US20130005465A1 - Audio playlist selections and related entertainment systems and methods - Google Patents

Audio playlist selections and related entertainment systems and methods Download PDF

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Publication number
US20130005465A1
US20130005465A1 US13/305,698 US201113305698A US2013005465A1 US 20130005465 A1 US20130005465 A1 US 20130005465A1 US 201113305698 A US201113305698 A US 201113305698A US 2013005465 A1 US2013005465 A1 US 2013005465A1
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songs
method
selected
song
players
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US13/305,698
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Daniel Patrick Murphy
Rodney E. Underhill
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EarDish Corp
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EarDish Corp
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Priority to US13/305,698 priority patent/US20130005465A1/en
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Publication of US20130005465A1 publication Critical patent/US20130005465A1/en
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F13/00Video games, i.e. games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions
    • A63F13/80Special adaptations for executing a specific game genre or game mode
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F13/00Video games, i.e. games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions
    • A63F13/30Interconnection arrangements between game servers and game devices; Interconnection arrangements between game devices; Interconnection arrangements between game servers
    • A63F13/33Interconnection arrangements between game servers and game devices; Interconnection arrangements between game devices; Interconnection arrangements between game servers using wide area network [WAN] connections
    • A63F13/335Interconnection arrangements between game servers and game devices; Interconnection arrangements between game devices; Interconnection arrangements between game servers using wide area network [WAN] connections using Internet
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F13/00Video games, i.e. games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions
    • A63F13/50Controlling the output signals based on the game progress
    • A63F13/54Controlling the output signals based on the game progress involving acoustic signals, e.g. for simulating revolutions per minute [RPM] dependent engine sounds in a driving game or reverberation against a virtual wall
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F13/00Video games, i.e. games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions
    • A63F13/70Game security or game management aspects
    • A63F13/79Game security or game management aspects involving player-related data, e.g. identities, accounts, preferences or play histories
    • A63F13/798Game security or game management aspects involving player-related data, e.g. identities, accounts, preferences or play histories for assessing skills or for ranking players, e.g. for generating a hall of fame
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F13/00Video games, i.e. games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions
    • A63F13/60Generating or modifying game content before or while executing the game program, e.g. authoring tools specially adapted for game development or game-integrated level editor
    • A63F13/61Generating or modifying game content before or while executing the game program, e.g. authoring tools specially adapted for game development or game-integrated level editor using advertising information
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F2300/00Features of games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions, e.g. on a television screen, showing representations related to the game
    • A63F2300/40Features of games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions, e.g. on a television screen, showing representations related to the game characterised by details of platform network
    • A63F2300/407Data transfer via internet
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F2300/00Features of games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions, e.g. on a television screen, showing representations related to the game
    • A63F2300/50Features of games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions, e.g. on a television screen, showing representations related to the game characterized by details of game servers
    • A63F2300/55Details of game data or player data management
    • A63F2300/5546Details of game data or player data management using player registration data, e.g. identification, account, preferences, game history
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F2300/00Features of games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions, e.g. on a television screen, showing representations related to the game
    • A63F2300/80Features of games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions, e.g. on a television screen, showing representations related to the game specially adapted for executing a specific type of game
    • A63F2300/8047Music games
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F2300/00Features of games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions, e.g. on a television screen, showing representations related to the game
    • A63F2300/80Features of games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions, e.g. on a television screen, showing representations related to the game specially adapted for executing a specific type of game
    • A63F2300/8064Quiz
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q30/00Commerce, e.g. shopping or e-commerce
    • G06Q30/02Marketing, e.g. market research and analysis, surveying, promotions, advertising, buyer profiling, customer management or rewards; Price estimation or determination

Abstract

A method of providing an entertainment game includes receiving information about a number of players that will be playing the game and receiving information about a music challenge in which the players will be competing. The music challenge is a subject, topic, or category for which there are a plurality of songs that are responsive to the music challenge. A database of songs can be provided from which each player can choose a selected song with each selected song being selected by a respective player in response to the music challenge. At least a portion of the selected songs can be played and the players can be polled to receive votes from the players for the song that best answers the challenge.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
  • This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/502,785, which was filed on Jun. 29, 2011, and is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
  • FIELD
  • This disclosure is directed to methods and systems for providing entertainment to users.
  • BACKGROUND
  • Various sources are available on the Internet for streaming music. Many of these sources, such as YouTube™, provide streaming music free of charge to users. However, conventional technology does not allow for collection of these various sources for continued playback, such as via a playlist. Nor does conventional technology allow users to create playlists of music available from these sources, or initiate game challenges based, at least in part, on the creation of playlists of music available from these sources for entertainment purposes.
  • SUMMARY
  • In one embodiment, a method of providing an entertainment game involving the selection of music for playback is provided. The method includes receiving information about a number of players that will be playing the game and receiving information about a music challenge in which the players will be competing. The music challenge can comprise a subject, topic, or category for which there are a plurality of songs that are responsive to the music challenge. A database of songs can be provided from which each player can choose a selected song, with each selected song being selected by a respective player in response to the music challenge. At least a portion of the selected songs can be played and the players can be polled to receive votes from the players. Each player can vote for one of the selected songs.
