WO1992014526A1 - Display of pictures during the inactive mode of an arcade game - Google Patents

Display of pictures during the inactive mode of an arcade game

Info

Publication number
WO1992014526A1
WO1992014526A1 PCT/GB1992/000344 GB9200344W WO1992014526A1 WO 1992014526 A1 WO1992014526 A1 WO 1992014526A1 GB 9200344 W GB9200344 W GB 9200344W WO 1992014526 A1 WO1992014526 A1 WO 1992014526A1
Authority
WO
Grant status
Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
video
mode
graphics generator
means
system
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/GB1992/000344
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Gerald William Candy
Original Assignee
Gerald William Candy
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date

Links

Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/3202Hardware aspects of a gaming system, e.g. components, construction, architecture thereof
    • G07F17/3204Player-machine interfaces
    • G07F17/3211Display means
    • 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
    • A63F13/005Video games, i.e. games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions characterised by the type of game, e.g. ball games, fighting 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
    • 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

Abstract

A video graphics generator is provided for a video system such as an amusement machine which is operable in a first, inactive, mode and a second, active, mode and which includes a video display device, user operable activation means and a machine controller operable in both the first mode and, in response to activation of the activation means, in the second mode to output video signals for driving the display device. The video graphics generator comprises programmable means responsive to operation of the video system in the first mode to interrupt the video signals output by the machine controller for a predetermined interval and to substitute alternative video signals for display on the video display device during the interval.

Description

DISPLAY OF PICTURES DURING THE INACTIVE MODE OF AN ARCADE GAME

This invention relates to a video graphics generator suitable for use with a video system which is operable in a first, inactive, mode and a second, active, mode and which includes a video display device, user operable activation means and a machine controller operable in both the first mode and, in response to activation of the activation means, in the second mode to output video signals for driving the display device. Video systems such as amusement machines video arcade games normally have two modes of operation. In one mode of operation the amusement machine is operable to play a game on payment of an appropriate amount by a user. The amusement machine is normally provided with a number of switches, levers, joysticks, track balls and the like to enable a user to interact with the machine. Activation of this, play, mode is normally in response to the user inserting money or tokens into a coin or token mechanism. The play mode continues until the game has finished and/or the playtime bought by the user has run out. On termination of the play mode, the amusement machine will revert to a default, or attract, mode. In the attract mode, the amusement machine normally displays pictures which will attract the user to use the machine: hence the term 'attract' mode. Typically, an amusement machine spends most of its time in the attract mode waiting for a customer. A modern amusement machine, such as a video arcade game, is an expensive piece of equipment and it is undesirable that such a piece of equipment should spend a large percentage of its time not earning money for its owner and operator. An object of the present invention is, therefore, to address this problem. In accordance with a first aspect of the present invention, there is provided a video graphics generator for a video system which is operable in a first, inactive, mode and a second, active, mode and which includes a video display device, user operable activation means and a machine controller operable in both the first mode and, in response to activation of the activation means, in the second mode to output video signals for driving the display device, the video graphics generator comprising programmable means responsive to operation of the video system in the first mode to interrupt the video signals output by the machine controller for a predetermined interval and to substitute alternative video signals for display on the video display device during the interval.

Although the invention could be used on may different video system, such as sports ground score boards, bowling alley scoring systems and the like, it is particularly suitable for use in an amusement machine having an attract mode, a play mode and a play selection means.

The video graphics generator is preferably provided as an add-on unit for an existing video system. In use on an amusement machine, it enables the usual attract mode of such an amusement machine to be interrupted to permit the display of alternative video signals to those normally produced during the attract mode. These alternative video signals can be video signals forming one or more screens of one or more advertisements for products and/or services with the result that it is possible for the owner and/or operator of the machine to get royalties for the display of those advertisements.

Preferably, the programmable means comprises a solid state memory means for the storage of a plurality of screens of video graphics data and control logic for selecting a screen of video graphics data from storage for generating the alternative video signals for display. A screen of video graphics data can provide a powerful advertising mediu .

Preferably, the solid state memory means comprises one or more E- PROM type memories such as, for example, "flash E-PROM" memories. This has the advantage that a non volatile storage can be provided for the screens of video graphics data, whilst still permitting the screens of video data to be updated as required.

