US20120028703A1 - Virtual banks for community group bonus games - Google Patents

Virtual banks for community group bonus games Download PDF

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Publication number
US20120028703A1
US20120028703A1 US13/191,675 US201113191675A US2012028703A1 US 20120028703 A1 US20120028703 A1 US 20120028703A1 US 201113191675 A US201113191675 A US 201113191675A US 2012028703 A1 US2012028703 A1 US 2012028703A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
player
game
associated
wagering game
virtual bank
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Abandoned
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US13/191,675
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Peter R. Anderson
Andrew C. Guinn
Daniel P. Louie
Joel R. Jaffe
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Bally Gaming Inc
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WMS Gaming Inc
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Priority to US36790610P priority Critical
Application filed by WMS Gaming Inc filed Critical WMS Gaming Inc
Priority to US13/191,675 priority patent/US20120028703A1/en
Assigned to WMS GAMING, INC. reassignment WMS GAMING, INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: ANDERSON, PETER R., JAFFE, JOEL R., LOUIE, DANIEL P., GUINN, ANDREW C.
Publication of US20120028703A1 publication Critical patent/US20120028703A1/en
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
    • G07F17/326Game play aspects of gaming systems
    • G07F17/3272Games involving multiple players
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/3244Payment aspects of a gaming system, e.g. payment schemes, setting payout ratio, bonus or consolation prizes
    • G07F17/3258Cumulative reward schemes, e.g. jackpots

Abstract

A wagering game system and its operations are described herein. In some embodiments, the operations can include initiating, at a wagering game server, a wagering game session for a player at a gaming machine. The operations can also include relating the wagering game session associated with the player to a virtual bank of related wagering games sessions associated with one or more additional players, where the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions is associated with a community group bonus game. The operations can further include determining when the community group bonus game is triggered for the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions, determining game results of the community group bonus game, and determining an award for the player and for each of the one or more additional players associated with the virtual bank based, at least in part, on the game results of the community group bonus game.

Description

    RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application claims the priority benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/367,906 filed Jul. 27, 2010.
  • LIMITED COPYRIGHT WAIVER
  • 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. Copyright 2011, WMS Gaming, Inc.
  • FIELD
  • Embodiments of the inventive subject matter relate generally to wagering game systems, and more particularly to implementing virtual banks for community group bonus games in wagering game systems.
  • BACKGROUND
  • Wagering game machines, 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 depends 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. Where the available gaming options include a number of competing wagering game machines and the expectation of winning at each machine is roughly the same (or believed to be the same), players are likely to be attracted to the most entertaining and exciting machines. Shrewd operators consequently strive to employ the most entertaining and exciting machines, features, and enhancements available because such machines attract frequent play and hence increase profitability to the operator. Therefore, there is a continuing need for wagering game machine manufacturers to continuously develop new games and gaming enhancements that will attract frequent play.
  • Traditionally, wagering game machines have been confined to physical buildings, like casinos (e.g., major casinos, road-side casinos, etc.). The casinos are located in specific geographic locations that are authorized to present wagering games to casino patrons. However, with the proliferation of interest and use of the Internet, some wagering game manufacturers have recognized that a global public network, such as the Internet, can reach to various locations of the world that have been authorized to present wagering games. Consequently, some wagering game manufacturers have created wagering games that can be processed by personal computing devices and offered via online casino websites (“online casinos”).
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
  • Embodiments are illustrated in the Figures of the accompanying drawings in which:
  • FIG. 1 is a conceptual diagram illustrating an example mechanism for implementing virtual banks of related wagering game sessions associated with a community group bonus game in a wagering game system, according to some embodiments;
  • FIG. 2 is an example graphical representation of a virtual bank of related wagering game sessions associated with a community group bonus game, according to some embodiments;
  • FIG. 3 is a conceptual diagram that illustrates an example of a wagering game system architecture, according to some embodiments;
  • FIG. 4 is a flow diagram illustrating operations for implementing a virtual bank of related wagering game sessions associated with a community group bonus game in a wagering game system, according to some embodiments;
  • FIG. 5 is a flow diagram illustrating additional operations for implementing a virtual bank of related wagering game sessions associated with a community group bonus game in a wagering game system, according to some embodiments;
  • FIG. 6 is a flow diagram illustrating operations for forming a virtual bank of related wagering game sessions associated with a community group bonus game in a wagering game system, according to some embodiments;
  • FIG. 7 is a conceptual diagram that illustrates an example of a wagering game machine architecture, according to some embodiments; and
  • FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a wagering game machine, according to example embodiments.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS
  • This description of the embodiments is divided into five sections. The first section provides an introduction to some embodiments, while the second section describes example wagering game machine architectures. The third section describes example operations performed by some embodiments and the fourth section describes example wagering game machines in more detail. The fifth section presents some general comments.
  • Introduction
  • This section provides an introduction to some embodiments.
  • Wagering game systems offer wagering game players (“players”) entertainment value and the opportunity to win monetary value. In some embodiments, a wagering game system can dynamically create and manage various virtual banks of related wagering game sessions for a plurality of players that want to play community group bonus games. The related wagering game sessions of each virtual bank are associated with the same community group bonus game that can be triggered for all the players in the virtual bank while playing one or more types of base wagering games, as will be further described below with reference to FIGS. 1-6. Players can access the wagering game system to join a virtual bank of related wagering game sessions via one or more physical casinos and/or online casinos that are part of the wagering game system.
  • FIG. 1 is a conceptual diagram illustrating an example mechanism for implementing virtual banks of related wagering game sessions associated with a community group bonus game in a wagering game system, according to some embodiments. In the example shown in FIG. 1, the wagering game system (“system”) 100 includes a wagering game server 150 connected to one or more wagering game machines (“gaming machines”) 160 via a communications network 155 (e.g., a local area network (LAN), wireless LAN (WLAN), etc.). The wagering game server 150 is also connected to other gaming machines 160 via the Internet 157. The gaming machines 160 can be primarily dedicated for use in conducting wagering games in one or more physical casinos (e.g., casino floor standing models, handheld mobile units, bar-top models, etc.), and can access the communications network 155 to communicate with the wagering game server 150 via a wireless or wired connection. The gaming machines 160 can also include non-dedicated devices (e.g., desktop personal computers (PCs), mobile phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), laptop computers, etc.), which can allow players to play wagering games remotely via the Internet 157.
  • In one example, at stage A, the gaming machine 160 provides a player's login information and game selection information to the wagering game server 150 via the Internet 157 to gain access to wagering games offered by the wagering game system 100. For example, the player can gain access to an online casino implemented by the wagering game server 150. The player's login information may include a username, password, player card information, biometric information, account number, and/or other information used for uniquely verifying the identity of the player and locating the player's wagering game system account. The game selection information may include a game ID or other type of information uniquely identifying the wagering game selected by the player at the gaming machine 160. In some examples, the game selection information can indicate that the player wants to join a virtual bank of related wagering game sessions that are associated with a community group bonus game. The player may also request to join a virtual bank after the player's wagering game session is initiated.
  • In some embodiments, the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions that are associated with the community group bonus game may comprise a plurality of wagering game sessions (associated with the wagering game accounts of a plurality of players) that are associated with the same community group bonus game. The related wagering game sessions of the virtual bank can be associated with the same community group bonus game such that, when the community group bonus game is triggered for the virtual bank, all the related wagering game sessions are provided an award based on the game results of the same instance of the community group bonus game. In one example, each player associated with the virtual bank separately plays a base wagering game (which could be the same or different base wagering game as the other players) until the community group bonus game is triggered for the virtual bank. While each player plays the base wagering game, each player builds up a bonus multiplier based on the player's activity in the base wagering game. For example, the amount wagered and the speed of play while the player plays the base wagering game can all increase the value of the bonus multiplier. The bonus multiplier indicates the multiple by which the game results of the community group bonus game are multiplied by to determine each player's award. Therefore, although all the players in the bank are provided an award based on the game results of the same instance of the community group bonus game, some players can win a larger award than other players by building up their bonus multiplier.
  • At stage B, the wagering game server 150 initiates a wagering game session for the player. In one embodiment, the wagering game server 150 identifies the player's wagering game system account based on the login information received from the gaming machine 160. The wagering game server 150 determines the player's account balance and other account related information used to initiate a wagering game session for the player. The wagering game server 150 also determines the base wagering game the player wants to play based on the game selection information received from the gaming machine 160. The wagering game server 150 can then prepare to present an instance of the base wagering game at the gaming machine 160. Furthermore, in one example, the wagering game server 150 can determine that the player wants to join a virtual bank of related wagering game sessions associated with the community group bonus game based on the received game selection information or subsequent player input.