  • In some embodiments, the database of songs comprises a plurality of songs that are available to be streamed via a secondary website, such as YouTube™. Each player can choose their respective selected song either from the database of songs or from another source. The music challenge can be selected from a list of previously-identified challenges. In some embodiments, each player is not permitted to vote for their own respective selected song.
  • In other embodiments, a predetermined amount of time is provided for each player to vote during the polling step. A source of the selected songs comprises both audio and video components and the playing of the at least a portion of the selected songs can comprise playing an audio-only version of the selected songs. Each player can be provided with the option to view the video component of the selected songs, if he or she so desires. The selected song that receives the most votes can be subsequently played in its entirety.
  • In some embodiments, songs in the database can be associated with at least one URL from which the song can be streamed. At least some of the songs in the database are associated with a plurality of URLs from which the song can be streamed. When playing the at least a portion of the selected songs, if a URL associated with the selected song is found to be inactive, another URL associated with the selected song can be utilized. In some embodiments, when playing the at least a portion of the selected songs, if all URLs associated with the selected song are found to be inactive, that selected song is skipped and not included in the voting. The players can be permitted to add all of the selected songs into a playlist that can be saved. The players can be in different geographic locations from one another while playing the game and the players can be provided with targeted advertising messages based on their geographic locations. The players can also be provided with incentives to play additional games, with the incentives being of monetary value (such as coupons, discounts, or other real or virtual items of value).
  • In another embodiment, a method of promoting music is provided. The method includes receiving songs from a plurality of artists and publishing the songs on a website so the songs are available for viewing by users of the website. Ratings by the users can be received about the quality of the published songs and the artists that receive the highest ratings by the users can be identified. The artists of the songs that receive the highest rankings can be provided with prizes. The prizes can be further promotion on the website. The users can also be provided with incentives to rate the songs received from the artists, including instant prizes and prizes for rating a predetermined number of songs.
  • In another embodiment, a method of providing music to users is disclosed. The method comprises identifying URLs from which a plurality of songs can be streamed from a location on the Internet, associating the URLs with the plurality of songs, providing a searchable database that includes the streamable songs and their associated URLs, and providing a playlist generator that creates a playlist of a plurality of the streamable songs upon selection by a user.
  • In some embodiments, one or more non-transitory computer-readable media are provided for storing computer-executable instructions which when executed by a computer processor causes the computer processor to perform the methods described herein. In some embodiments, one or more non-transitory computer-readable media are provided for storing computer-executable instructions for causing a computer to perform a method, the method comprising any of the new and nonobvious methods or method acts described herein both alone or in combinations and subcombinations with one another. In other embodiments, one or more non-transitory computer-readable media are provided for storing any of the intermediate or final results generated at least in part by performing any of the new and nonobvious methods or method acts described herein both alone or in combinations and subcombinations with one another. Computing hardware can include a processor and memory, with the computing hardware being configured to perform any of the new and nonobvious methods or method acts described herein both alone or in combinations and subcombinations with one another. A display device can be provided for displaying one or more intermediate or final results generated at least in part by performing any of the new and nonobvious methods or method acts described herein both alone or in combinations and subcombinations with one another.
  • The foregoing and other objects, features, and advantages of the invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description, which proceeds with reference to the accompanying figures.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a schematic block diagram of an exemplary computing system on which certain embodiments of the systems and methods disclosed herein can be implemented.
  • FIG. 2 is a block diagram illustrating a computer network that can be used to perform at least some of the embodiments of the systems and methods disclosed herein.
  • FIG. 3 is a block diagram illustrating another computer network that can be used to perform at least some of the embodiments of the systems and methods disclosed herein.
  • FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating how the computer networks of FIG. 2 or 3 can be used to perform certain aspects of the systems and methods disclosed herein.
  • FIG. 5 illustrates an exemplary screenshot of a user registration process in which a new user can enter information such as that described above.
  • FIG. 6 illustrates an exemplary screenshot of a player initiating a new game.
  • FIG. 7 illustrates a song that has been selected by one of the players being displayed while playing on a user's playback device.
  • FIG. 8 illustrates an exemplary voting screen for a game.
  • FIG. 9 illustrates an exemplary screenshot of a manner in which songs can be located and selected for playlists
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • General Considerations
  • For purposes of this description, certain aspects, advantages, and novel features of the embodiments of this disclosure are described herein. The disclosed methods, apparatuses, and systems should not be construed as limiting in any way. Instead, the present disclosure is directed toward all novel and nonobvious features and aspects of the various disclosed embodiments, alone and in various combinations and sub-combinations with one another. The methods, apparatus, and systems are not limited to any specific aspect or feature or combination thereof, nor do the disclosed embodiments require that any one or more specific advantages be present or problems be solved.
