or in different locations. For example, a first processor is disposed proximate a user interface device (e.g., a push button panel, a touch screen display, etc.) and a second processor is disposed remotely from the first processor, the first and second processors being electrically connected through a network. As another example, the first processor is disposed in a first enclosure (e.g., a gaming machine) and a second processor is disposed in a second enclosure (e.g., a server) separate from the first enclosure, the first and second processors being communicatively connected through a network. The controller 42 is operable to execute all of the various gaming methods and other processes disclosed herein.
  • To provide gaming functions, the controller 42 executes one or more game programs comprising machine-executable instructions stored in local and/or remote computer-readable data storage media (e.g., memory 44 or other suitable storage device). The term computer-readable data storage media, or “computer-readable medium,” as used herein refers to any media/medium that participates in providing instructions to controller 42 for execution. The computer-readable medium comprises, in at least some exemplary forms, non-volatile media (e.g., optical disks, magnetic disks, etc.), volatile media (e.g., dynamic memory, RAM), and transmission media (e.g., coaxial cables, copper wire, fiber optics, radio frequency (RF) data communication, infrared (IR) data communication, etc). Common forms of computer-readable media include, for example, a hard disk, magnetic tape (or other magnetic medium), a 2-D or 3-D optical disc (e.g., a CD-ROM, DVD, etc.), RAM, PROM, EPROM, FLASH-EPROM, any other memory chip or solid state digital data storage device, a carrier wave, or any other medium from which a computer can read. By way of example, a plurality of storage media or devices are provided, a first storage device being disposed proximate the user interface device and a second storage device being disposed remotely from the first storage device, wherein a network is connected intermediate the first one and second one of the storage devices.
  • Various forms of computer-readable media may be involved in carrying one or more sequences of one or more instructions to controller 42 for execution. By way of example, the instructions may initially be borne on a data storage device of a remote device (e.g., a remote computer, server, or system). The remote device can load the instructions into its dynamic memory and send the instructions over a telephone line or other communication path using a modem or other communication device appropriate to the communication path. A modem or other communication device local to the gaming machine 10 or to an external system 46 associated with the gaming machine can receive the data on the telephone line or conveyed through the communication path (e.g., via external systems interface 58) and output the data to a bus, which transmits the data to the system memory 44 associated with the processor 42, from which system memory the processor retrieves and executes the instructions.
  • Thus, the controller 42 is able to send and receive data, via carrier signals, through the network(s), network link, and communication interface. The data includes, in various examples, instructions, commands, program code, player data, and game data. As to the game data, in at least some aspects of the present concepts, the controller 42 uses a local random number generator (RNG) to randomly generate a wagering game outcome from a plurality of possible outcomes. Alternatively, the outcome is centrally determined using either an RNG or pooling scheme at a remote controller included, for example, within the external system 46.
  • As shown in the example of FIG. 2, the controller 42 is coupled to the system memory 44. The system memory 44 is shown to comprise a volatile memory (e.g., a random-access memory (RAM)) and a non-volatile memory (e.g., an EEPROM), but optionally includes multiple RAM and multiple program memories.
  • As shown in the example of FIG. 2, the controller 42 is also coupled to a money/credit detector 48. The money/credit detector 48 is configured to output a signal the controller 42 that money and/or credits have been input via one or more value-input devices, such as the bill validator 20, coin acceptor 22, or via other sources, such as a cashless gaming account, etc. The value-input device(s) is integrated with the housing 12 of the gaming terminal 10 and is connected to the remainder of the components of the gaming terminal 10, as appropriate, via a wired connection, such as I/O 56, or wireless connection. The money/credit detector 48 detects the input of valid funds into the gaming terminal 10 (e.g., via currency, electronic funds, ticket, card, etc.) via the value-input device(s) and outputs a signal to the controller 42 carrying data regarding the input value of the valid funds. The controller 42 extracts the data from these signals from the money/credit detector 48, analyzes the associated data, and transforms the data corresponding to the input value into an equivalent credit balance that is available to the player for subsequent wagers on the gaming terminal 10, such transforming of the data being effected by software, hardware, and/or firmware configured to associate the input value to an equivalent credit value. Where the input value is already in a credit value form, such as in a cashless gaming account having stored therein a credit value, the wager is simply deducted from the available credit balance.