Preferably, the programmable means comprises a video switch having a first video input connected, in use, to receive the video signals output by the machine controller, a second video input connected, in use, to receive video signals from the solid state memory means, a video output connected, in use, to the video display device and a control input connected, in use, to receive control signals generated by the control logic for selecting the connection of the first, or the second video input to the video output. Preferably, the programmable means also comprises program storage for storage of the control logic and a microcontroller under control of the control logic. In the preferred embodiment, the control logic repeatedly interrupts the video signals from the machine controller in a first mode of operation thereof, the control logic causing the display of one screen of video data per interruption but cycling the screen of video data displayed for successive interruptions, the control logic permitting the display of the video signals from the machine controller for a predetermined period between interruptions.

The video graphics generator preferably comprises means for sensing the operational state of a payment mechanism and/or of user- operable controls and/or of indicator lights and/or of an audio output as an indication of a change of mode of operation of the video system. In the case of a change from the first to the second mode of operation, the control logic causes control to be returned to the amusement machine controller. As mentioned earlier, the video graphics generator is preferably in the form of an add-on unit for an existing video system, the video graphics generator comprising a first connection means for connecting the unit to the video output of the machine controller, a second connection means for connecting the unit to the video system's video display device and additional connection means for sensing the operating mode of the video system.

This allows the video graphics generator of this invention to be added to the large stock of existing video system already in the field. Furthermore, it is important that the video graphics generator should not adversely affect the reliability of the system to which it is added. The above features serve to isolate the video graphics generator from the rest of the video system to an advantageous extent.

The video graphics generator can additionally be provided with means for substituting alternative audio signals for the audio signals normally output by the video system during said interval in the first mode.

In accordance with the second aspect of the present invention there is provided a video graphics generator system for a video system, the video graphics generator system comprising a video graphics generator as defined above and a portable programming device for programming into the video graphics generator, a plurality of screens of video graphics data for generating the alternative video signals, the video graphics generator and the portable programming device being provided with mutually cooperating transmission means for permittin the transfer of data from the portable programming device to the video graphics generator.

The invention also provides a video system operable in a first, inactive, mode and a second, active mode, the video system comprising a video display device, user operable activation means, a machine controller operable in both the first mode and, in response to activation of the activation means, the second mode to output video signals for driving the display device and a video graphics generator as defined above.

A particular embodiment of the invention will be described hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings in which: Figure 1 is a schematic diagram of an amusement machine incorporating a video graphics generator; Figure 2 is a schematic block diagram of the video graphics generator of Figure 1;

Figure 3 is a flow diagram illustrating the operation of control logic for the video graphics generator of Figure 2.

Figure 1 is a schematic diagram of an amusement machine 10 to which a video graphics generator 30 has been added. The conventional amusement machine comprises a housing 12 with, accessible to a user externally to the machine, a coin, token, or other payment mechanism 1^ and various game controls 16, which can include one or more of the following: switches, levers, joysticks, trackballs and the like. A machine controller 20 is connected to the payment mechanism 14 and to the user operable controls 16 by control connections 22 and 23, respectively. Each of the connections 22 and 23 can comprise one or more lines as appropriate. At least one output from the machine controller 20 is in the form of a video signal which is passed via a video connection 26 to a video display device lδ (eg. a cathode ray tube with associated circuitry) . Also shown is a connection 24 from the machine controller 20 to an indicator light 17. It will be appreciated that a typical amusement machine has many such indicator lights, although these are not shown here for reason of clarity. Other connections, to further indicator or control lights and to an audio system, for example, can be provided. In addition, a power supply, normally connected to a mains electricity supply, and appropriate wiring will be provided. These additional elements, which can be conventional, are not shown for reasons of clarity.