  • Although the operations of some of the disclosed methods are described in a particular, sequential order for convenient presentation, it should be understood that this manner of description encompasses rearrangement, unless a particular ordering is required by specific language set forth below. For example, operations described sequentially may in some cases be rearranged or performed concurrently. Moreover, for the sake of simplicity, the attached figures may not show the various ways in which the disclosed methods can be used in conjunction with other methods. Additionally, the description sometimes uses terms like “determine” and “provide” to describe the disclosed methods. These terms are high-level abstractions of the actual operations that are performed. The actual operations that correspond to these terms may vary depending on the particular implementation and are readily discernible by one of ordinary skill in the art.
  • Implementation of the Systems and Methods Disclosed Herein
  • The entertainment methods and systems can be implemented or performed by software stored on one or more tangible computer-readable media (e.g., one or more optical media discs, volatile memory or storage components (such as DRAM or SRAM), or nonvolatile memory or storage components (such as hard drives)) and executed on one or more computing systems. The computing systems can include one or more central processing units (CPUs) and a memory, such as random access memory (RAM) for temporary storage of information and/or a read only memory (ROM) for permanent storage of information, and a mass storage device, such as a hard drive, diskette, or optical media storage device. Typically, the modules of the computing system are connected to the computer using a standards-based bus system, such as, for example, Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI), Microchannel, SCSI, Industrial Standard Architecture (ISA) and Extended ISA (EISA) architectures. The computing system may also include one or more commonly available input/output (I/O) devices and interfaces, such as a keyboard, a mouse, and/or a touchpad. In one embodiment, the I/O devices and interfaces include one or more display devices, such as a monitor, that allows the visual presentation of data to a user. More particularly, a display device can provide, for example, for the presentation of Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs), application software data, and multimedia presentations. The computing system may also provide a communications interface to various external devices.
  • Such software can be executed on a single computer or on a networked computer (e.g., via the Internet, a wide-area network, a local-area network, a client-server network, or other such network). The systems and methods disclosed herein can also be performed using cloud computing, a form of Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software and information are provided to computers and other devices on-demand. The software embodiments disclosed herein can be described in the general context of computer-executable instructions, such as those included in program modules, which can be executed in a computing environment on a target real or virtual processor.
  • Any of the software embodiments (comprising, for example, computer-executable instructions for causing a computer to perform any of the disclosed methods) can be transmitted, received, or accessed through a suitable communication means. Similarly, any data structure, data file, intermediate result, or final result created or modified using any of the disclosed methods can be transmitted, received, or accessed through a suitable communication means. Such suitable communication means include, for example, the Internet, the World Wide Web, an intranet, software applications, cable (including fiber optic cable), magnetic communications, electromagnetic communications (including RF, microwave, and infrared communications), electronic communications, or other such communication means now known or unknown. Moreover, any data structure, data file, intermediate result, or final result produced by any of the disclosed methods can be displayed to a user using a suitable display device (e.g., a computer monitor or display). Such displaying can be performed as part of a computer-implemented method of performing any of the disclosed methods.
  • FIG. 1 illustrates a generalized example of a suitable computing environment 100 in which several of the described embodiments can be implemented. The computing environment 100 is not intended to suggest any limitation as to scope of use or functionality, as the methods described herein can be implemented in diverse general-purpose or special-purpose computing environments.
  • With reference to FIG. 1, the computing environment 100 includes at least one processing unit 102 and memory 104. In FIG. 1, this most basic configuration 106 is included within a dashed line. The processing unit 102 executes computer-executable instructions and may be a real or a virtual processor. In a multi-processing system, multiple processing units execute computer-executable instructions to increase processing power. The memory 104 may be volatile memory (e.g., registers, cache, RAM), non-volatile memory (e.g., ROM, EEPROM, flash memory, etc.), or some combination of the two. The memory 104 stores software 116 implementing one or more of the systems described herein.
  • The computing environment may have additional features. For example, the computing environment 100 includes storage 108, one or more input devices 110, one or more output devices 112, and one or more communication connections 114. An interconnection mechanism (not shown) such as a bus, controller, or network interconnects the components of the computing environment 100. Typically, operating system software (not shown) provides an operating environment for other software executing in the computing environment 100, and coordinates activities of the components of the computing environment 100.
  • The storage 108 may be removable or non-removable, and includes magnetic disks, magnetic tapes or cassettes, CD-ROMs, DVDs, or any other medium which can be used to store information and which can be accessed within the computing environment 100. The storage 108 can store instructions for the software 116 implementing any of the described systems and methods.
  • The input device(s) 110 can be a touch input device such as a keyboard, mouse, pen, or trackball, a voice input device, a scanning device, or another device that provides input to the computing environment 100. For audio or video encoding, the input device(s) 110 can be a sound card, video card, TV tuner card, or similar device that accepts audio or video input in analog or digital form, or a CD-ROM or CD-RW that reads audio or video samples into the computing environment 100. The output device(s) 112 can be a display, printer, speaker, CD-writer, or another device that provides output from the computing environment 100.