  • At stage C, the wagering game server 150 relates the player's wagering game session to a virtual bank of related wagering game sessions associated with a plurality of additional players and the community group bonus game. In one embodiment, the wagering game sessions of multiple players can be related to one another by associating the wagering game sessions to the same instance of the community group bonus game. In one example, the wagering game server 150 can link the wagering game sessions to the same instance of the community group bonus game, such that all the wagering game sessions display the same instance of the community group bonus game (when the bonus game is triggered), and the game results of the community group bonus game are used to determine the award each player of the virtual bank earns from the bonus game, as will be further described below. Furthermore, the wagering game server 150 can provide an indication to each player that the wagering game sessions are linked to the same instance of the community group bonus game by presenting a graphical representation of the virtual bank on the display of each of the gaming machines 160 associated with the players, as will be further described below.
  • In some embodiments, the wagering game server 150 can relate the player's wagering game session to an existing virtual bank of related wagering game sessions associated with the community group bonus game. In one example, each virtual bank of related wagering game sessions may have a limit on the number of wagering game sessions that can join the virtual bank. For example, the wagering game server 150 can be configured to limit the number of related wagering game sessions in a virtual bank to 8 wagering game sessions. The wagering game server 150 can determine which of the existing virtual banks of related wagering game sessions have not reach the predefined limit. The wagering game server 150 may add the player's wagering game session to one of the existing virtual bank that have not reached the predefined limit. If all the existing virtual banks have reached the predefined limit, the wagering game server 150 can create a new virtual bank for the player (and for one or more additional players). It is noted, however, that in other embodiments the players may be provided the option to initiate and customize new virtual banks and/or the players may be added to existing virtual banks by other techniques, as will be further described below with reference to FIG. 6.
  • At stage D, the gaming machine 160 presents a graphical representation of the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions on a display of the gaming machine 160 associated with the player. In one embodiment, the wagering game server 150 can cause the gaming machine 160 associated with the player to present the graphical representation of the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions. For example, the wagering game server 150 can provide game content associated with the base wagering game, the player's wagering game system account information (e.g., account balance), the player's virtual gaming community information (e.g., virtual gaming community profile), information associated with the other wagering game sessions of the virtual bank, and other game-related information, to cause the gaming machine 160 to present the graphical representation of the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions. FIG. 2 illustrates an example graphical representation of the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions associated with the community group bonus game, according to some embodiments. In this example, the graphical representation of the virtual bank 200 can include a plurality of graphical elements 205 that represent each of the related wagering game sessions of the virtual bank and visually indicate the number of related wagering game sessions (and players) of the virtual bank. For example, as illustrated in FIG. 2, each of the graphical elements 205 can be an icon of a casino floor wagering game machine. The icons can be arranged in a row such that they resemble a physical bank of wagering game machines in a casino floor. It is noted, however, that in other implementations the graphical elements 205 can be icons representing the theme of the base wagering game being played in the gaming machine 160, icons representing the theme of the community group bonus game, graphical elements that are customizable by each of the players (e.g., customizable avatars), a thumbnail graphical representation of the base wagering game each player is playing, or other types of graphical elements. The graphical representation of the virtual bank 200 can also include identification information associated with each player of the virtual bank (e.g., each player's virtual gaming community username, nickname, etc.), and player status and/or performance information associated with each of the wagering game sessions. For example, as illustrated in FIG. 2, each player's username 204 can be displayed below the corresponding graphical element 205. Also, an indication of each player's current bonus multiplier 206 can be superimposed over the graphical element 205. The value of the bonus multiplier associated with each player can be dynamically updated in all of the gaming machines 160 as the players build up their bonus multipliers while playing the base wagering games. In other examples, additional information associated with each player can be displayed along with the graphical elements 205, such as the amount each player wins after each round of the base wagering game, the amount each player wins after the community group bonus game, a graphical indication of each player's status and/or awards in the virtual gaming community, etc. Furthermore, the graphical representation of the virtual bank 200 displayed at each gaming machine 160 includes the base wagering game 210 being played by each player (e.g., video of reels spinning), a button panel 215, a balance indicator 230, and a side panel 220 for additional gaming-related features. For example, the side panel 220 can include a system wide progressive section 221 (e.g., listing the jackpot amounts for one or more progressives), a virtual gaming community section 222 (e.g., listing each player's friends from the virtual gaming community that are currently playing in a physical casino or online casino associated with the wagering game system 100), a game chat section 223 (e.g., chat for the players in the virtual bank), and a news feed section 224 (e.g., real-time reporting of casino-related news, promotions, big wins, etc.). It is noted, however, that in other examples the graphical representation of the virtual bank 200 may include other features, such as display customization options, various menus listing options and features for the casino, for the virtual bank and/or for the displayed games, etc. It is also noted that, in other examples, the default placement of the different graphical components of the virtual bank within the display window of a gaming machine 160 can vary and may be customizable by the player. The graphical elements 205 that represent all the related wagering game sessions and the corresponding players of the virtual bank can provide players a community gaming experience, whether the players are at one or more physical casinos or online accessing one or more online casino websites. The community aspect of the virtual bank is further emphasized by having all the players of the virtual bank win an award that is based on the game results of the community group bonus game.
  • At stage E, the wagering game server 150 determines when the community group bonus game is triggered for the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions. In one embodiment, the community group bonus game is triggered randomly for the virtual bank while the players play the base wagering game. For example, the wagering game server 150 can determine when the community group bonus game is triggered based on a random number generator. In another embodiment, the community group bonus game is triggered randomly but with a time limit. For example, the wagering game server 150 can start a timer after the community group bonus game is played out. If the community group bonus game is not randomly triggered once again within a predefined time limit (e.g., 10 minutes), the wagering game server 150 detects that the time limit has been reached and automatically triggers the community group bonus game. It is noted, however, that in other embodiments the community group bonus game can be triggered based on other factors; e.g., the community group bonus game can be triggered based on the gaming activity of the players in the virtual bank (e.g., amounts wagered, number of max bets in a row, speed of play, etc.). After the wagering game server 150 determines that the community group bonus game is triggered, the wagering game server 150 initiates the community group bonus game for presentation on the gaming machines 160 associated with the virtual bank. For example, the wagering game server 150 can provide game content, account information, and other game-related information to cause the gaming machines 160 to present the community group bonus game to the players. In some embodiments, when the community group bonus game is triggered for a virtual bank, all the players in the virtual bank are eligible to win bonus awards in the community group bonus game. In other embodiments, when the community group bonus game is triggered, only the players that have wagered an extra amount (in addition to the regular wager for the base wagering game) will be eligible to participate and win bonus awards in the community group bonus game.
  • At stage F, the gaming machine 160 presents the community group bonus game. For example, the gaming machine 160 presents the community group bonus game to the player using the game content, account information, and other game-related information received from the wagering game server 150. In one embodiment, prior to starting the community group bonus game, the wagering game server 150 selects one of the players associated with the related wagering game sessions of the virtual bank to be an active participant in the community group bonus game (e.g., make selections in a picking bonus game), as will be further described below with reference to FIG. 5. The player that is selected to be the active participant in the community group bonus game may be referred to as the “lucky player” of the virtual bank.
  • At stage G, the wagering game server 150 determines the game results of the community group bonus game. For example, in a slot-based bonus game, the wagering game server 150 determines the game results for each spin of the community group bonus game (e.g., using a random number generator). In one embodiment, when the community group bonus game is triggered, the wagering game server 150 determines how many free spins and related features (e.g., wild reels, extra free spins, extra bonus games, etc.) to award to the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions. In one example, the wagering game server 150 can determine how many free spins and other bonus features to award to the virtual bank based on selections made by the “lucky player” of the virtual bank, as will be further described below with reference to FIG. 5.
  • At stage H, the wagering game server 150 determines the award (e.g., monetary award) each player wins based on game results of the community group bonus game and the value of each player's multiplier. For example, in a slot-based bonus game, the wagering game server 150 determines the monetary award each player wins after each spin of the community group bonus game. In one example, if the first spin of the community group bonus game results in a win of $10 for the virtual bank shown in FIG. 2, the player named BULLS_FAN91 will be awarded $70 for the first spin because the player earned a 7× multiplier while playing the base wagering game. Similarly, the player named JACKPOT_JO will be awarded only $10 for the first spin because the player only earned a 1× multiplier, and the player KA-CHING72 will be awarded $100 for the first spin because the player earned a 10× multiplier.