The video graphics generator 30 is a feature not present conventional video based amusement machines. The video graphi generator 30 is inserted in the video connection 26 between the machi controller and the video display device 18. Thus, a first connecti 26A connects the video output of the machine controller to a vid input of the video graphics generator 30. A second connection 2 connects the video graphics generator to the cathode ray tube 18. addition, the video graphics generator is provided with contr connections 3-2 for sensing the operation of various elements of t amusement machine 10. In the example shown, the control connections 3 sense the operating states of the payment mechanism 14, the gam controls 16 and the indicator light 17. These control connections 3 are not present in a conventional amusement machine. Figure 2 is a schematic block diagram of a video graphic generator 30. The video graphics generator 30 is microcontrolle based. A microcontroller 3^ is connected to a number of other syste units via a computer bus 3 . Connected to the microcontroller 3^ vi this bus 36 are a read only program memory 38 for the storage o control programs, an E-PROM (erasable programmable read only memory array 4θ (e.g. of flash E-PROM memory chips) forming a picture memor for the storage of a plurality of screens of video graphics data, video controller 42 for controlling the reading of graphics data from and the writing of graphics data to the picture memory 40, an RG palette DAC (digital to analogue converter) 44 and an externa programmer connector 52. The microcontroller 3 contains its ow internal working random access memory (RAM) . However, provision i made for the optional addition of extra RAM 50 to the computer bus 36 The data output from the array of E-PROMs 40 is connected to the RG palette DAC 44, which converts the digital graphics data from th picture memory into colour signals. The output of the RGB palette DA 44 is connected to one input, G, of a video switch 46 via a vide connector line 48. The video output of the machine controller 20 i connected via the video connection 26A to the second input A of th video switch 46. The output 0 of the video switch 46 is connected t the video connection 26B to the cathode ray tube 18. The video switc is connected via control lines 49 to the microcontroller 34. In orde to that the video graphics generator should not adversely affect th reliability of the amusement machine, the video switch 46 is arranged to have a default state in which the video output of the machine controller 20 is passed to the cathode ray tube 18. Thus, if the video graphics generator fails, then the amusement machine still operates. The microcontroller 3^ is linked via an opto-isolator 54 to the control connections 32 for sensing the operational state of the payment mechanism 14, the game controls 16 and the indicator lights 17 of the amusement machine. The microcontroller 34 has a selection of different types of detection circuitry for use with different sensing schemes. For example, if a simple 'insert money' light is being monitored then a logic gate will be sufficient, but if an attract mode audio signal is being monitored then an integrator would need to be inserted in front of a logic gate to provide an binary indication of whether or not audio output signals are being generated. Also shown in Figure 2 is external interface circuitry which can be used for reprogramming the microcontroller 3 via an external serial port 58.

The programmer 52 is used for connecting a programmer device (not shown) for programming the picture memory 42, which, as mentioned above, is used to hold a plurality of screens of graphics data. In the preferred embodiment eight screens are stored. When it is intended to programme the picture memory, an E-PROM programmer device (not shown) is plugged into the programmer connector 52. In the present embodiment of the invention the programmer connector 2 is an electrical socket, the programmer having a co-operating plug. However, the socket could be provided on the programmer device and the plug on the video graphics generator 30. An optical link could alternatively be provided in other embodiments. On insertion of the plug of the programmer device into the socket 5 , the microcontroller senses that the video graphics generator is to be programmed. This causes the microcontroller to activate a programming mode, and, in a conventional manner, data can then can be loaded from the portable programming device into the E-PROM array 42 under the control of the video controller 42. The video graphics data for respective screens are stored at respective sets of locations within the E-PROMs 42. The microcontroller maintains a pointer to a current video graphics screen for display. This operation, which is conventional in nature, is not be described further herein. On completion of the programming operation, the programming device is disconnected from the video graphics generator 30.

Figure 3 illustrates the operation of the video graphics generator under control of control logic stored in the ROM 38. The amusement machine 10 is operable in two different modes. The default mode, or attract mode, is one in which the machine controller of the amusement machine generates video information for display on the cathode ray tube 18 which is intended to attract a customer to use the amusement machine 10. In a second, play mode, which is operable after actuation of the payment mechanism 14, the user is able to use the user operable means 16 to interact with programs in the machine controller 20 to play a game.

The purpose of the video graphics generator is to interrupt the attract mode for the display of alternative video data in the form of graphics screens whilst ensuring that the play mode is not interrupted. The alternative graphics screens can take the form of advertisements for products or services. Figure 3 illustrates the operation of control logic of the video graphics generator 30, the control logic being stored in the ROM 38.

The control logic 60 tests whether a play mode has been activated by sensing signals on the control connections 32. This test is made repeatedly until the play mode ceases as detected by control signals on the control connections 32. When the play mode ceases, the amusement machine reverts to the default, or attract mode. On detecting this, the control logic 62 sets a first timer, TG, and a second timer, TA. The control logic 64 then causes the video switch to connect input G to output 0. A current screen of video graphics data can then be passed via the connection 48 via the video switch 46 and the video connection

26B to the video display device 18. The screen of video graphics data to be displayed is determined by addresses supplied via the bus 36 using the pointer maintained by the microcontroller 3^-