  • The communication connection(s) 114 enable communication over a communication medium to another computing entity. The communication medium is not a storage medium but conveys information such as computer-executable instructions, resource and construction project information, or other data in a modulated data signal. A modulated data signal is a signal that has one or more of its characteristics set or changed in such a manner as to encode information in the signal. By way of example, and not limitation, communication media include wired or wireless techniques implemented with an electrical, optical, RF, infrared, acoustic, or other carrier.
  • The various methods disclosed herein can be described in the general context of computer-readable media. Computer-readable media are any available media that can be accessed within or by a computing environment. By way of example, and not limitation, with the computing environment 100, computer-readable media include tangible computer-readable storage media such as memory 104 and storage 108.
  • Any of the aspects of the technology described herein can also be performed using a distributed computer network. FIG. 2 shows a simplified embodiment of one such exemplary network. A server computer 120 can have an associated storage device 122 (internal or external to the server computer). For example, the server computer 120 can be configured to perform the calculations and analysis of information according to any of the disclosed embodiments. The server computer 120 can be coupled to a network, shown generally at 124, which can comprise, for example, a wide-area network, a local-area network, a client-server network, the Internet, or other such network. One or more client computers, such as those shown at 126, 128, may be coupled to the network 124 using a network protocol. The work may also be performed on a single, dedicated workstation, which has its own memory and one or more CPUs.
  • FIG. 3 shows another exemplary network. One or more computers 132 communicate via a network 1304 and form a computing environment 130 (e.g., a distributed computing environment). Each of the computers 132 in the computing environment 130 can be used to perform at least a portion of the calculation techniques according to any of the disclosed embodiments. The network 134 in the illustrated embodiment is also coupled to one or more client computers 136.
  • FIG. 4 shows one exemplary manner in which computer-executable instructions for performing any of the disclosed embodiments can be transmitted, accessed, or received using a remote server computer (such as the server computer 120 shown in FIG. 2) or a remote computing environment (such as the computing environment 130 shown in FIG. 3). At process block 140, for example, the client computer sends a request to download computer-executable instructions for performing any of the disclosed methods or techniques (e.g., after registering or logging in to the system). In process block 142, the request is received by the remote server or by respective components of the remote computing environment. In process block 144, the remote server or computing environment transmits computer-executable instructions for performing any of the disclosed methods or techniques. At 146, the computer-executable instructions are received (e.g., stored, buffered, and/or executed) by the client computer.
  • Entertainment Methods and Systems
  • In one embodiment, a game or entertainment system is provided whereby users (players) can select and play various songs. The songs can be stored locally by the system and/or the songs can be stored elsewhere, such as on the Internet. For example, in one embodiment, the songs that are played can comprise songs that are available for download or streaming on the Internet, such as those that are available via YouTube™.
  • A game can be played with any number of players. The players can be associated with one another in various manners. For example, the players can all be in the same room or the players can be in different locations and remotely associated with one another through an Internet connection or other means such as those described above.
  • A game, or portion of a game (e.g., a round) can be started by a player stating or choosing a challenge for which the players must select one or more songs. For example, the challenge could be “What is the best song to dance to that was recorded in the 1980's?” Upon statement of the challenge, the players can each select a song that they believe answers the challenge (and which is available for playback through the song selection/playback means available to the players). The songs selected by the players can be queued and played for the players. At the end of the round, each player can vote on what the “best” song selection was.
  • In some embodiments, players may not vote for their own song. In such embodiments, it can be desirable to have at least three players involved in the game since two players that cannot vote for their own songs would always result in a tie.
  • Playback of the queued songs can be achieved in various manners. For example, in one embodiment, each player's playback device (e.g., a laptop, smartphone, or other computing or music-playing device) can be synched so that the queued songs stream to the players through the internet in a generally synchronous manner. By generally synching the playback in this manner, players can be able to comment or communicate with one another about the selected songs during playback.
  • In some embodiments, the user can choose between an audio-only playback of a song (even if that song is being sourced from a location that comprises audio and video capabilities). For example, the playback device can be configured so that the audio portion only of a YouTube-based streaming song plays—and not the video—unless the player chooses (e.g., by hitting or clicking on a switch, toggle, or other such selection member, either virtual or real) to allow the video portion to appear. The video portion of the song that is being played can appear on the same screen that is currently shown on the playback device or it can appear on another screen, such as a pop-up screen on the same device or even a screen on another device connected to the playback device (e.g., a TV screen connected to or associated with the playback device). Desirably, when the user selects to see the video portion of the song on YouTube™ that video will appear in a box within the user interface of the game system itself rather than as part of a traditional browser. In this manner, a user can manage all of the game features provided with the user interface while viewing the video within the game's user interface.
  • A playlist only function can allow a user to stream multiple YouTube™ videos one after each other. A pre-set limit of the number of songs that can be added to a playlist can be provided; alternatively, no limits can be provided and the user can add as many songs to a playlist as desired.
  • The user can create playlists of popular songs that have been collected or otherwise identified within the game system (i.e., songs that are accessible by searching an interface provided by the game system itself). Alternatively, users can collect and add songs to their playlists from other sources.