  • The graphical representation of the virtual bank 200 shown in FIG. 2 is temporarily changed when the community group bonus game is triggered and presented at each of the gaming machines 160. For example, when the community group bonus game is triggered, the wagering game server 150 causes each of the gaming machines 160 to superimpose a notification message over the base wagering game 210 notifying the players that the bonus game has been triggered. When the community group bonus game is presented at each gaming machine 160, the section of the graphical representation of the virtual bank 200 that displays the base wagering game 210 is changed to display the community group bonus game. Also, when the community group bonus game is started, the section that displayed the graphical elements 205 may be changed to display a real-time leaderboard showing how much total money each player in the virtual bank has won after each spin. Also, at each gaming machine 160, the section that displayed the graphical elements 205 can display an indication of how much each player wins for each spin. After the community group bonus game is completed, the wagering game server 150 can superimpose a summary notification at each gaming machine 160 indication the total monetary award each player won based on the game results and the value of the player's multiplier. In some examples, when the wagering game server 150 selects a “lucky player” for the virtual bank, the wagering game server 150 can cause the gaming machines 160 to present a visual representation or an animation of the selection of the “lucky player” for the virtual bank, and also a visual representation of the “lucky player” making bonus game selections for the virtual bank, as will be further described below. It is noted that the wagering game server 150 can also cause the gaming machines 160 to present other audio-visual elements within the graphical representation of the virtual bank 200. For example, for a slot-based game, the graphical elements 205 may be an animation of an avatar (customized by each player) pulling the slot handle (and increasing the value of the multiplier) as the player plays the base wagering game. The avatar may also have the same theme as the base wagering game or the community group bonus game. In another example, the graphical elements 205 can comprise real-time (or slightly delayed) video of the base wagering game of each player (e.g., video of the reels spinning and stopping). It is noted, however, that in other embodiments the graphical representation of the virtual bank 200 may be different; for example, the graphical representation of the virtual bank 200 can show the results after each spin of the community group bonus game and the amount awarded to each player next to the corresponding graphical element 205 (instead of displaying a real-time leaderboard). Also, in some embodiments, the graphical representation of the virtual bank 200 can be configurable by each of the players.
  • It is noted that the players associated with the virtual banks of related wagering game session may be online players that access the wagering game system 100 via the Internet 157 (e.g., an online casino implemented within the wagering game server 150), or players at one or more physical casinos that are part of the wagering game system 100. Also, in some embodiments, a virtual bank of related wagering game sessions can be comprised of online players and/or players at one or more physical casinos.
  • Although FIG. 1 describes some embodiments, the following sections describe many other features and embodiments.
  • Operating Environment
  • This section describes example operating environments and networks and presents structural aspects of some embodiments. More specifically, this section includes discussion about wagering game system architectures.
  • Wagering Game System Architectures
  • FIG. 3 is a conceptual diagram that illustrates an example of a wagering game system architecture 300, according to some embodiments. As illustrated, the wagering game system architecture 300 includes a wagering game controller 310 and a plurality of gaming machines 360. The wagering game controller 310 is configured to control game content (e.g., game elements, game updates, game results, etc.) and communicate game-related information and other information (e.g., virtual gaming community services) to and from the plurality of gaming machines 360. In one example, the wagering game controller 310 includes a wagering game server 350, an account server 370, and a community server 380. The wagering game controller 310 may be configured to communicate with other systems, devices, and networks. For example, the wagering game controller 310 may be configured to communicate (e.g., via the Internet 392) with one or more additional physical casinos (e.g., casino network 398), and/or one or more remote wagering game servers that host and manage one or more additional online casinos (e.g., remote wagering game server 395). For example, the wagering game controller 310 can communicate with the casino network 398 and the remote wagering game server 395 to implement virtual banks of related wagering game sessions associated with a community group bonus game across multiple networks associated with the wagering game system 300 (e.g., as described herein with reference to FIGS. 1-6).
  • The wagering game server 350 is configured to manage and control content for presentation on the gaming machines 360. As illustrated, in some embodiments, the wagering game server 350 includes a game management unit 352 configured to manage game content and provide (e.g., stream) game content and other game-related information to the gaming machines 360 associated with primary (or base) wagering games and secondary wagering games (e.g., bonus games). The game management unit 352 is configured to generate (e.g., using a random numbers generator) game results (e.g., win/loss values), including win amounts, for wagering games played on the gaming machines 360. The game management unit 352 can communicate the game results to the gaming machines 360 via the network 355. In some embodiments, the game management unit 352 can also generate random numbers and provide them to the gaming machines 360 so that the gaming machines 360 can generate game results. The wagering game server 350 can also include a content store 354 configured to store content used for presenting wagering games (e.g., base games, secondary bonus games, etc.) and other game-related information associated with wagering games presented on the gaming machines 360 of the system 300. The wagering game server 350 can also include a virtual bank management unit 356 configured to initiate and manage the virtual banks of related wagering game sessions, as described herein with reference to FIGS. 1-2 and 4-6.
  • The account server 370 is configured to control player-related accounts accessible via the wagering game system 300. The account server 370 can manage player financial accounts (e.g., performing funds transfers, deposits, withdrawals, etc.) and player information (e.g., avatars, screen name, account identification numbers, social contacts, financial information, etc.). The account server 370 can also provide auditing capabilities, according to regulatory rules, and track the performance of players, machines, and servers. The account server 370 can include an account controller configured to control information for player wagering game system accounts. The account server 370 can also include an account store configured to store information for player wagering game system accounts.
  • The community server 380 is configured to provide a wide range of services to members of virtual gaming communities. For example, the community server 380 may allow players to:
  • Create Social Networks—When creating social networks, members can create electronic associations that inform network members when selected members are: 1) online, 2) performing activities, 3) reaching milestones, 4) etc.
  • Establish a Reputation—Community members can establish reputations based on feedback from other community members, based on accomplishments in the community, based on who is in their social network, etc.
  • Provide Content—Community members can provide content by uploading media, designing wagering games, maintaining blogs, etc.
  • Filter Content—Community members can filter content by rating content, commenting on content, or otherwise distinguishing content.
  • Interact with Other Members—Community members can interact via newsgroups, chat, e-mail, discussion boards, instant messaging, etc.
  • Participate in Community Activities—Community members can participate in community activities, such as multi-player games, bonus games, interactive meetings, discussion groups, real-life meetings, etc.
  • Connect Casino Players to Online Members—Community members who are playing in casinos can interact with members who are online. For example, online members may be able to: see activities of social contacts in the casino, chat with casino players, participate in community games involving casino players, etc.
  • In some embodiments, the community server 380 enables online community members (e.g., operating a personal computer (PC) or a mobile device) to participate in and/or monitor wagering games that are being presented in one or more casinos. The community server 380 can enable community members to connect with and track each other. For example, the community server 380 can enable community members to select other members to be part of a social network. The community server 380 can also enable members of a social network to track what other social network members are doing in a virtual gaming community and a real-world casino. For example, in some implementations, the community server 380 assists in enabling members of a social network to see when network members are playing wagering game tables and machines in a casino, accessing a virtual gaming community web site, achieving milestones (e.g., winning large wagers in a casino), etc.
  • The community server 380 can store and manage content for a virtual gaming community For example, in some embodiments, the community server 380 can host a web site for a virtual gaming community. In one example, the virtual gaming community website may include, or provide access to, one or more online casinos. Additionally, the community server 380 can enable community members and administrators to add, delete, and/or modify content for virtual gaming communities. For example, the community server 380 can enable community members to post media files, member-designed games, commentaries, etc., all for consumption by members of a virtual gaming community.
  • The community server 380 can track behavior and gaming activity of community members. In some embodiments, the community server 380 tracks how individuals and/or groups use the services and content available in a virtual gaming community. The community server 380 can then report the gaming activity of each player to the wagering game server 350. The community server 380 can analyze member behavior and categorize community members based on their behavior. The community server 380 can configure network components to customize content based on individual and/or group habits.
  • The community server 380 can manage various promotions offered to members of a virtual gaming community. For example, the promotions community server 380 can distribute promotional material when members achieve certain accomplishments (e.g., scores for online games) in a virtual gaming community Members may use some of the promotional material when playing wagering games in a casino.
  • The gaming machines 360 are configured to present wagering games and receive and transmit information (e.g., to/from the wagering game server 350) to control the content that is presented for the wagering games (e.g., base wagering games and secondary wagering games). The gaming machines 360 can include input devices 362, a wagering game unit 364, a content store 366, and a presentation unit 368. The input devices 362 may include buttons, joysticks, touch screens, cameras, etc., used to detect player input associated with wagering games. The wagering game unit 364 is configured to manage and control the game content that is presented on the gaming machine 360. The wagering game unit 364 can also provide game activity information to the wagering game server 350 in order for the wagering game server 350 to monitor each player's gaming activity. Furthermore, the wagering game unit 364 can generate game results based on random numbers received from the wagering game server 350, or may communicate with the wagering game server 350 to obtain the game results. The content store 366 is configured to store content that is presented on the wagering game machine 360. The presentation unit 368 is configured to control the presentation of the game content on the wagering game machine 360. The presentation unit 368 can include one or more browsers and any other software and/or hardware suitable for presenting audio and video content. It is noted, however, that in other implementations the game content can be presented using other display technologies.