  • As seen in FIG. 2, the controller 42 is also connected to, and controls, the primary display area 14, the player-input device(s) 26, and a payoff mechanism 50. The payoff mechanism 50 is operable in response to instructions from the controller 42 to award a payoff to the player in response to certain winning outcomes that occur in the base game, the bonus game(s), or via an external game or event. The payoff is provided in the form of money, credits, redeemable points, advancement within a game, access to special features within a game, services, another exchangeable media, or any combination thereof. Although payoffs may be paid out in coins and/or currency bills, payoffs are alternatively associated with a coded ticket (from a ticket printer 52), a portable storage medium or device (e.g., a card magnetic strip), or are transferred to or transmitted to a designated player account. The payoff amounts distributed by the payoff mechanism 50 are determined by one or more pay tables stored in the system memory 44.
  • Communications between the controller 42 and both the peripheral components of the gaming terminal 10 and the external system 46 occur through input/output (I/O) circuit 56, which can include any suitable bus technologies, such as an AGTL+ frontside bus and a PCI backside bus. Although the I/O circuit 56 is shown as a single block, it should be appreciated that the I/O circuit 56 alternatively includes a number of different types of I/O circuits. Furthermore, in some embodiments, the components of the gaming terminal 10 can be interconnected according to any suitable interconnection architecture (e.g., directly connected, hypercube, etc.).
  • The I/O circuit 56 is connected to an external system interface or communication device 58, which is connected to the external system 46. The controller 42 communicates with the external system 46 via the external system interface 58 and a communication path (e.g., serial, parallel, IR, RC, 10bT, near field, etc.). The external system 46 includes, in various aspects, a gaming network, other gaming terminals, a gaming server, a remote controller, communications hardware, or a variety of other interfaced systems or components, in any combination. In yet other aspects, the external system 46 may comprise a player's portable electronic device (e.g., cellular phone, electronic wallet, etc.) and the external system interface 58 is configured to facilitate wireless communication and data transfer between the portable electronic device and the controller 42, such as by a near field communication path operating via magnetic field induction or a frequency-hopping spread spectrum RF signals (e.g., Bluetooth, etc.).
  • The gaming terminal 10 optionally communicates with external system 46 (in a wired or wireless manner) such that each terminal operates as a “thin client” having relatively less functionality, a “thick client” having relatively more functionality, or with any range of functionality therebetween (e.g., an “intermediate client”). In general, a wagering game includes an RNG for generating a random number, game logic for determining the outcome based on the randomly generated number, and game assets (e.g., art, sound, etc.) for presenting the determined outcome to a player in an audio-visual manner. The RNG, game logic, and game assets are contained within the gaming terminal 10 (“thick client” gaming terminal), the external systems 46 (“thin client” gaming terminal), or are distributed therebetween in any suitable manner (“intermediate client” gaming terminal).
  • Referring now to FIG. 3, an image of a basic-game screen 60 adapted to be displayed on the primary display area 14 is illustrated, according to one embodiment of the present invention. A player begins play of a basic wagering game by providing a wager. A player can operate or interact with the wagering game using the one or more player-input devices 26. The controller 42, the external system 46, or both, in alternative embodiments, operate(s) to execute a wagering game program causing the primary display area 14 to display the wagering game that includes a plurality of visual elements.