  • With regard to songs that have been collected within the game system, these songs can be made available through the game system (e.g., some songs can be stored on servers maintained by the game system itself) or they can be linked into the game system from external sites (e.g., YouTube™). If the song is collected or identified by a user without using the game system's interface, the user can directly link to such songs so that those songs can be added to the playlist and made available for playback by the playback device during a game.
  • If a link to a YouTube™ song (or other song provided by an external source) is invalid for any reason (e.g., it was removed from YouTube™ by the owner) then the playlist can be configured to skip that song and go to the next song in the queue. Alternatively, the system can locate and identify another valid link to the song as available from YouTube™ or another source to allow that song to be played in its order in the playlist. In some embodiments, the identification and location of valid links can be performed by the system in advance of each songs playback, so that game users do not experience delays while waiting for songs to be played.
  • Thus, game users can enjoy thousands of YouTube™ based songs (or other similar freely available or otherwise accessible songs) without having to find each link one at a time. Users can simply search within the game interface for the song and the game system can queue that song and, at least in some embodiments, identify and locate valid links to that song. Additionally, if the user would like to identify songs that are not available through the system's interface, the user can separately link to those songs so that they can be accessed by the playlist feature.
  • Exemplary User Interfaces and Game Operation
  • As noted above, the game system can be searchable for music. For example, in one embodiment, many popular songs (e.g., the top 500, 5000, 10000, or more popular songs) can be located by the game system and pre-loaded into a searchable database. In some embodiments, the database can be contained within the structure of an executable file for the game. Each player screen can be provided with a search tool that allows the user to search for songs. The song can be searched by artist, song title, lyrics, genre, etc. Each of the pre-loaded songs can have one or more URLs stored so that the songs link “behind the scenes” to an active YouTube™ link or other such location. As described above, the system can be configured so that only the audio portion plays from the URL even if the link contains a video element.
  • The browser that plays the song can be configured to be “invisible” so that it does not appear on the user's screen but works on the background. The browser can operate “in the background” and can be configured to be operated by the game's programming to find the proper live audio/video links for each queued song. In some embodiments, only the audio will play and the user will not see the browser windows opening up.
  • If a pre-loaded URL (or other similar link to a storage location of a song) is no longer active or if a pre-loaded URL is not in the pre-set database of URLs for a particular song, a user can separately search for the song. For example, in one embodiment, another browser (either within the user interface of the game or separate from the user interface of the game) can be opened and the user can search the Internet for a suitable streaming resource such as a song published and available for streaming on YouTube™. That location can be linked to the song that the user adds to the queue. Also, if desired, the game system can be automatically updated so that the new location (e.g., the specific YouTube™ URL) is added to the database for future searches within the game interface by that user and other users.
  • In order to avoid erroneous additions of new songs to the game systems database, the system can comprise programmed logic that dictates that a certain number of URLs must be added for a song before that link is accepted as a valid song location that can be added to the database. For example, the system can be configured so that once five URLS for a particular search have been loaded they will be submitted for automatic inclusion into the game system's database of songs. Also, should URLS in the database be determined to be “bad” by the user community, they can be flagged for removal from the system and those URLs can be subject to a removal process. The removal process can be automated, such as by requiring a certain number of “flags” by different users before the link is removed. Alternatively, an internal review process can be performed prior to removal of these “flagged” links. Of course, additional songs and their associated links can be added by the game system as needed and/or desired. Also, the game system can be modified (e.g., by internal staff) to add additional URLS for any particular song into the URL database of streamable media.
  • Game Play Example
  • As described above, the game can be played by players in the same room or players may play with other players on the Internet by logging into the game system (e.g., through a game system website) to find other players to interact with. In some embodiments, each user can be asked to register with the game system. The registration process can comprise providing a user ID and a password. In addition, other information about the user can be obtained, including, for example, the user's name, age, location, and email address. Thus, in some embodiments, the user can be requested to provide information about their musical interest such as favorite artists, preferred genres, etc. FIG. 5 illustrates an exemplary screenshot of a user registration process in which a new user can enter information such as that described above.
  • To begin a new game, a user can select the format of the game, including the number of players and the particular game challenge. For example, as shown in FIG. 6, the user can select a number of players. This selection can be entered or it can be selected from a drop-down menu. In one embodiment, the user selects the number of players from a drop-down menu that allows up to eight players. As discussed above, more players can be allowed, and in some instances, more players can be desirable. However, since each player selects a song and even the shortest songs would likely be at least 2 minutes long, the shortest game with eight players would be about 16 minutes. If longer songs are selected, the game can be much longer. For this reason, it may be desirable to generally keep the number of players at eight or below.
  • Alternatively or additionally, in some embodiments, only a portion of the selected song will be played. Thus, for example, the game can be configured so that, for each song selection, only one minute of the song will be played. This controls the length of the game by limiting the length of each song that will be played. In other embodiments, the length of the song can be shorter or longer. In a longer duration limit game, for example, each song that is selected could be allowed to be played for four minutes. For some songs, this will be the entire song, while for other longer songs this would cause the song to be truncated as necessary.