If the control logic 66 detects that a play mode has been reselected (e.g. by operation of the payment mechanism 14) , the control logic 68 switches the video switch back so that the input A is connected to the output 0. At this point, the screen of graphics data from the picture memory 40 ceases to be displayed, being replaced by the output from the machine controller 20. If, the control logic 66 does not detect that the play mode has been activated, the control logic 70 decrements the timer TG and then the control logic 7 tests whether the timer TG has timed out. If the control logic 72 determines that the timer TG has not counted out yet, then control reverts to the control logic 66. If the control logic 72 determines that the timer TG has timed, or counted out, this indicates that the current screen or video graphics data has been displayed for the desired length of time. In this case, the control logic 74 resets the timer TG and causes the pointer to the current graphics screen to be updated to point to the next graphics screen within the picture memory 40. The control logic 7 operates in such a manner that the video graphics generator cycles repeatedly through the screens of video graphics data stored therein. The control logic 7^ then causes the video switch to switch the input A to the output 0 causing the display of data from the machine controller 20 on the video connection 26A to be displayed on the video display device 18 via the video connection 26B. The control logic 76 then tests whether the play mode has been activated. If the play mode has been activated, control returns to the control logic 60. If play mode has not been activated, however, the control logic 78 decrements the timer TA and then the control logic 80 tests whether the timer TA has counted out. If the timer TA has not counted out, then control returns to the control logic 76. If the control logic 80 determines that the timer TA has counted out, indicating that the attract mode has been displayed for a desired period, then the control logic 82 resets timer TA and control passes back to the control logic 64. Thus, it can be seen that the timers TG and TA, which are preferably implemented as counters, enable different periods to be set for the display of the video graphics screens, and the attract mode, respectively by setting appropriate initial counts in the respective counters.

The preferred embodiment of the invention is in the form of an add-on unit for an existing amusement machine. Accordingly, it is provided in a housing, (not shown) , having attachment means (not shown) for attaching the video graphics generator at an appropriate position within the amusement machine. The control connections 32 required in any specific embodiment, will depend on the specific amusement machine for which the video graphics generator is intended. These connections are to appropriate positions within the amusement machine to test the operational state of the machine. The video graphics generator is ideally provided with connectors plugs and/or sockets for providing easy connection of the video graphics generator into the video connection 26. Easy access to the connector 2 for programming the picture memory 40 by means of a portable programming device can be provided. Ideally this is arranged by situating the video graphics generator at a position within the amusement machine, close to the payment mechanism. Then, a service engineer, when visiting to empty the payment mechanism of any coins, can re-program the picture memory 40. Although a specific embodiment of the invention has been described, it will be appreciated that many additions and modifications are possible. For example, although in the preferred embodiment, the video graphics generator is provided as an add-on unit for an existing amusement machine, it could be incorporated as an integral component in a new amusement machine.

Although, in the present embodiment a flash E-PROM is used for the storage of the screens of video graphics data, other sorts of re- programmable memory could be used. For example, a conventional RAM could be used, although in this case a battery back-up would be desirable to avoid the screens of video graphics data being erased if the power supply is interrupted.

With the provision of a more complicated video switch, the alternative video graphic images could be displayed over a part of the screens from the attract mode, rather than replacing them altogether. Alternatively, a plurality of screens of graphics data could be displayed on each interruption of the attract mode, the plurality of screens being shown one after the other or simultaneously (e.g. at different screen positions).

The video graphics generator could additionally be provided with means for interrupting the audio output of the amusement machine. Thus, in the case of an advertisement, when a video graphics screen is displayed on the display device, this could be accompanied by the playing of a current jingle used in a corresponding television advertising campaign.