  • In accord with various methods of conducting a wagering game on a gaming system in accord with the present concepts, the wagering game includes a game sequence in which a player makes a wager, such as through the money/credit detector 48, touch screen 38 soft key, button panel, or the like, and a wagering game outcome is associated with the wager. The wagering game outcome is then revealed to the player in due course following initiation of the wagering game. The method comprises the acts of conducting the wagering game using a gaming apparatus, such as the gaming terminal 10 depicted in FIG. 1, following receipt of an input from the player to initiate the wagering game. The gaming terminal 10 then communicates the wagering game outcome to the player via one or more output devices (e.g., primary display 14) through the display of information such as, but not limited to, text, graphics, text and graphics, static images, moving images, etc., or any combination thereof. In accord with the method of conducting the wagering game, the controller 42, which comprises one or more processors, transforms a physical player input, such as a player's pressing of a “Spin Reels” soft key 84 (see FIG. 3), into an electronic data signal indicative of an instruction relating to the wagering game (e.g., an electronic data signal bearing data on a wager amount).
  • In the aforementioned method, for each data signal, the controller 42 is configured to processes the electronic data signal, to interpret the data signal (e.g., data signals corresponding to a wager input), and to cause further actions associated with the interpretation of the signal in accord with computer instructions relating to such further actions executed by the controller. As one example, the controller 42 causes the recording of a digital representation of the wager in one or more storage devices (e.g., system memory 44 or a memory associated with an external system 46), the controller, in accord with associated computer instructions, causing the changing of a state of the data storage device from a first state to a second state. This change in state is, for example, effected by changing a magnetization pattern on a magnetically coated surface of a magnetic storage device or changing a magnetic state of a ferromagnetic surface of a magneto-optical disc storage device, a change in state of transistors or capacitors in a volatile or a non-volatile semiconductor memory (e.g., DRAM), etc.). The noted second state of the data storage device comprises storage in the storage device of data representing the electronic data signal from the controller (e.g., the wager in the present example). As another example, the controller 42 further, in accord with the execution of the instructions relating to the wagering game, causes the primary display 14 or other display device and/or other output device (e.g., speakers, lights, communication device, etc.), to change from a first state to at least a second state, wherein the second state of the primary display comprises a visual representation of the physical player input (e.g., an acknowledgement to a player), information relating to the physical player input (e.g., an indication of the wager amount), a game sequence, an outcome of the game sequence, or any combination thereof, wherein the game sequence in accord with the present concepts comprises acts described herein. The aforementioned executing of computer instructions relating to the wagering game is further conducted in accord with a random outcome (e.g., determined by the RNG) that is used by the controller 42 to determine the outcome of the game sequence, using a game logic for determining the outcome based on the randomly generated number. In at least some aspects, the controller 42 is configured to determine an outcome of the game sequence at least partially in response to the random parameter.
  • The basic-game screen 60 is displayed on the primary display area 14 or a portion thereof. In FIG. 3, the basic-game screen 60 portrays a plurality of simulated movable reels 62 a-e. Alternatively or additionally, the basic-game screen 60 portrays a plurality of mechanical reels or other video or mechanical presentation consistent with the game format and theme. The basic-game screen 60 also advantageously displays one or more game-session meters and various buttons adapted to be actuated by a player.
  • In the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 3, the game-session meters include a “credit” meter 64 for displaying a number of credits available for play on the terminal; a “lines” meter 66 for displaying a number of paylines to be played by a player on the terminal; a “line bet” meter 68 for displaying a number of credits wagered (e.g., from 1 to 5 or more credits) for each of the number of paylines played; a “total bet” meter 70 for displaying a total number of credits wagered for the particular round of wagering; and a “paid” meter 72 for displaying an amount to be awarded based on the results of the particular round's wager. The depicted user-selectable buttons include a “collect” button 74 to collect the credits remaining in the credits meter 64; a “help” button 76 for viewing instructions on how to play the wagering game; a “pay table” button 78 for viewing a pay table associated with the basic wagering game; a “select lines” button 80 for changing the number of paylines (displayed in the lines meter 66) a player wishes to play; a “bet per line” button 82 for changing the amount of the wager which is displayed in the line-bet meter 68; a “spin reels” button 84 for moving the reels 62 a-e; and a “max bet spin” button 86 for wagering a maximum number of credits and moving the reels 62 a-e of the basic wagering game. While the gaming terminal 10 allows for these types of player inputs, the present invention does not require them and can be used on gaming terminals having more, less, or different player inputs.