  • In other embodiments, the length of the songs that are played can be automatically selected based on the number of players. Thus, for example, if there are eight players the song length can be limited to 1 minute, while for four players the song length can be limited to 2 minutes. In this manner, the duration of the game can be controlled.
  • Referring again to FIG. 6, each player's name can be entered and a number can be assigned to that player. The number will determine the order in which the user participates in the game. The number can be based on the order in which the players join the game or it can be randomly assigned. If desired, the user can remain anonymous and only their assigned number will be displayed.
  • A player can invite other players to join in the game. Invited players can be added by entering the player's user name in the game system, or by contacting them through email or social media networks, such as Facebook™. Players can also add other players as “friends” within the game system so that in the future, they will be easily contacted to play additional games. Players may invite or accept invitations of other registered user and expand the number of people who may play the game with a user by accepting or making “friend” invitations in a manner similar to that used by Facebook™.
  • The initiator of the game (or a winner from a previous game) can select the challenge or category of the game. In FIG. 6, for example, the player has selected the challenge of “Bands you like from the 80's.” Song categories can be selected using a pull down menu or by entering the challenge manually. Alternatively, if desired, the category can be randomly selected by the game system. Users may suggest game questions by submitting the same through the game interface. Approved questions can be added to a list of game questions available via the game's user interface (e.g., via drop down menus).
  • Once the category is selected, each player is given a time limit to choose their song. The time limit can be selected in a settings menu of the game. In one embodiment, the time limit can vary based on the number of players in the game. Thus, for example, 1-4 players may be given 2 minutes, while 4-8 players are given 1.5 minutes to select their song.
  • To select a song, the user can search the database for a desired song in the manner described herein. While searching for songs, the user can save any selection into a playlist for later listening by clicking “add to playlist,” as shown in FIG. 6. If the song that is being added to the playlist is part of a game, the song can be automatically added to a playlist with the same name as the challenge. If desired, however, the user can change the name of the playlist from the name of the challenge. In one embodiment, at the end of any game (solo or group) each player can be promoted to “PUT ALL GAME SONGS IN PLAYLIST.”
  • Preferably, video recordings will default to audio when added to a playlist. Any song or playlist created in the game system can be shared with others and when shared the friend can be presented with the option of adding the song link into their own player or playlists.
  • Thus, the playlist created during the game can be streamed on demand by a game player outside of playing the game. For example, after accumulating a list of 50 great songs during a challenge, the user can stream those songs via the “invisible browser” in sequence for later enjoyment. Any songs that no longer have active URLS are removed automatically. As described above, songs can also be added to playlists without playing the game by selecting songs from the game system's list of pre-selected songs or using a separate browser tool to find new songs to add to the playlist.
  • FIG. 6 illustrates a selection of a first user (Rodney) of the song “Enjoy the Silence” by Depeche Mode. Songs can be confidentially selected so that other users will not see your selection until the queue is completed and the songs begin playing. Once the user is ready to finalize their selection, the user can click on the “confirm selection” icon. Each song can be first identified to the other users when the song is played, but not sooner. After players select their respective songs, the songs can be played (in the assigned order or randomly) for up to the predetermined amount of time selected (e.g., 1 minute).
  • FIG. 7 illustrates a song that has been selected by one of the players being displayed while playing on a user's playback device. In some embodiments, such as the one shown in FIG. 7, the name of the player that selected the song is not shown so that voting will not be biased based on a player's feelings about another player. During game play, each song that is being played during the game will show up on other player's computers and devices as each device used by each player will be synced to each other through the Internet via the game system's server/software.
  • After the songs (or a portion of all the songs) are played, voting can begin. FIG. 8 illustrates an exemplary voting screen for a four-player game. Each of the selected and played songs is displayed and each player can select their favorite song or the song that they feel best represents the chosen category. In some embodiments, the players cannot select their own songs. A winner is declared based on the votes. The winning song can then be played in its entirety. For those continuing to play, the winner can then select the next category/challenge.
  • Additional Playlist Features
  • A playlist-only function can also be provided. In this manner, users can create playlists of popular songs using the game interface and the available links to streaming media, such as through YouTube™. The invisible browser can find each link on YouTube™ or elsewhere (using pre-loaded links) and play the songs. In this manner, thousands of songs on YouTube™ can be placed in playlists and played sequentially, without the user having to open a browser and separately search to find a new song after each song is finished playing. Conventional use of YouTube™ does not allow the creation of playlists in this manner; instead, people have to find songs one at a time and play them one at a time. The browser playlist functionality disclosed herein allows users to make playlists from links that are provided (and confirmed as active) within the game system. FIG. 9 illustrates an exemplary screenshot of a manner in which songs can be located and selected for playlists.