  • The gaming machines described herein (e.g., gaming machines 360) can take any suitable form, such as floor standing models, handheld mobile units, bartop models, workstation-type console models, surface computing machines, etc., and can access a communication network 355 to communication with the wagering game controller 310 via a wireless or wired connection. Further, gaming machines can be primarily dedicated for use in conducting wagering games, or can include non-dedicated devices, such as personal computers (PC), mobile phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), laptop computers, etc. For example, the non-dedicated devices can provide players access to wagering games via a wireless network within a physical casino, or remotely via the Internet 392.
  • In some embodiments, each of the gaming machines 360 and the wagering game server 350 are configured to work together such that the gaming machine 360 can be operated as a thin, thick, or intermediate client. For example, one or more elements of game play may be controlled by the gaming machine 360 (client) or the wagering game server 350 (server). Game play elements can include executable game code, lookup tables, configuration files, game results, audio or visual representations of the game, game assets or the like. In a thin-client example, the wagering game server 350 can perform functions such as determining game results or managing assets, while the gaming machine 360 can present an audible/graphical representation of such outcome or asset modification to the players. In a thick-client example, the gaming machine 360 can determine game outcomes and communicate the outcomes to the wagering game server 350 for recording or managing a player's wagering game system account.
  • In some embodiments, either the gaming machines (client) or the wagering game server(s) can provide functionality that is not directly related to game play. For example, account transactions and account rules may be managed centrally (e.g., by the wagering game server(s)) or locally (e.g., by the gaming machines). Other functionality not directly related to game play may include power management, presentation of advertising, software or firmware updates, system quality or security checks, etc.
  • Each component shown in the wagering game system architecture 300 is shown as a separate and distinct element connected via the communications network 355. However, some functions performed by one component could be performed by other components. For example, the wagering game server 350 can be configured to perform some or all of the functions of the account server 370, and/or the game management unit 352 can be configured to perform some or all of the functions of the virtual bank management unit 356. Furthermore, the components shown may all be contained in one device, but some, or all, may be included in, or performed by multiple devices, as in the configurations shown in FIG. 3 or other configurations not shown, e.g., the virtual bank management unit 356 can be distributed across the wagering game server 350 and the gaming machines 360. Furthermore, the wagering game system architecture 300 can be implemented as software, hardware, any combination thereof, or other forms of embodiments not listed. For example, any of the network components (e.g., the wagering game tables, machines, servers, etc.) can include hardware and machine-readable media including instructions for performing the operations described herein. Machine-readable media includes any mechanism that provides (i.e., stores and/or transmits) information in a form readable by a machine (e.g., a wagering game table, machine, computer, etc.). For example, tangible machine-readable storage media includes read only memory (ROM), random access memory (RAM), magnetic disk storage media, optical storage media, flash memory machines, and other types of tangible medium suitable for storing instructions. Machine-readable transmission media includes any media suitable for transmitting software over a network.
  • Although FIG. 3 describes some embodiments, the following sections describe many other features and embodiments.
  • Example Operations
  • This section describes operations associated with some embodiments. In the discussion below, the flow diagrams will be described with reference to the block diagrams presented above. However, in some embodiments, the operations can be performed by logic not described in the block diagrams.
  • In certain embodiments, the operations can be performed by executing instructions residing on machine-readable storage media (e.g., software), while in other embodiments, the operations can be performed by hardware and/or other logic (e.g., firmware). In some embodiments, the operations can be performed in series, while in other embodiments, one or more of the operations can be performed in parallel. Moreover, some embodiments can perform less than all the operations shown in any flow diagram.
  • The following discussion of FIGS. 4-6 describes example mechanisms for implementing virtual banks of related wagering game sessions in a wagering game system.
  • FIG. 4 is a flow diagram (“flow”) 400 illustrating operations for implementing a virtual bank of related wagering game sessions associated with a community group bonus game in a wagering game system, according to some embodiments. The flow of 400 will be described with reference to the example system architecture of FIG. 3. The flow diagram begins at block 402.
  • At block 402, the wagering game server 350 initiates a wagering game session for a plurality of players. In one embodiment, the game management unit 352 of the wagering game server 350 accesses the account server 370 to identify each player's wagering game system account based on the login information received from each of the gaming machine 360 associated with the players. The game management unit 352 determines each player's account balance, and other account related information used to initiate a wagering game session for the player. The game management unit 352 may also determine each player's virtual gaming community username, player preferences, avatar configurations, and other player profile related information. The game management unit 352 also determines the base wagering game each player wants to play based on the game selection information received from each gaming machine 360. After block 402, the flow continues at block 404.
  • At block 404, the wagering game server 350 determines that the plurality of players want to participate in a virtual bank of related wagering game sessions associated with a community group bonus game. For example, the virtual bank management unit 356 of the wagering game server 350 can detect when a player selects an option (e.g., button, menu item, etc.) at the corresponding gaming machine 360 that indicates that the player wants to play a community group bonus game. The player can select the option to play the community group bonus game before or after the player selects the base wagering game. In one example, the virtual bank management unit 356 can provide various options for the type and/or themes of base wagering games that can be played within the virtual bank associated with the community group bonus game. The virtual bank management unit 356 also determines whether each of the plurality of players want to join an existing virtual bank of related wagering game sessions, or whether one or more of the players want to create and customize a new virtual bank, as will be further described below with reference to FIG. 6. It is noted that the plurality of players can be online players accessing the wagering game system 300 via the Internet 392, and/or players at one or more physical casinos associated with the wagering game system 300. After block 404, the flow continues at block 406.
  • At block 406, the wagering game server 350 relates the wagering game sessions associated with the plurality of players to the same community group bonus game to add the wagering game sessions to an existing virtual bank or to create a new virtual bank of related wagering game sessions. In one embodiment, the virtual bank management unit 356 can relate the wagering game sessions associated with the players by associating the wagering game sessions to the same instance of the community group bonus game. In one example, the instance of the community group bonus game can be associated with an existing virtual bank of related wagering game sessions. In another example, the instance of the community group bonus game can be associated with a new virtual bank of related wagering game sessions. In one embodiment, the virtual bank management unit 356 can associate the wagering game sessions to the same instance of the community group bonus game such that all the wagering game sessions of the virtual bank display the same instance of the community group bonus game (when the bonus game is triggered), and the game results of the community group bonus game are used to determine each player's award from the bonus game (as was described above with reference to FIGS. 1-2). Furthermore, the virtual bank management unit 356 can provide an indication to each player that the wagering game sessions are related by presenting a graphical representation of the virtual bank on the display of each of the gaming machines 360 associated with the players of the virtual bank. After block 406, the flow continues at block 408.
  • At block 408, the wagering game server 350 causes each gaming machine 360 associated with each player that is part of the virtual bank to display a graphical representation of the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions including the base wagering game. For example, the virtual bank management unit 356 causes each gaming machine 360 to display the graphical representation of the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions, as was described above with reference to FIGS. 1 and 2. After block 408, the flow continues at block 410.
  • At block 410, the wagering game server 350 awards a bonus multiplier to each player and dynamically updates the value of each player's bonus multiplier based on each player's gaming activity associated with the base wagering game. In one embodiment, the virtual bank management unit 356 initially awards a 1× bonus multiplier to each player of the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions. The virtual bank management unit 356 determines each player's gaming activity associated with the base wagering game (e.g., by communicating with the game management unit 352 and/or the gaming machines 360) to dynamically update the value of each player's bonus multiplier. In one example, the players can build up the value of their bonus multiplier while playing the base wagering game based on gaming activity such as the amount of each wager, the number of max bets in a row, the speed of play, the number of rounds played, etc. As described above, based on each player's gaming activity, the virtual bank management unit 356 can cause the gaming machines 360 to dynamically update the value of each bonus multiplier that is awarded and displayed in conjunction with the graphical elements 205 (shown in FIG. 2) associated with the players within the graphical representation of the virtual bank 200 at each gaming machine 360. After block 410, the flow continues at block 512 of FIG. 5.
  • FIG. 5 is a flow diagram illustrating additional operations for implementing a virtual bank of related wagering game sessions associated with a community group bonus game in a wagering game system, according to some embodiments. The flow shown in FIG. 5 is a continuation of the flow 400 shown in FIG. 4, and begins at block 512.
  • At block 512, the wagering game server 350 determines when the community group bonus game is triggered for the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions. In one embodiment, the virtual bank management unit 356 determines when the community group bonus game is triggered based on a random number generator (i.e., triggered randomly), based on a time limit, and/or based on the gaming activity of the players of the virtual bank, as was described above with reference to FIG. 1. After block 512, the flow continues at block 514.