  • As shown in the example of FIG. 3, paylines 30 extend from one of the payline indicators 88 a-i on the left side of the basic-game screen 60 to a corresponding one of the payline indicators 88 a-i on the right side of the screen 60. A plurality of symbols 90 is displayed on the plurality of reels 62 a-e to indicate possible outcomes of the basic wagering game. A winning combination occurs when the displayed symbols 90 correspond to one of the winning symbol combinations listed in a pay table stored in the memory 44 of the terminal 10 or in the external system 46. The symbols 90 may include any appropriate graphical representation or animation, and may further include a “blank” symbol.
  • Symbol combinations are evaluated in accord with various schemes such as, but not limited to, “line pays” or “scatter pays.” Line pays are evaluated left to right, right to left, top to bottom, bottom to top, or any combination thereof by evaluating the number, type, or order of symbols 90 appearing along an activated payline 30. Scatter pays are evaluated without regard to position or paylines and only require that such combination appears anywhere on the reels 62 a-e. While an embodiment with nine paylines is shown, a wagering game with no paylines, a single payline, or any plurality of paylines will also work with the present invention. Additionally, though an embodiment with five reels is shown in FIG. 3, different embodiments of the gaming terminal 10 comprise a greater or lesser number of reels in accordance with the present invention.
  • Referring to FIG. 4, a gaming system or bank 400 includes a community display 402 having two adjacent display screens 404, 406. The community display 402 is communicatively coupled to a plurality of gaming terminals 408 a-408 d, which are optionally located below the community display 402. The gaming terminals 408 a-408 d are of the type described above in reference to FIGS. 1 and 2 and include respective display areas 410 a-410 d.
  • The community game is displayed on the display screens 404, 406 and on the display areas 410 a-410 d. According to the illustrated embodiment, the community game has a Monopoly Big Money Spin game theme. Based on various triggering events, one or more community games, including bonus games, can be conducted on the gaming system 400 by eligible players.
  • One exemplary type of triggering event can be a mystery trigger. For example, a server randomly picks a random number every few milliseconds and triggers the community game if the random number equals a predetermined number or if the random number is within a predetermined number range. Another type of triggering event can occur at regular intervals. For example, the server triggers the community game at fixed time intervals, such as once every 20 minutes. Yet another type of a triggering event can be a symbol trigger. For example, the occurrence of a particular symbol or symbol combination in any of the wagering games linked to the community game triggers the community game.
  • Player eligibility for participating in the community came can be determined in various ways. For example, different criteria can be used, generally, for any player who has been actively playing one of the linked wagering games at the time of the trigger. The criteria can be measured, for example, based on game play. According to one embodiment, a player earns an incrementing multiplier or time eligibility through game play. Based on the earned multiplier or time eligibility, the player can be deemed eligible for participating in the community game. For example, if the earned multiplier is at least a 3× multiplier or if the time eligibility is at least 30 seconds, the player is eligible for participating in the community game.
  • Referring to FIGS. 5A-5B, a community bonus game has a plurality (e.g., an array or field) of player-selectable elements and is conducted on the gaming bank 400. One or more of the player-selectable elements yield individual awards and one or more of the elements yield community awards. The individual awards are awarded to only one of the eligible players in the community game, and the community awards are awarded to all eligible players in the community game. The awards can have many forms, including, for example, credit values, multipliers, game play (e.g., number of free spins), etc.