  • These playlists can be created to be audio only playlists where no video will play, whether or not there is video associated with the original YouTube™ link. However, default functionality of not allowing video to be seen in the player screen can be changed, if desired, by clicking the “show video” button and the video portion of the audio/video streaming will then open up in a new window. This playlist only function is an additional feature for the game package itself and is a second way of using the software.
  • Solo Play
  • Solo play can be provided by selecting a solo play category, as shown in FIG. 6. Solo play can comprise a “name that tune” format whereby a player chooses a category and then the game system randomly selects an appropriate song for playback. The user can stop the song as soon as he/she recognizes the song and can enter information about the song to see if they properly identified the song (e.g., artist, title, year, etc.). Points can be awarded to players based on the speed and accuracy in recognizing songs that are played in this manner, and player rankings can be provided based on the number of points achieved by players.
  • Thus, when engaging in solo play, the player is served up songs one at a time and has to identify the name of the band, the name of the song and the year of the song release for points. Points can be accumulated by players based on their solo play. In some embodiments, solo players can also play against other players live in real time and compete for highest points. Songs can be put into each player's playlist during the game.
  • Cost Per Engagement Module
  • In some embodiments, during the game users can receive messages that contain commercial content. In exchange for viewing the message, the system can provide the user with the option to receive something of value, such as a free song download or discount coupons (by email or download), or other potential benefits, such as entry into contests and promotions.
  • Users are preferably targeted by their demographics in order for them to receive the commercial message during game play. Basic demographics can include gender, age, and location. Users can also be prompted to provide or allow additional demographics in order to receive additional commercial messages and/or commercial messages tied to “better” premiums, such as a new song from a very famous artist such as Lady Gaga. Some premiums will be “limited edition” or “exclusive” in nature so as the game players open up various levels of the game they will gain access to “better” premiums such as more popular songs or premiums in higher demand by the public.
  • Additional demographics and information that can be used to target users can be based on other information that a user allows the system to collect, such as the GPS location of game players, the number of game players in any particular game, number of “friends” attributed to each player, frequency of playing the game, most recent date of game play, and locations of “friends” who play game with an individual player.
  • Invitations can be sent to game users while they are using the game. These invitations can invite users to participate in activities that provide value to the user based on their activities (e.g., cost per engagement). Cost per engagement models refer to advertising impressions that are free and advertisers only pay when a user engages with their ad unit. For example, those users who are in desired demographics could receive a “live” invitation to a cost per engagement event, if they are registered users of the game. In other words, while playing the game, they would be interrupted for a hot cost per engagement event if they are in the right demographic. They could opt out to not accept or get the cost per engagement invitation if they wanted.
  • Cost Per Engagement
  • Advertisements can be provided to users as text, images, audio, video, or some combination thereof. In some embodiments, the advertisement can be of a predetermined duration, such as a 30 second commercial as might be seen on conventional television.
  • In some embodiments, there can be a reward offered after the advertisement is viewed. Thus, for example, after viewing the commercial content, the user could receive a free MP3 download from a major artist, or a two for one voucher for merchandise (e.g., two MP3 downloads for the price of one). The reward can comprise a discount, a discount coupon, an entry into a sweepstakes or contest, or any suitable prize of some value (real, virtual, or emotional) to a user.
  • In one embodiment, during the play of the game, the system can identify certain demographics of the players and the commercial content (and associated rewards) can be modified based on this information. As described herein, such demographic information (e.g., age, gender, zip code and other demographic related data) can be acquired at the time of registration of the users. Thus, for example, if some or all players are all determined to be 18 between 20 years of age, advertisements (and any associated rewards) can be directed toward that demographic. Advertisements and/or links for purchase of the songs that are involved during their games can also be provided.
  • Advertisements can also be determined based on the music that is played and/or searched. For example, if a user searches for “Lady Gaga” in the search field, a prize, advertisement, or other feature can be obtained by the user. This prize can be, for example, a free download of a Lady Gaga song. Alternatively, a free download (or other advertisement or prize) can be offered for songs of another artist that has been deemed to be “a musician that people who like Lady Gaga should like.”
  • If a reward/prize is provided, the system can state, for example, “Congratulations! You have won a free Lady Gaga MP3 Download. Click here to receive a free download of the song ‘Set Me Free.’” The user can then clicks the proper button and a new screen can open up that has related text and a commercial can play. Text says that “download has commenced.”
  • In some embodiments, the speed of the download can be matched to the length of the commercial. Therefore, the duration of the download can be substantially the same as the length of the commercial, which can increase the percentage of users that actually view the download. Also, the commercial screen can be configured so that it cannot be closed or minimized during the download without causing the download to cancel, a feature which can be described in text so that the user does not mistakenly close the commercial screen during the download period.
  • In other embodiments, CPE events can promote contest entries, vouchers and the like, instead of or in addition to, providing prizes and other rewards such as the download of free MP3 files.