  • At block 514, the wagering game server 350 causes the gaming machines 360 of the players associated with the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions to present the community group bonus game. For example, the virtual bank management unit 356 causes the gaming machines 360 to present the community group bonus game in place of, or superimposed over, the base wagering game within the graphical representation of the virtual bank, as was described above with reference to FIGS. 1 and 2. After block 514, the flow continues at block 516.
  • At block 516, the wagering game server 350 selects one of the players associated with the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions to be an active participant during the community group bonus game. The player selected as the active participant for the virtual bank is provided the opportunity to make one or more selections for all the players in the virtual bank that drive the community group bonus game, as will be further described below. The player that is selected to be the active participant during the community group bonus game may be referred to as the “lucky player” of the virtual bank. In one embodiment, the virtual bank management unit 356 can select the lucky player randomly. In another embodiment, the virtual bank management unit 356 can select the lucky player based on the performance of the players in the base wagering games. For example, the player in the virtual bank that has won the most money in the base wagering game when the bonus game is triggered is selected as the lucky player. In another example, the player that has the highest multiplier is selected as the lucky player. In another embodiment, the virtual bank management unit 356 can select the lucky player based on the cumulative game history and/or game achievements of the players. For example, the virtual bank management unit 356 can access the account server 370 (or other network component) to determine the player of the virtual bank that has the most coin-in, or has played the most wagering games, or has won the most money in the wagering game system 300, and then select that player as the lucky player. In another example, the player that is ranked the highest is one or more leaderboards of certain wagering games (e.g., the base wagering game each player is playing) is selected as the lucky player. It is noted, however, that in other embodiments the virtual bank management unit 356 can select the lucky player based on other criteria; for example, the virtual bank management unit 356 can select the lucky player based on participation in the virtual gaming community. For example, the player of the virtual bank that has the most friends in the virtual gaming community, or the player that has invited the most friends to join the virtual gaming community is selected as the lucky player.
  • In one embodiment, after the startup screen of the community group bonus game is displayed, each of the gaming machines 360 of the players associated with the virtual bank can display a notification message indicating that the system is selecting the lucky player. In one example, within the graphical representation of the virtual bank 200 shown in FIG. 2, the gaming machines 360 may display an animation (e.g., an animated hot potato icon or an animated version of the graphical element 205) or other type of visual presentation or indicator (e.g., a highlighted background or spotlight) that moves from one graphical element 205 to the other, until it stops on the lucky player. The player that has been selected as the lucky player is displayed a congratulatory message (and/or a celebration presentation) indicating the player has been selected as the lucky player. The rest of the players are displayed a notification message indicating which player has been selected as the lucky player. It is noted, however, that in other implementations the selection of the lucky player can be presented to the players in various ways; e.g., the gaming machines 360 can display an animation of a horse race or other type of race involving each player's avatars and the player whose avatar reaches the finish line first is selected as the lucky player. After block 516, the flow continues at block 518.
  • At block 518, the wagering game server 350 determines the bonus game features associated with the community group bonus game based on selections made by the player selected as the active participant (“the lucky player”). In one embodiment, the lucky player makes selections for all the players in the virtual bank that drive the community group bonus game. For example, the virtual bank management unit 356 causes the gaming machine 360 associated with the lucky player to present a picking screen that instructs the lucky player to select one of a predefined number of picking elements to reveal the bonus game features that will be associated with the community group bonus game. For instance, the gaming machine 360 can present a predefined number of graphical elements (e.g., icons, pictures, etc.) having the same theme as the community group bonus game and the player selects one of the graphical elements to reveal the bonus game features. In one example, for a slot-based bonus game, the bonus game features may include a number of free spins and some slot bonus features, such as wild reels (e.g., reel 2 wild, reel 4 wild, expanding wild, etc.) and extra free spins. The gaming machines 360 associated with the other players (that are not the lucky player) can display a live (or slightly delayed) video of the lucky player making the selection and the system revealing the bonus game features associated with the selection. For example, if the lucky player selects a graphical element that is associated with 10 free spins and an expanding wild feature, all the gaming machines 360 can display a notification and/or celebration indicating that the virtual bank will receive 10 free spins with an expanding wild feature. After revealing the bonus game features, the community group bonus game is started by spinning the reels. After block 518, the flow continues at block 520.
  • At block 520, the wagering game server 350 determines the game results associated with the community group bonus, and also determines the award for each player based on the bonus game results and each player's multiplier, as was described above with reference to FIG. 1. The wagering game server 350 also causes the gaming machines 350 to present the game results of the community group bonus game, and also present the award provided to each player of the virtual bank. After block 520, the flow ends.
  • FIG. 6 is a flow diagram (“flow”) 600 illustrating operations for forming a virtual bank of related wagering game sessions associated with a community group bonus game in a wagering game system, according to some embodiments. The flow of 600 will be described with reference to the example system architecture of FIG. 3. The flow diagram begins at block 602.
  • At block 602, for each player that wants to participate in a virtual bank of related wagering game sessions associated with a community group bonus game (e.g., determined in block 404 of FIG. 4), the virtual bank management unit 356 of the wagering game server 350 determines whether the player wants to customize a new virtual bank of related wagering game sessions. In one embodiment, in addition to being able to provide input at the gaming machine 360 (e.g., via buttons, touch screen, keyboard, mouse, etc.) indicating that the player wants to participate in a virtual bank, the player can also provide input indicating that the player wants to customize a new virtual bank (or join an existing virtual bank). The gaming machine 360 then sends an indication of the player input to the wagering game server 350. If the player wants to customize a new virtual bank, the flow continues at block 604. Otherwise, the flow continues at block 610.
  • At block 604, the wagering game server 350 causes the gaming machine 360 to present a customization tool to allow the player to customize a new virtual bank of related wagering game sessions. In one embodiment, the virtual bank management unit 356 causes the gaming machine 360 to present a customization tool (e.g., a customization options menu) for customizing a new virtual bank. For example, the customization tool may allow the player to determine how many players to allow to join the virtual bank, the type of community group bonus game, the theme of the community group bonus game, the types of bonus game features offered for the community group bonus game, the type of graphical elements (e.g., graphical elements 205 shown in FIG. 2) displayed within the graphical representation of the virtual bank, the audio (e.g., music) that is played for the virtual bank, etc. The customization tool may also allow the player to designate the new virtual bank as “private” or “public”. The customization tool may allow the player to invite friends from the virtual gaming community to join the new virtual bank. If the new virtual bank is designated as a private virtual bank, only the friends that the player invites to the new virtual bank can join. If the new virtual bank is designated as a public virtual bank, in addition to the friends the player invites to join the new virtual bank, other players accessing the wagering game system 300 can also join. In one example, the virtual bank management unit 356 can provide players that are interested in joining a virtual bank a listing of all the existing virtual banks that are public to give players the option to join virtual banks that were created by other players. The gaming machine 360 provides the customization options selected by the player to the virtual bank management unit 356. After block 604, the flow continues at block 606.
  • At block 606, the wagering game server 350 determines how to customize the new virtual bank of related wagering game sessions based on the selected customization options. In one embodiment, the virtual bank management unit 356 determines how to customize the new virtual bank based on the customization options selected by the player, and prepares to initiate the new virtual bank. After block 606, the flow continues at block 608.
  • At block 608, the wagering game server 350 adds the player and one or more additional players to the customized virtual bank. For example, the virtual bank management unit 356 relates the player's wagering game session to the wagering game sessions of one or more of the player's friends that have indicated they want to join the customized virtual bank. The virtual bank management unit 356 relates the wagering game sessions by associating the wagering game sessions to the same community group bonus game, presenting the graphical representation of the customized virtual bank to the players, etc., as was described above with reference to FIG. 1. The player, however, does not have to wait until other players join the virtual bank. The virtual bank management unit 356 can relate the player's wagering game session to the community group bonus game and initiate the virtual bank with only the player's wagering game session to allow the player to play the base wagering game while the player waits for friends (or other players) to join the virtual bank.
  • At block 610, if the wagering game server 350 determines that the player wants to join an existing virtual bank (at block 602), the wagering game server 350 determines whether the player can join an existing virtual bank. In one embodiment, the virtual bank management unit 356 may be configured to limit the number of players that are added to each virtual bank of related wagering game sessions. For instance, the virtual bank management unit 356 can limit the number of related wagering game sessions in a virtual bank to 8 wagering game sessions, or any other suitable predefined number of related wagering game sessions. In one example, the virtual bank management unit 356 can determine whether any of the existing virtual banks of related wagering game sessions have not reach the predefined limit. If at least one of the existing virtual banks has not reached the predefined limit, the flow continues at block 612. Otherwise, if there are no open spots for the player in an existing virtual bank, the flow continues at block 614.