  • The bonus game is triggered by an event in which a predetermined symbol occurs in a particular manner. For example, according to an Electric Company bonus game, the triggering event is an Electric Company reel symbol or a combination of Electric Company reel symbols that appears in an introductory segment of a community event such as Mr. Monopoly Big Money Spin. According to another example, the triggering event is the Electric Company symbol landing on an Electric Company property of a Monopoly® board while conducting a Monopoly® theme game. For additional information regarding Monopoly® theme games, the reader is referred to commonly-assigned U.S. Pat. No. 6,315,660 B1, titled “Gaming Machines With Board Game Theme” and issued Nov. 13, 2001, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
  • Each of the display screens 404, 406 displays two bonus screens or images corresponding to two of the display areas 410 a-410 d. Specifically, a left display screen 404 displays a first bonus screen 500 a corresponding to a first display area 410 a, on which a first player is conducting the bonus game. The left display screen 404 also displays a second bonus screen 500 b corresponding to a second display area 410 b, on which a second player is conducting the bonus game. A right display screen 406 displays a third bonus screen 500 c corresponding to a third display area 410 c, on which a third player is conducting the bonus game. The right display screen 406 also displays a fourth bonus screen 500 d corresponding to a fourth display area 410 c, on which a fourth player is conducting the bonus game.
  • Each of the bonus screens 500 a-500 d includes an award region 502 and a selection region 504. The award region 502 includes a plurality of award indicia 506 showing value amounts that are indicative of different awards. For example, the awards include a 5000 credit award, a 1000 credit award, a 100 credit award, etc.
  • The selection region 504 shows a plurality of selections (or picks) 508, which are generally symbols that are selectable by a player to reveal a hidden (or mystery) outcome. For example, the hidden outcome can be an award such as a credit award.
  • A Player Wins region 510 is displayed below each selection region 504 and an Everyone Wins region 512 a-512 b is displayed in each of the display screens 404, 406. Specifically, a left Everyone Wins region 512 a is displayed above the first bonus screen 500 a and the second bonus screen 500 b, and a right Everyone Wins region 512 b is displayed above the third bonus screen 500 c and the fourth bonus screen 500 d.
  • For each of the bonus screens 500 a-500 d, a first connector tube 514 connects the Player Wins region 510 with the selection region 504. Similarly, a second connector tube 516 connects the selection region 504 with the award region 502, and a third connector tube 518 connects the award region 502 with a respective one of the Everyone Wins regions 512 a, 521 b.
  • The display areas 410 a-410 d (which correspond to gaming terminals 408 a-408 d) generally replicate the selection region 504 in a corresponding player region 520. The player region 520 has an array of selectable elements 522 corresponding to the selections 508. A pair of display connector tubes 524 connects the player region 520 to a Player Wins area 526.
  • Each of the display areas 410 a-410 d includes a pick indicator 528, which identifies the number of picks that are available to the player, and a multiplier indicator 530, which identifies the current Big Event Multiplier that will be applied to a player's wins. The number of picks and multipliers may vary from player to player. For example, according to an illustrative embodiment, although each player has 5 available picks, the first player has a 3× multiplier, the second player has a 1× multiplier, the third player has a 9× multiplier, and the fourth player has a 2× multiplier. For additional information regarding Big Event Multipliers, the reader is referred to commonly-assigned U.S. patent application Publication No. 2006/0135243, titled “Gaming Machine Having A Community Game With Side Wagering,” published Jun. 22, 2006, and U.S. patent application Publication No. 2009/0042641, titled “Wagering Game With Time-Based Bonus,” published Feb. 12, 2009, each of which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
  • The display areas 410 a-410 d further include an auto-pick notification. According to one example, if the player fails to make a selection within 7 seconds, a selectable element 522 will be automatically selected for the player. For example, the automatic selection can be a random selection made by a controller.
  • Referring to FIG. 6, the display area 410 a of the first player shows that the player begins the bonus game with all selectable elements 522 being in an unselected state. The selectable elements 522 are in the form of a tile array, e.g., a 5×5 array, in which each selectable element 522 is displayed as a separate tile having a graphical symbol, e.g., a light bulb. The other display areas 410 b-410 d show the respective players a similar tile array.
  • Referring to FIG. 7, the first player picks from the selectable elements 522 to reveal a symbol indicative of an award. For example, a first pick has resulted in a 25 credit award 522 a, a second pick has resulted in a 100 credit award 522 b, and a third pick has resulted in a 5 credit award 522 c. The total individual award that is provided only to the first player is 130 credits, as shown in the Player Wins area 526. After making the three picks, the player has 2 picks remaining, as shown in the pick indicator 528.