Claims

1. A video graphics generator for a video system which is operable in a first, inactive, mode and a second, active, mode and which includes a video display device, user operable activation means and a machine controller operable in both the first mode and, in response to activation of the activation means, in the second mode to output video signals for driving the display device, the video graphics generator comprising programmable means responsive to operation of the video system in the first mode to interrupt the video signals output by the machine controller for a predetermined interval and to substitute alternative video signals for display on the video display device during the interval.
2. A video graphics generator as claimed in Claim 1, wherein the video system is an amusement machine, the first mode is an attract mode, the second mode is a play mode and the activation means is a play select means.
3- A video graphics generator as claimed in any one of Claims 1 or 2, wherein the programmable means comprises solid state memory for the storage of a plurality of screens of videos graphics data, and control logic for selecting a screen of video graphics data from storage for generating the alternative video signals for display.
4. A video graphics generator as claimed in Claim 3 wherein the solid state memory means comprises one or more E-PROM memories.
5. A video graphics generator as claimed in any one of Claims 3 or 4, wherein the programmable means comprises a video switch having a first video input connected, in use, to receive the video signals output by the machine controller, a second video input connected, in use, to receive video signals from the solid state memory means, a video output connected, in use, to the video display device and a control input connected, in use, to receive control signals generated by the control logic for selecting the connection of the first, or the second video input to the video output.
6. A video graphics generator as claimed in any one of Claims 3 5, wherein the programmable means comprises program storage for stor of the control logic and a microcontroller under the control of control logic.
7. A video graphics generator as claimed in any one of Claim 3 t wherein the control logic repeatedly interrupts the video signals fr the machine controller in the first mode of operation thereof, t control logic causing the display of a selectable number screens video data per interruption, by cycling the screen of video da displayed for successive interruptions, the control logic permitti the display of the video signals from the machine controller for predetermined period between interruptions.
8. A video graphics generator as claimed in any one of the precedi claims including means for sensing the operational state of a payme mechanism and/or of user operable controls and/or of indicator ligh and/or of an audio output as an indication of a change of mode operation of the video system.
9. A video graphics generator as claimed in any one of the precedi claims as an add-on unit for a video system, the video graphi generator comprising a first connection means for connecting the un to the video output of the machine controller, a second connecti means for connecting the unit to the video system's display device a additional connection means for sensing the operating mode of the vid system.
10. A video graphics generator as claimed in any preceding cla comprising means for substituting alternative audio signals for t audio signals normally output by the video system during said interv in the first mode.
11. A video graphics generator system for a video system, the vid graphics generator system comprising a video graphics generator claimed in any one of the preceding Claims and a portable programmi device for programming into the video graphics generator, a plurali of screens of video graphics data for generating the alternative vid signals, the video graphics generator and the portable programmi device being provided with mutually cooperating transmission means f permitting the transfer of data from the portable programming device the video graphics generator.
11. A video system operable in a first, inactive, mode and a second active mode, the video system comprising a video display device, use operable activation means, a machine controller operable in both th first mode and, in response to activation of the activation means, th second mode to output video signals for driving the display device an a video graphics generator as claimed in any one of Claim 1 to 9>
PCT/GB1992/000344 1991-02-26 1992-02-26 Display of pictures during the inactive mode of an arcade game WO1992014526A1 (en)

Priority Applications (2)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
GB9103936A GB9103936D0 (en) 1991-02-26 1991-02-26 Video graphics generator for an amusement machine
GB9103936.2 1991-02-26

Publications (1)

Publication Number Publication Date
WO1992014526A1 true true WO1992014526A1 (en) 1992-09-03

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Family Applications (1)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
PCT/GB1992/000344 WO1992014526A1 (en) 1991-02-26 1992-02-26 Display of pictures during the inactive mode of an arcade game

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GB (1) GB9103936D0 (en)
WO (1) WO1992014526A1 (en)

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EP0579505A1 (en) * 1992-07-16 1994-01-19 Gerald William Candy Video graphics apparatus
EP0685246A1 (en) * 1994-06-01 1995-12-06 Sony Corporation Video game apparatus with external memory devices
US6264555B1 (en) * 1999-02-05 2001-07-24 Midway Games, Inc. Amusement game including video displays not related to the game
US7766749B2 (en) * 2001-02-07 2010-08-03 Wms Gaming Inc. Centralized gaming system with modifiable remote display terminals

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US7043641B1 (en) 2000-03-08 2006-05-09 Igt Encryption in a secure computerized gaming system
US7988559B2 (en) 2001-03-08 2011-08-02 Igt Computerized gaming system, method and apparatus
US8708828B2 (en) 2001-09-28 2014-04-29 Igt Pluggable modular gaming modifiers and configuration templates for gaming environments
US6902481B2 (en) 2001-09-28 2005-06-07 Igt Decoupling of the graphical presentation of a game from the presentation logic
US7931533B2 (en) 2001-09-28 2011-04-26 Igt Game development architecture that decouples the game logic from the graphics logics
EP1583592A1 (en) 2002-12-02 2005-10-12 Alcatel Games console adaptor unit
GB0212567D0 (en) * 2002-05-30 2002-07-10 Thirdspace Living Ltd Interactive television system

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EP0579505A1 (en) * 1992-07-16 1994-01-19 Gerald William Candy Video graphics apparatus
US5412404A (en) * 1992-07-16 1995-05-02 Candy; Gerald W. Video graphics apparatus
EP0685246A1 (en) * 1994-06-01 1995-12-06 Sony Corporation Video game apparatus with external memory devices
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US6264555B1 (en) * 1999-02-05 2001-07-24 Midway Games, Inc. Amusement game including video displays not related to the game
US7766749B2 (en) * 2001-02-07 2010-08-03 Wms Gaming Inc. Centralized gaming system with modifiable remote display terminals

Also Published As

Publication number Publication date Type
GB9103936D0 (en) 1991-04-10 grant
GB2253325A (en) 1992-09-02 application

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