  • At block 612, the wagering game server 350 adds the player to an existing virtual bank of related wagering game sessions. For example, the virtual bank management unit 356 relates the wagering game sessions associated with the player to the existing virtual bank of related wagering game sessions, as was describe above with reference to FIG. 1. In one embodiment, if there are multiple existing virtual banks that have not reached the predefined limit, the virtual bank management unit 356 can select the existing virtual bank that has the least number of players (i.e., related wagering game sessions). In another embodiment, if there are multiple existing virtual banks that have not reached the predefined limit, the virtual bank management unit 356 can give the player the option of which existing virtual bank to join.
  • At block 614, if all the existing virtual banks have reached the predefined limit of related wagering game sessions, the virtual bank management unit 356 can automatically initiate a new virtual bank with the default settings (i.e., not a customized version), and add the player to the new virtual bank. The virtual bank management unit 356 can also automatically add one or more additional players to the newly created virtual bank, as needed, until the predefined limit is reached.
  • After blocks 608, 612, and 614, the flow continues at block 406 of FIG. 4, where the virtual bank management unit 356 causes the gaming machines to present the graphical representation of the virtual bank to the players. It is noted, however, that in some embodiments the virtual bank management unit 356 may not limit the number of related wagering game sessions in each virtual bank. In this example, the virtual bank management unit 356 may just evenly distribute the players across the existing virtual banks. In one example, as the virtual bank management unit 356 adds extra players to an existing virtual bank, the gaming machine 360 may automatically scale the size of the sections within the graphical representation of the virtual bank 200 (e.g., shown in FIG. 2) to display all the graphical elements 205 associated with all the players, and/or may automatically scale the size of the graphical elements 205.
  • In some embodiments, while the players are playing their corresponding base wagering games, the virtual bank management unit 356 can offer players other ways to increase the value of their multiplier. For example, the virtual bank management unit 356 can initiate a “hot potato” style, multiplier power-up game, where a cash register icon (or other type of icon) randomly bounces from one graphical element 205 associated with one player to another. In this example, the player's graphical element 205 that has the cash register icon when the community group bonus game is triggered wins a multiplier power-up bonus. For example, the value of the multiplier can be doubled. In another example, the virtual bank management unit 356 can introduce a bingo style multiplier power-up game, where each player is provided one or more bingo balls with a number in each ball. When the community group bonus game is triggered, an animation of a bingo ball being randomly selected is presented to the players. The player that has the bingo ball with the number that was randomly selected wins a multiplier power-up bonus.
  • In some embodiments, besides making selections that drive the community group bonus game, the lucky player may be provided additional benefits. For example, the value of lucky player's multiplier may be automatically increased (e.g., by +2×), or the lucky player's total award after the community group bonus game may be increased by a certain percentage (e.g., 10%). In some embodiments, the player that is selected as the lucky player only has privileges during the community group bonus game. After the community group bonus game is played out, the virtual bank management unit 356 removes the lucky player status from the player and the players of the virtual bank continue playing the base wagering game. In this example, next time the community group bonus game is triggered, the virtual bank management unit 356 will again go through one of the processes described above for selecting the lucky player for the new instance of the community group bonus game. In other embodiments, the player retains the lucky player status until the next instance of the community group bonus game is triggered and a new lucky player is selected. In one example, the player that retains the lucky player status after the community group bonus game may receive benefits during the base wagering game. For example, the lucky player may receive free spins, additional pay lines, and/or an improved pay table during the base wagering game and until the next instance of the community bonus game is triggered.
  • In some embodiments, the wagering game server 350 may allow players to join two or more virtual banks of related wagering game sessions. For example, player P may join three different virtual banks: virtual bank A, a virtual bank B, and a virtual bank C. The wagering game server 350 may encourage players to participate in multiple virtual banks concurrently by providing players extra incentives. In one embodiment, if a player is participating in multiple virtual banks, and the community group bonus is triggered in one of the player's virtual banks, all of the player's wagering game sessions associated with the player's other virtual banks are temporarily associated with the community group bonus game that has been triggered. The wagering game server 350 then provides multiple awards to the player based on the bonus game results, i.e., the wagering game server 350 provides an award to the player for each wagering game session that is associated with the community group bonus game based on the bonus game results. For instance, in the example described above, if the community group bonus game is triggered for the virtual bank A, the wagering game server 350 determines whether the player is participating in any other virtual banks. In this example, since the player is also participating in virtual banks B and C, the player's wagering game session associated with virtual bank B is disassociated with virtual bank B and then associated with the instance of the community group bonus game that was triggered in virtual bank A. Also, the player's wagering game session associated with virtual bank C is disassociated with virtual bank C and then is associated with the same instance of the community group bonus game that was triggered in virtual bank A. After the game results for the community group bonus game that was triggered are determined, the wagering game server 350 determines a first award for the player's wagering game session associated with virtual bank A, a second award for the player's wagering game session associated with virtual bank B, and a third award for the player's wagering game session associated with virtual bank C, based on the game results of the single instance of the community group bonus game that was triggered for virtual bank A. In one example, the first award for the player's wagering game session associated with virtual bank A can be determined based on the bonus game results and based on the bonus multiplier the player had earned for virtual bank A. The second award for the player's wagering game session associated with virtual bank B can be determined based on the bonus game results and based on the bonus multiplier the player had currently earned for virtual bank B. The third award for the player's wagering game session associated with virtual bank C can be determined based on the bonus game results and based on the bonus multiplier the player had currently earned for virtual bank C. In another example, the first award is the same as described above, but the second and third awards for the player's wagering game session associated with virtual banks B and C, respectively, may only be based on the bonus game results (i.e., the multiplier will be the default multiplier 1×).
  • Additional Example Operating Environments
  • This section describes example operating environments, systems and networks, and presents structural aspects of some embodiments.
  • Wagering Game Machine Architecture
  • FIG. 7 is a conceptual diagram that illustrates an example of a wagering game machine architecture 700, according to some embodiments. In FIG. 7, the wagering game machine architecture 700 includes a wagering game machine 706, which includes a central processing unit (CPU) 726 connected to main memory 728. The CPU 726 can include any suitable processor, such as an Intel® Pentium processor, Intel® Core 2 Duo processor, AMD Opteron™ processor, or UltraSPARC processor. The main memory 728 includes a wagering game unit 732. In some embodiments, the wagering game unit 732 can present wagering games, such as video poker, video black jack, video slots, video lottery, reel slots, etc., in whole or part. The wagering game unit 732 may also facilitate the implementation of virtual banks of related wagering game sessions associated with a community group bonus game in a wagering game system, e.g., as described above with reference to FIGS. 1-6.
  • The CPU 726 is also connected to an input/output (“I/O”) bus 722, which can include any suitable bus technologies, such as an AGTL+ frontside bus and a PCI backside bus. The I/O bus 722 is connected to a payout mechanism 708, primary display 710, secondary display 712, value input device 714, player input device 716, information reader 718, and storage unit 730. The player input device 716 can include the value input device 714 to the extent the player input device 716 is used to place wagers. The I/O bus 722 is also connected to an external system interface 724, which is connected to external systems 704 (e.g., wagering game networks). The external system interface 724 can include logic for exchanging information over wired and wireless networks (e.g., 802.11g transceiver, Bluetooth transceiver, Ethernet transceiver, etc.)
  • The I/O bus 722 is also connected to a location unit 738. The location unit 738 can create player information that indicates the wagering game machine's location/movements in a casino. In some embodiments, the location unit 738 includes a global positioning system (GPS) receiver that can determine the wagering game machine's location using GPS satellites. In other embodiments, the location unit 738 can include a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag that can determine the wagering game machine's location using RFID readers positioned throughout a casino. Some embodiments can use GPS receiver and RFID tags in combination, while other embodiments can use other suitable methods for determining the wagering game machine's location. Although not shown in FIG. 7, in some embodiments, the location unit 738 is not connected to the I/O bus 722.
  • In some embodiments, the wagering game machine 706 can include additional peripheral devices and/or more than one of each component shown in FIG. 7. For example, in some embodiments, the wagering game machine 706 can include multiple external system interfaces 724 and/or multiple CPUs 726. In some embodiments, any of the components can be integrated or subdivided.
  • In some embodiments, the wagering game machine 706 includes an online gaming module 737. The online gaming module 737 can process communications, commands, or other information, where the processing can control and present online wagering games. In some embodiments, the online gaming module 737 can work in concert with the wagering game unit 732, and can perform any of the operations described above.
  • Furthermore, any component of the wagering game machine 706 can include hardware, firmware, and/or machine-readable storage media including instructions for performing the operations described herein.
  • Example Wagering Game Machines
  • FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a wagering game machine, according to example embodiments. Referring to FIG. 8, a wagering game machine 800 is used in gaming establishments, such as casinos. In some embodiments, the wagering game machine 800 can implement some of the functionality described above for facilitating the implementation of virtual banks of related wagering game sessions associated with a community group bonus game in a wagering game system, e.g., as described above with reference to FIGS. 1-7.