  • Other players can make picks from their respective display areas 410 c-410 d to win respective individual player awards. For example, as shown in FIGS. 9A-9B, the second player has made two picks for a total individual award of 100 credits, the third player has made three picks for a total individual award of 80 credits, and the fourth player has made one pick for a total individual award of 200 credits. Thus, the individual awards are specific to the player.
  • Referring to FIG. 8, an Everyone Wins Big Event Bonus award is triggered when any player that is participating in the bonus game selects an Everyone Wins tile. For example, the first player's fourth pick has revealed an Everyone Wins symbol 522 d, which is indicative of a community award that is awarded to all the eligible players.
  • Referring to FIGS. 9A-9B, in response to the Everyone Wins symbol 522 d being revealed, a Mr. Monopoly FIG. 900 is illustrated in the first bonus screen 500 a, which is associated with the first player. The Mr. Monopoly figure 900 pulls a lever over the triggering player, i.e., the first player, and one by one the award indicia 506 “blow out,” leaving one or more award indicia 506 “on” or illuminated to identify the awarded value. The sequence of the Mr. Monopoly figure 900 pulling the lever is, then, sequentially illustrated in the second bonus screen 500 b, the third bonus screen 500 c, and the fourth bonus screen 500 d. The community award is a cumulative award from the award indicia 506 of each of the bonus screens 500 a-500 d
  • All eligible players on the bank 400 are awarded the remaining values after the sequence of “blowing out” of the award indicia 506. In the first bonus screen 500 a, the only remaining award indicia 506 a identifies a 250 credit award. In the second bonus screen 500 b, the only remaining award indicia 506 b identifies a 25 credit award. In the third bonus screen 500 c, the only remaining award indicia 506 c identifies a 500 credit award. No award indicia 506 remain in the fourth bonus screen 500 d. Thus, the total community award is 775 credits, as displayed in the Everyone Wins regions 512 a-512 b.
  • The bonus sequence of the Mr. Monopoly figure 900 pulling the lever can be presented sequentially or simultaneously. For example, a first bonus sequence is presented above the first player and, when the first bonus sequence is over, a second bonus sequence is presented above the second player. A third bonus sequence and a fourth bonus sequence can be similarly presented, respectively, over a third player and a fourth player. Alternatively, all four bonus sequences can be presented generally in the same time.
  • Multiple players can contribute to the community award multiple times. For example, if the first player's last pick is a second Everyone Wins symbol, the first player can further contribute to the community award. Another set of Mr. Monopoly bonus sequences, triggered by the revealing of the second Everyone Wins symbol, can further add to the current community award of 775 credits. Similarly, any of the other players can further contribute to the community award by revealing further Everyone Wins symbols.
  • Referring to FIG. 10, another community bonus game is a Railroad Bonus game. The Railroad bonus game can be triggered, for example, by a Railroad Bonus symbol or a combination of three Railroad Bonus symbols appearing in a community event (e.g., Mr. Monopoly's Big Money Spin). According to another example, the triggering event can be the Railroad Bonus symbol landing on a Railroad property of the Monopoly® board while conducting a Monopoly® theme game.
  • When triggered, the display screens 404, 406 transition to a top view of a train yard, featuring properties 1000 that are separated by railroad tracks 1002. The properties 1000 are of different types and have associated credit values. The players are awarded one or more picks from an array of Monopoly Cards (not shown), which is generally similar to the array of selectable element 522 of FIGS. 5A-5B. Each pick results in a Property type and a Special Bonus Multiplier. In one embodiment, each player is awarded a single pick from an array of Monopoly® cards.
  • The Special Bonus Multiplier is applicable only to the respective player and multiplies an individual award that is awarded to the respective player. The Big Event Multiplier, which is shown in the multiplier indicator 530, is also applicable only to the respective player, but multiplies a community award that is awarded to each of the players. An example of the two multipliers and their effect on the respective awards is provided below.