  • Independent Music Features
  • Solo Game players or players in a group can also listen to songs from unsigned musicians and rate the songs. The rating system can vary. In one embodiment, for example, songs can be simply rated good or bad. In other embodiments, ratings can be more complex. For example, ratings can reflect performance, song writing, and sound recording quality. These ratings can be on a variety of scales that distinguish the quality of each category, such as Poor, Average, Great, and Super. Other rating systems can be used, including those based on ranking by adjectives (such as Poor, Average, Great, and Super) or sequential-type ratings (e.g., 1-4, 1-10, A-F), or a combination of adjectives and sequential ratings.
  • Ratings can be accumulated and recorded by the game system at, for example, a central server. In this manner, the public can function to rate unsigned music and identify those songs or artists that are most popular with the public. This also allows for later use of information about the artists who are identified as being the most popular and/or talented. For example, artists whose songs that have the best rating can be given the chance to engage in other events for additional promotions which can provide the artists with further beneficial exposure. Thus, the rating system and use thereof can provide unsigned artists with the ability to help promote their music.
  • In addition, artists who have the most ratings, the highest ratings, etc., can be eligible for other prizes, incentives, and/or awards based on these ratings. For example, weekly prizes can be provided for the highest ranked new artist in each genre, thereby providing artists with an incentive to participate in the system. Winners of these prizes can be featured prominently on the website to further promote their music.
  • Other prizes and incentives can also be provided to the users that rate music. For example, prizes and incentives can be provided for players that rate the most music. Additionally, players in the process of rating music can get be entered into drawings for prizes (instant or otherwise). If the prize is an instant prize, a player may receive an instant notification of having been selected to win a prize based on their participation in the rating system.
  • In view of the many possible embodiments to which the principles of the disclosed invention may be applied, it should be recognized that the illustrated embodiments are only preferred examples of the invention and should not be taken as limiting the scope of the invention. Rather, the scope of the invention is defined by the following claims. We therefore claim as our invention all that comes within the scope and spirit of these claims.

Claims (24)

1. A method of providing an entertainment game involving the selection of music for playback, the method comprising:
receiving information about a number of players that will be playing the game;
receiving information about a music challenge in which the players will be competing, the music challenge comprising a subject, topic, or category for which there are a plurality of songs that are responsive to the music challenge;
providing a database of songs from which each player can choose a selected song, each selected song being selected by a respective player in response to the music challenge;
playing at least a portion of the selected songs; and
polling the players to receive votes from the players,
wherein each player can vote for one of the selected songs.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein the database of songs comprises a plurality of songs that are available to be streamed via a secondary website.
3. The method of claim 1, wherein the secondary website comprises YouTube™.
4. The method of claim 1, wherein each player can choose their respective selected song either from the database of songs or from another source.
5. The method of claim 1, wherein the music challenge can be selected from a list of previously-identified challenges.
6. The method of claim 1, wherein each player is not permitted to vote for their own respective selected song.
7. The method of claim 1, further comprising providing a predetermined amount of time for each player to vote during the polling step.
8. The method of claim 1, wherein the playing of the at least a portion of the selected songs comprises playing an audio-only version of the selected songs, wherein a source of the selected songs comprises both audio and video components.
9. The method of claim 8, further comprising providing each player with the option to view the video component of the selected songs.
10. The method of claim 1, wherein the selected song that receives the most votes is subsequently played in its entirety.
11. The method of claim 2, wherein songs in the database are associated with at least one URL from which the song can be streamed.
12. The method of claim 11, wherein at least some of the songs in the database are associated with a plurality of URLs from which the song can be streamed.
13. The method of claim 12, wherein when playing the at least a portion of the selected songs, if a URL associated with the selected song is found to be inactive, another URL associated with the selected song is utilized.
14. The method of claim 11, wherein when playing the at least a portion of the selected songs, if all URLs associated with the selected song are found to be inactive, that selected song is skipped and not included in the voting.
15. The method of claim 1, wherein the players are permitted to add all of the selected songs into a playlist that can be saved.
16. The method of claim 1, wherein the players are in different geographic locations from one another while playing the game.
17. The method of claim 16, wherein players are provided targeted advertising messages based on their geographic locations.
18. The method of claim 1, wherein players are provided with incentives to play additional games, the incentives being of monetary value.
19. A method of promoting music, the method comprising:
receiving songs from a plurality of artists;
publishing the songs on a website so the songs are available for viewing by users of the website;
receiving ratings by the users about the quality of the published songs; and
identifying the songs that receive the highest ratings by the users.
20. The method of claim 19, wherein the artists of the songs that receive the highest rankings are provided with a prize.
21. The method of claim 20, wherein the prize is that the music of the artists that receive the highest rankings is further promoted on the website.
22. The method of claim 19, wherein the users are provided with incentives to rate the songs received from the artists.
23. The method of claim 22, wherein the incentives comprise instant prizes and prizes for rating a predetermined number of songs.
24. A method of providing music to users, the method comprising:
identifying URLs from which a plurality of songs can be streamed from a location on the Internet;
associating the URLs with the plurality of songs;
providing a searchable database that includes the streamable songs and their associated URLs; and
providing a playlist generator that creates a playlist of a plurality of the streamable songs upon selection by a user.
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