  • According to embodiments, the wagering game machine 800 can be any type of wagering game machine and can have varying structures and methods of operation. For example, the wagering game machine 800 can be an electromechanical wagering game machine configured to play mechanical slots, or it can be an electronic wagering game machine configured to play video casino games, such as blackjack, slots, keno, poker, blackjack, roulette, etc.
  • The wagering game machine 800 comprises a housing 812 and includes input devices, including value input devices 818 and a player input device 824. For output, the wagering game machine 800 includes a primary display 814 for displaying information about a basic wagering game. In some implementations, the primary display 814 can also display information about a bonus wagering game and a progressive wagering game. The wagering game machine 800 also includes a secondary display 816 for displaying bonus wagering games, wagering game events, wagering game outcomes, and/or signage information. While some components of the wagering game machine 800 are described herein, numerous other elements can exist and can be used in any number or combination to create varying forms of the wagering game machine 800.
  • The value input devices 818 can take any suitable form and can be located on the front of the housing 812. The value input devices 818 can receive currency and/or credits inserted by a player. The value input devices 818 can include coin acceptors for receiving coin currency and bill acceptors for receiving paper currency. Furthermore, the value input devices 818 can include ticket readers or barcode scanners for reading information stored on vouchers, cards, or other tangible portable storage devices. The vouchers or cards can authorize access to central accounts, which can transfer money to the wagering game machine 800.
  • The player input device 824 comprises a plurality of push buttons on a button panel 826 for operating the wagering game machine 800. In addition, or alternatively, the player input device 824 can comprise a touch screen 828 mounted over the primary display 814 and/or secondary display 816.
  • The various components of the wagering game machine 800 can be connected directly to, or contained within, the housing 812. Alternatively, some of the wagering game machine's components can be located outside of the housing 812, while being communicatively coupled with the wagering game machine 800 using any suitable wired or wireless communication technology.
  • The operation of the basic wagering game can be displayed to the player on the primary display 814. The primary display 814 can also display a bonus game associated with the basic wagering game. The primary display 814 can include a cathode ray tube (CRT), a high resolution liquid crystal display (LCD), a plasma display, light emitting diodes (LEDs), or any other type of display suitable for use in the wagering game machine 800. Alternatively, the primary display 814 can include a number of mechanical reels to display the outcome. In FIG. 8, the wagering game machine 800 is an “upright” version in which the primary display 814 is oriented vertically relative to the player. Alternatively, the wagering game machine can be a “slant-top” version in which the primary display 814 is slanted at about a thirty-degree angle toward the player of the wagering game machine 800. In yet another embodiment, the wagering game machine 800 can exhibit any suitable form factor, such as a free standing model, bartop model, mobile handheld model, or workstation console model.
  • A player begins playing a basic wagering game by making a wager via the value input device 818. The player can initiate play by using the player input device's buttons or touch screen 828. The basic game can include arranging a plurality of symbols along a payline 832, which indicates one or more outcomes of the basic game. Such outcomes can be randomly selected in response to player input. At least one of the outcomes, which can include any variation or combination of symbols, can trigger a bonus game.
  • In some embodiments, the wagering game machine 800 can also include an information reader 852, which can include a card reader, ticket reader, bar code scanner, RFID transceiver, or computer readable storage medium interface. In some embodiments, the information reader 852 can be used to award complimentary services, restore game assets, track player habits, etc.
  • General
  • This detailed description refers to specific examples in the drawings and illustrations. These examples are described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice the inventive subject matter. These examples also serve to illustrate how the inventive subject matter can be applied to various purposes or embodiments. Other embodiments are included within the inventive subject matter, as logical, mechanical, electrical, and other changes can be made to the example embodiments described herein. Features of various embodiments described herein, however essential to the example embodiments in which they are incorporated, do not limit the inventive subject matter as a whole, and any reference to the invention, its elements, operation, and application are not limiting as a whole, but serve only to define these example embodiments. This detailed description does not, therefore, limit embodiments of the invention, which are defined only by the appended claims. Each of the embodiments described herein are contemplated as falling within the inventive subject matter, which is set forth in the following claims.

Claims (25)

1. A computer-implemented method comprising:
initiating, at a wagering game server of a wagering game system, a wagering game session for a player at a gaming machine of the wagering game system;
relating the wagering game session associated with the player to a virtual bank of related wagering games sessions associated with one or more additional players, wherein the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions is associated with a community group bonus game;
determining when the community group bonus game is triggered for the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions associated with the player and the one or more additional players;
determining game results of the community group bonus game; and
determining an award for the player and for each of the one or more additional players associated with the virtual bank based, at least in part, on the game results of the community group bonus game.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein said determining an award for the player and for each of the one or more additional players associated with the virtual bank based, at least in part, on the game results of the community group bonus game comprises:
determining a gaming activity associated with a base wagering game for the player and for each of the one or more additional players associated with the virtual bank;
determining a bonus multiplier to award to the player and to each of the one or more additional players based on each player's gaming activity; and
determining an award for the player based on the game results of the community group bonus game and the bonus multiplier associated with the player, and determining an award for each of the one or more additional players based on the game results of the community group bonus game and the bonus multiplier associated with each of the one or more additional players.
3. The method of claim 1, further comprising, in response to determining that the community group bonus game is triggered:
selecting one of the plurality of players associated with the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions to be an active participant in the community group bonus game, wherein the active participant makes selections for the virtual bank that drive the community group bonus game;
determining bonus features associated with the community group bonus game based on one or more selections made by the player selected as the active participant; and
determining the game results associated with the community group bonus game based, at least in part, on the bonus game features.
4. The method of claim 3, wherein, when the community group bonus game is a slot-based bonus game, the bonus features associated with the community group bonus game comprises a number of free spins of reels associated with the community group bonus game and at least one type of wild reel bonus feature.
5. The method of claim 1, wherein said relating the wagering game session associated with the player to a virtual bank of related wagering games sessions associated with the community group bonus game comprises associating the player's wagering game session to a same instance of the community group bonus game associated with the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions.
6. The method of claim 5, wherein said relating the wagering game session associated with the player to a virtual bank of related wagering games sessions associated with the community group bonus game further comprises causing a plurality of gaming machines associated with the plurality of players of the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions to present a graphical representation of the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions including a plurality of graphical elements representing the plurality of players associated with the virtual bank.
7. The method of claim 6, wherein each of the plurality of graphical elements representing the plurality of players associated with the virtual bank comprises an indication of each player's username associated with the wagering game system and an indication of each player's bonus multiplier awarded to each player based on each player's gaming activity in a base wagering game associated with each player's wagering game session, and the method further comprises dynamically updating the indication of each player's bonus multiplier when a value associated with each player's bonus multiplier is increased based on each player's gaming activity.
8. The method of claim 1, wherein said relating the wagering game session associated with the player to a virtual bank of related wagering games sessions comprises:
determining that the player wants to participate in a virtual bank of related wagering game sessions associated with the community group bonus game;
determining whether the player wants to customize a new virtual bank or join an existing virtual bank;
if it is determined that the player wants to customize a new virtual bank:
causing the gaming machine associated with the player to present a customization tool to select customization options for customizing a new virtual bank;
determining how to customize the new virtual bank based on the customization options selected by the player;
relating the wagering game session associated with the player to the new virtual bank customized according to the customization options selected by the player;
causing the gaming machine associated with the player to present a graphical representation of the new virtual bank customized according to the customization options selected by the player;
if it is determined that the player wants to join an existing virtual bank:
determining whether at least one of a plurality of existing virtual banks of related wagering game sessions has not reached a predefined limit of a maximum number of players that can join the existing virtual bank;
if at least one of the plurality of existing virtual banks of related wagering game sessions has not reached the predefined limit, relating the player's wagering game session to the existing virtual bank of related wagering game sessions; and
if all the plurality of existing virtual banks of related wagering game sessions have reached the predefined limit, initiating a new virtual bank with a default configuration and relating the player's wagering game session to the new virtual bank with the default configuration.
9. The method of claim 1, further comprising:
determining whether the player has joined a second virtual bank of related wagering game sessions in response to determining that the community group bonus game associated with a first virtual bank of related wagering game sessions is triggered for the first virtual bank;
if the player has joined a second virtual bank:
associating the player's wagering game session associated with the second virtual bank to a same instance of the community group bonus game associated with the first virtual bank that has been triggered for the first virtual bank;
determining an award for the player's wagering game session associated with the first virtual bank and for the player's wagering game session associated with second virtual bank based, at least in part, on the game results of the same instance of the community group bonus game that has been triggered for the first virtual bank.