  • According to the illustrated example, the current pick of the first player has resulted in a First Property type and a 5× Special Bonus Multiplier, and the current pick of the second player has resulted in a Second Property type and a 3× Special Bonus Multiplier. Similarly, the current pick of the third player has resulted in a Third Property type and a 2× Special Bonus Multiplier, and the current pick of the fourth player has resulted in a Fourth Property type and a 3× Special Bonus Multiplier.
  • Referring to FIG. 11, a train (not shown) enters at an entry point 1100 and moves along the railroad tracks 1002, turning randomly in different directions at each railroad junction. The train has a locomotive and a plurality of compartment cars. The train continues to move, as illustrated by the arrows, until the locomotive collides with one of the compartment cars at a collision point 1102, which ends the bonus.
  • All eligible players are awarded the sum of all the values encircled by the train. If a player's Property type was encircled, the player is awarded the value of the encircled property multiplied by the Special Bonus Multiplier.
  • Referring to the illustrated example, the train has encircled four properties 1000 a-1000 d, which have a total value of 165 credits. Specifically, a first property 1000 a has an award value of 25 credits, a second property 1000 b has an award value of 5 credits, a third property 1000 c has an award value of 10 credits, and a fourth property 1000 d has an award value of 50 credits. From the encircled properties 1000 a-1000 d, only one property matches a Property type of the four players. The first property 1000 a matches the Third Property type of the third player. None of the Property types of the other three players are matched.
  • The players receive awards in accordance with the encircled properties. All the players receive a community award, which is the total value of the encircled properties. The community award is multiplied by the Big Event multiplier of the respective players. For example, the first player receives the total value of 165 credits, which is multiplied by the player's 3× Big Event Multiplier, the second player receives the total value of 165 credits, which is multiplied by the player's 1× Big Event Multiplier, and so on.
  • In addition to the community award, the third player also receives an individual award because a match has resulted between the Third Property type and the third property 1000 c encircled by the train. The individual award is the value of 25 credits of the third property 1000 c multiplied by the 5× Special Bonus Multiplier of the third player.
  • Thus, in general, the Railroad Bonus game provides one or more randomly selected community awards (e.g., credit awards of all Properties encircled by the train) to all eligible players of the community bonus game. In addition, in response to any of the randomly selected community awards being associated with a player's pick (e.g., an encircled Property having a Property type that matches a Property type selected by the player), a corresponding individual award is provided to the respective player. Optionally, the total value of the community awards is multiplied by a player-specific community award multiplier (e.g., the Big Event Multiplier) and/or the total value of the individual awards is multiplied by a player-specific special multiplier (e.g., the Special Bonus Multiplier).
  • According to another embodiment, a player may be paid a secondary bonus amount based on a unit of time, such as, for example, 100 credits for every second that a bonus round lasts. For example, a community game includes a feature in which a player may be eliminated while other players continue to play the community game. After being eliminated from the community game, the eliminated player returns to playing the base game on his or her gaming machine.
  • However, as long as the community game continues (without the eliminated player), a timer informs the eliminated player how much of a secondary bonus he or she is earning as a “consolation prize.” Thus, although the eliminated player is no longer participating in the community game, the eliminated player continues to earn or accumulate a secondary bonus award until the community event ends. The longer the community game, the greater the secondary bonus award. The award can be any type of award, including credits, multipliers, game plays, etc.
  • Each of these embodiments and obvious variations thereof is contemplated as falling within the spirit and scope of the claimed invention, which is set forth in the following claims.

Claims (26)

1. A method for conducting a community event in which a plurality of players at respective gaming terminals are participating, the method comprising:
displaying the community event on one or more displays;
displaying a plurality of player-selectable elements for each participating player on at least one of the one or more displays, the player-selectable elements including elements of a first type and a second type;
in response to any participating player selecting an element of the first type, using a controller to award an individual award associated with the selected element of the first type only to the selecting player; and
in response to any participating player selecting an element of the second type, using a controller to award a community award associated with the selected element of the second type to all participating players.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein the individual award and the community award are in form of one or more of a credit award, a multiplier, and game play.