10. The method of claim 1, wherein the player and the one or more additional players participate in the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions via one or more physical casinos associated with the wagering game system and/or via one or more online casinos associated with the wagering game system.
11. A wagering game server comprising:
a game management unit configured to initiate a wagering game session for a player at a gaming machine of a wagering game system; and
a virtual bank management unit configured to determine that the player wants to participate in a virtual bank of related wagering game sessions associated with a community group bonus game, and the virtual bank management unit is further configured to:
relate the wagering game session associated with the player to the virtual bank of related wagering games sessions associated with one or more additional players, wherein the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions is associated with the community group bonus game;
determine a bonus multiplier to award to the player and to the one or more additional players based on each player's gaming activity associated with a base wagering game;
determine when the community group bonus game is triggered for the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions associated with the player and the one or more additional players;
determine game results of the community group bonus game; and
determine an award for the player based on the game results of the community group bonus game and the bonus multiplier associated with the player, and an award for each of the one or more additional players based on the game results of the community group bonus game and the bonus multiplier associated with each of the one or more additional players.
12. The wagering game server of claim 11, wherein, in response to determining that the community group bonus game is triggered for the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions, the virtual bank management unit is further configured to:
select one of the plurality of players associated with the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions to be an active participant in the community group bonus game, wherein the active participant makes selections for the virtual bank that drive the community group bonus game;
determine bonus features associated with the community group bonus game based on one or more selections made by the player selected as the active participant; and
determine the game results associated with the community group bonus game based, at least in part, on the bonus game features.
13. The wagering game server of claim 11, wherein the virtual bank management unit configured to relate the wagering game session associated with the player to a virtual bank of related wagering games sessions associated with one or more additional players and the community group bonus game comprises the virtual bank management unit configured to relate the player's wagering game session to a same instance of the community group bonus game associated with the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions, such that when the instance of the community group bonus game is triggered the player and the one or more additional players are provided an award based, at least in part, on the results of the instance of the community group bonus game.
14. A computer-implemented method comprising:
relating, at a wagering game server of a wagering game system, a plurality of wagering game sessions associated with a plurality of players to a community group bonus game to initiate a virtual bank of related wagering games sessions associated with the plurality of players and the community group bonus game;
determining a bonus multiplier to award to each of the plurality of players based on each player's gaming activity in a base wagering game associated with each player's wagering game session;
causing each of a plurality of gaming machines associated with the plurality of players to present, within a graphical representation of the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions, a plurality of graphical elements representing the plurality of players and an indication of each player's bonus multiplier that has been awarded based on each player's gaming activity in the base wagering game associated with each player's wagering game session;
determining when the community group bonus game is triggered for the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions;
selecting a player, from the plurality of players, to be an active participant in the community group bonus game;
determining bonus features associated with the community group bonus game based on one or more bonus game initialization selections made by the player selected as the active participant;
determining game results associated with the community group bonus game based, at least in part, on the bonus game features; and
determining an award earned by each of the plurality of players associated with the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions based on the game results of the community group bonus game and the game multiplier associated with each of the plurality of players.
15. The method of claim 14, wherein said relating the plurality of wagering game sessions associated with the plurality of players to the community group bonus game to initiate the virtual bank of related wagering games sessions associated with the plurality of players and the community group bonus game comprises associating the plurality of wagering game sessions associated with the plurality of players to a same instance of the community group bonus game, such that when the instance of the community group bonus game is triggered each of the plurality of players are provided an award based, at least in part, on the results of the instance of the community group bonus game.
16. The method of claim 14, wherein said relating the plurality of wagering game sessions associated with the plurality of players to the community group bonus game to initiate the virtual bank of related wagering games sessions associated with the plurality of players and the community group bonus game comprises:
determining that each of the plurality of players wants to participate in a virtual bank of related wagering game sessions associated with the community group bonus game; and
for each of the plurality of players, determining whether the player wants to customize a new virtual bank or join an existing virtual bank of related wagering game sessions.
17. The method of claim 16, further comprising, if it is determined that the player wants to customize a new virtual bank:
causing a gaming machine associated with the player to present a customization tool to select customization options for customizing the new virtual bank;
determining how to customize the new virtual bank based on the customization options selected by the player;
relating the wagering game session associated with the player to the new virtual bank customized according to the customization options selected by the player; and
causing the gaming machine associated with the player to present a graphical representation of the new virtual bank customized according to the customization options selected by the player.
18. The method of claim 17, wherein said determining how to customize the new virtual bank based on the customization options selected by the player comprises:
determining one or more customization options associated with the graphical representation of the new virtual bank that the player selected via the customization tool;
determining whether the player indicated that the new virtual bank should be private or public; and
determining whether the player indicated to invite one or more friends from a virtual gaming community associated with the wagering game system to join the new virtual bank, and sending invitations to the one or more friends from the virtual gaming community if the player indicated to invite the one or more friends.
19. The method of claim 16, further comprising, if it is determined that the player wants to join an existing virtual bank of related wagering game sessions:
determining whether at least one of a plurality of existing virtual banks of related wagering game sessions has not reached a predefined limit of a maximum number of players that can join the existing virtual bank;
if at least one of the plurality of existing virtual banks of related wagering game sessions has not reached the predefined limit, relating the player's wagering game session to the existing virtual bank of related wagering game sessions; and
if all the plurality of existing virtual banks of related wagering game sessions have reached the predefined limit, initiating a new virtual bank with a default configuration and relating the player's wagering game session to the new virtual bank with the default configuration.
20. A wagering game server of a wagering game system, the wagering game server comprising:
means for relating a plurality of wagering game sessions associated with a plurality of players to a community group bonus game to initiate a virtual bank of related wagering games sessions associated with the plurality of players and the community group bonus game;
means for determining a bonus multiplier to award to each of the plurality of players based on each player's gaming activity in a base wagering game associated with each player's wagering game session;
means for determining when the community group bonus game is triggered for the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions;
means for selecting a player, from the plurality of players, to be an active participant in the community group bonus game;
means for determining bonus features associated with the community group bonus game based on one or more bonus game initialization selections made by the player selected as the active participant;
means for determining game results associated with the community group bonus game based, at least in part, on the bonus game features; and
means for determining an award earned by each of the plurality of players associated with the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions based on the game results of the community group bonus game and the game multiplier associated with each of the plurality of players.
21. The wagering game server of claim 20, wherein said means for relating the plurality of wagering game sessions associated with the plurality of players to the community group bonus game to initiate the virtual bank of related wagering games sessions associated with the plurality of players and the community group bonus game comprises means for associating the plurality of wagering game sessions associated with the plurality of players to a same instance of the community group bonus game, such that when the instance of the community group bonus game is triggered each of the plurality of players are provided an award based, at least in part, on the results of the instance of the community group bonus game.
22. The wagering game server of claim 20, wherein said means for relating the plurality of wagering game sessions associated with the plurality of players to the community group bonus game to initiate the virtual bank of related wagering games sessions associated with the plurality of players and the community group bonus game comprises means for causing a plurality of gaming machines associated with the plurality of players of the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions to present a graphical representation of the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions including a plurality of graphical elements representing the plurality of players associated with the virtual bank.
23. One or more machine-readable storage media, having instructions stored therein, which, when executed by one or more processors causes the one or more processors to perform operations that comprise:
initiating a wagering game session for a player of the wagering game system;
relating the wagering game session associated with the player to a virtual bank of related wagering games sessions associated with one or more additional players, wherein the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions is associated with a community group bonus game;
determining when the community group bonus game is triggered for the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions associated with the player and the one or more additional players;
determining game results of the community group bonus game; and
determining an award for the player and for each of the one or more additional players associated with the virtual bank based, at least in part, on the game results of the community group bonus game.
24. The machine-readable storage media of claim 23, wherein said operation of determining an award for the player and for each of the one or more additional players associated with the virtual bank based, at least in part, on the game results of the community group bonus game comprises:
determining a gaming activity associated with a base wagering game for the player and for each of the one or more additional players associated with the virtual bank;
determining a bonus multiplier to award to the player and to each of the one or more additional players based on each player's gaming activity; and
determining an award for the player based on the game results of the community group bonus game and the bonus multiplier associated with the player, and determining an award for each of the one or more additional players based on the game results of the community group bonus game and the bonus multiplier associated with each of the one or more additional players.
25. The machine-readable storage media of claim 23, wherein the operations further comprise:
selecting one of the plurality of players associated with the virtual bank of related wagering game sessions to be an active participant in the community group bonus game;
determining bonus features associated with the community group bonus game based on one or more bonus game initialization selections made by the player selected as the active participant; and
determining the game results associated with the community group bonus game based, at least in part, on the bonus game features.
US13/191,675 2010-07-27 2011-07-27 Virtual banks for community group bonus games Abandoned US20120028703A1 (en)

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