3. The method of claim 1, further comprising providing each participating player with a predetermined number of selections.
4. The method of claim 3, wherein each participating player receives a plurality of individual awards in accordance with selections made by the respective participating player.
5. The method of claim 3, wherein each participating player receives a plurality of community awards in accordance with selections made by all participating players.
6. The method of claim 1, wherein each participating player receives a total award that is the sum of the individual award and the community award.
7. The method of claim 1, further comprising awarding another community award in response to another participating player selecting another element of the second type.
8. The method of claim 1, further comprising awarding another community award in response to the participating player selecting another element of the second type.
9. The method of claim 1, wherein the community award is randomly selected from a group of community awards displayed on the one or more displays.
10. The method of claim 1, further comprising:
randomly selecting a first community award from a first group of community awards associated with a first participating player; and
randomly selecting a second community award from a second group of community awards associated with a second participating player;
wherein both the first community award and the second community award are randomly selected in response to the participating player selecting the element of the second type, the community award being the sum of the first community award and the second community award.
11. The method of claim 1, further comprising revealing the individual award upon the player selecting the element of the first type.
12. The method of claim 1, wherein the plurality of selectable elements are displayed in the form of an array.
13. The method of claim 1, further including triggering the community event while the plurality of participating players are playing wagering games at the respective gaming terminals.
14. A gaming system for playing a community event in which a plurality of players at respective gaming terminals are participating, comprising:
one or more displays for displaying the community event thereon, the community event including a plurality of player-selectable elements having elements of a first type and a second type; and
at least one controller in communication with the one or more displays, the controller being operative to
in response to any participating player selecting an element of the first type, award an individual award associated with the selected element of the first type only to the selecting player, and
in response to any participating player selecting an element of the second type, awarding a community award associated with the selected element of the second type to all participating players.
15. The gaming system of claim 14, wherein the individual award and the community award are selected from a group consisting of a credit award, a multiplier award, and a game play award.
16. The gaming system of claim 14, wherein a predetermined number of selections is displayed on each of the one or more displays, the predetermined number being specific to each participating player.
17. The gaming system of claim 14, wherein the plurality of player-selectable elements are displayed in the form of an array, the array being displayed on the community event and on each of the one or more displays.
18. The gaming system of claim 14, wherein at least one of the individual award and the community award is a mystery award.
19. The gaming system of claim 14, wherein the controller is further operative to, in response to the selecting of the element of the second type, randomly select the community award from a group of awards displayed on the community display.
20. The gaming system of claim 19, wherein the group of awards includes a set of awards displayed for each of the participating players, the community award having a total value including at least one award randomly selected from each of two or more sets of awards.
21. A computer program product comprising a computer readable medium having an instruction set borne thereby, the instruction set being configured to cause, upon execution by a controller, the acts of:
displaying on one or more displays a community event in which plurality of players at respective gaming terminals are participating;
displaying on at least one of the one or more displays a plurality of player-selectable elements for each participating player, the player-selectable elements including elements of a first type and a second type;
in response to any participating player selecting an element of the first type, awarding an individual award associated with the selected element of the first type only to the selecting player; and
in response to any participating player selecting an element of the second type, awarding a community award associated with the selected element of the second type to all participating players.
22. The computer program product of claim 21, wherein the individual award and the community award are in form of one or more of a credit award, a multiplier, and game play.
23. The computer program product of claim 21, further comprising awarding to each participating player a total award that is the sum of the individual award and the community award.
24. The computer program product of claim 21, further comprising awarding another community award in response to another participating player selecting another element of the second type.
25. The computer program product of claim 21, further comprising awarding another community award in response to the participating player selecting another element of the second type.
26. The computer program product of claim 21, further comprising randomly selecting the community award from a group of community awards displayed on the one or more displays.
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