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Publication numberUS20020002074 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 09/867,388
Publication dateJan 3, 2002
Filing dateMay 31, 2001
Priority dateJun 30, 2000
Also published asCA2351799A1
Publication number09867388, 867388, US 2002/0002074 A1, US 2002/002074 A1, US 20020002074 A1, US 20020002074A1, US 2002002074 A1, US 2002002074A1, US-A1-20020002074, US-A1-2002002074, US2002/0002074A1, US2002/002074A1, US20020002074 A1, US20020002074A1, US2002002074 A1, US2002002074A1
InventorsStephen White, Adam Morand, Randall Peterson
Original AssigneeCyop Systems
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method for an online player game payment system
US 20020002074 A1
Abstract
An online multiple player game payment system includes one or more game clients, master servers, game hosts, payment gateways and statistics monitors. A game client has software that displays visual game information on a remote computer and allows the computer to send and receive user data to and from the game host utilizing existing communications hardware located in the remote computer. A master server includes software that collects information on currently operating game hosts and receives requests from game clients for this information. A game host includes software that controls game client interaction in various contests of skill and utilizes existing communications hardware to send and receive user data to and from game clients, payment gateways and statistics monitors. A payment gateway is provided by software executing on a computer to receive user data from a game host and verifying that data against an existing database of credit information, in addition to sending user data back to the game host containing the results of the verification. A statistics monitor receives user data from a game host containing information regarding the outcome of the various contests of skill and records this information in a database for the purposes of accounting.
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Claims(37)
What is claimed is:
1. A method for online multiple player game payment and play, comprising the steps of:
receiving a request from at least one game client for a listing of available games resident on a game host;
sending a list of available games to said at least one game client;
receiving a game selection, specifying a game, from said at least one game client;
sending credit information to a payment gateway;
awaiting approval of the credit information from said payment gateway;
beginning the game, on receipt of said approval, and sending data to said at least one game client so that representations of the game are rendered to a user;
receiving user data from said at least one game client to register actions by said user in the game; and
sending information to said payment gateway upon completion of the game to update an account balance for said user.
2. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 1, wherein the method further comprises:
sending statistical information on said game, upon completion of said game, to a statistics monitor to update a statistics database.
3. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 2, wherein said step of sending statistical information on said game further comprises updating a ranking for said user.
4. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 3, wherein said at least one game client comprises multiple game clients, each game client having a selected user, based on said ranking for each of said selected users, and the method further comprises:
coordinating user data received from said multiple game clients to manage interactions of said selected users, and sending data to said multiple game clients that represents said interactions to be rendered to said selected users.
5. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 1, wherein said data sent to said at least one game client is three-dimensional data about viewed objects in the game to render a visual scene to the user.
6. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 1, wherein said at least one game client comprises multiple game clients and the method further comprises:
coordinating user data received from said multiple game clients to manage interactions of multiple users of said multiple game clients, and sending data to said multiple game clients that represents said interactions to be rendered to the multiple users.
7. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 6, wherein the coordinating of user data received from said multiple game clients is performed by a three-dimensional physics engine that manages interaction of representations of the multiple users with each other and three dimensional elements of the game.
8. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 6, wherein the method further comprises
increasing the account balance for a particular user of said multiple users, upon completion of the game, when said particular user wins the game;
wherein an amount of said increase in the account balance of said particular user is related to a total number of said multiple users.
9. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 1, wherein before the step of receiving a game selection, the method further comprises a step of requesting and receiving credit information from said at least one game client.
10. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 1, wherein before the step of receiving a game selection, the method further comprises:
determining whether predetermined account information exists for said at least one game client or said user; and
accessing said predetermined account information for said at least one game client or said user.
11. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 1, wherein the account balance for said user is increased in value, upon completion of the game, when said user wins the game.
12. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 1, wherein said user is a spectator user and said step of receiving user data from said at least one game client to register actions by said user in the game comprises receiving spectator user data related to a desired view of the game selected by the spectator user.
13. A method for online multiple player game payment and play comprising the steps of:
selecting a game to play from a game host, wherein said game host sends credit information to a payment gateway;
receiving data to render the game when the credit information is verified and approved; and
sending user data to said game host to register actions of a user in the game; and
sending information indicating or acknowledging a completion of the game, wherein update information is subsequently sent to said payment gateway to update an account balance for the user.
14. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 13, wherein the received data to render the game is three-dimensional data representing viewed objects in the game to render a visual scene to the user.
15. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 13, wherein the received data to render the game includes representations of other users, corresponding to multiple users, interacting with said game host playing the game.
16. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 15, wherein said step of sending information indicating or acknowledging a completion of the game includes sending statistical information on said game to a statistics monitor and assigning said user a ranking.
17. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 15, wherein the method further comprises
increasing the account balance for a particular user of said multiple users, upon completion of the game, when said particular user wins the game;
wherein an amount of said increase in the account balance of said particular user is related to a total number of said multiple users.
18. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 15, wherein the method further comprises
increasing the account balance for a particular user of said multiple users, upon completion of the game, when said particular user wins the game;
wherein an amount of said increase in the account balance of said particular user is a fixed amount.
19. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 13, further comprising the steps of:
sending a request to a master server for a list of available game hosts;
receiving the list of available game hosts from said master server; and
selecting said game host from the list of available game hosts.
20. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 13, wherein before the step of selecting a game from a game host, the method further comprises a step of sending said credit information to said game host upon a request from said game host for said credit information.
21. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 13, wherein predetermined account information exists for said user and access to said predetermined account information by said game host is permitted.
22. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 13, wherein the account balance for said user is increased in value, upon completion of the game, when said user wins the game.
23. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 13, wherein said user is a spectator user and said step of sending user data to said game host to register actions by said user in the game comprises sending spectator user data related to a desired view of the game selected by the spectator user.
24. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 15, wherein said user is a spectator user and said multiple users are spectator users and whereby the spectator users interact with the game host to view the game and interact with each other.
25. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 24, wherein said update information is based on interactions between the spectator users.
26. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 25, wherein the account balance for said spectator user is changed in value, upon completion of the game, based upon the spectator user's interaction with others of said spectator users.
27. A method for online multiple player game payment and play, comprising the steps of:
awaiting a request from at least one game client for a listing of available game hosts;
receiving said request from said at least one game client;
sending a list of available game hosts to said at least one game client;
awaiting completion of a game by a user at said at least one game client;
receiving payment information, with respect to said user, upon said completion of said game;
sending statistical information on said game played by said user, upon said completion of said game, to a statistical monitor to update a statistics database.
28. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 27, wherein said step of sending statistical information on said game further comprises updating a ranking for said user.
29. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 28, wherein said step of awaiting a request from at least one game client comprises awaiting a plurality of requests from a plurality of game clients; a plurality of users, at said plurality of game clients, play said game; and said step of sending statistical information comprises sending statistical information on said game related to results of said plurality of game clients in said game.
30. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 29, wherein said plurality of users are selected based on said ranking for each of said plurality of users.
31. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 29, further comprising:
increasing an account balance for a particular user of said multiple users, upon completion of the game, when said particular user wins the game; wherein an amount of said increase in the account balance of said particular user is related to a total number of said multiple users.
32. A method for online multiple player game payment and play according to claim 27, wherein said step of receiving payment information includes updating an account balance for said user using said payment information; and wherein said account balance is increased in value, upon completion of the game, when said user wins the game.
33. An online multiple player game payment system, comprising:
at least one game client;
one or more game hosts, with each game host having a selection of games that are playable in conjunction with said at least game client;
a master server, supplying a listing of said game hosts upon receipt of a request from said at least game client;
a payment gateway, for verifying and approving user credit information sent from said at least one game client, said one or more game hosts, or said master server upon selection of one of said games; and
a statistics monitor, for receiving data regarding an outcome of said game from one or more game hosts and recording said data in a database.
34. An online multiple player game payment system according to claim 33 wherein said statistics monitor assigns a ranking for a user, playing said game at said at least one game client, based on the outcome of said game.
35. An online multiple player game payment system according to claim 34 wherein said at least one game client comprises multiple game clients each having a particular user of multiple users, said one or more game hosts is configured such that said multiple game clients play said game and each of said multiple users is selected based on said ranking for each of said multiple users.
36. An online multiple player game payment system according to claim 33 wherein said at least one game client comprises multiple game clients each having a particular user of multiple users, said one or more game hosts is configured such that said multiple game clients play said game and each of said multiple users is selected based on a ranking for each of said multiple users.
37. An online multiple player game payment system according to claim 33 wherein said selection of games that are playable in conjunction with said at least game client are also playable in a spectator mode such that actions by a user at said at least one game client have no influence on the game.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates to the field of online pay-for-play and/or play-for-pay game services generally and, more particularly, to the field of management of usage fees for those services. More generally, the present invention relates to a system for offering pay-for-play and/or play-for-pay games online and, more particularly, to an efficient system for regulating and charging subscribers for the game services used.

[0003] 2. Description of the Related Art

[0004] Online video games currently available on the internet typically include a personal computer that is connected in some fashion to an ISP (Internet Service Provider), and running software acting as a game client. The game client uses the connection to the ISP to interact with a server managing other game clients and hence other players, allowing competition in that game to occur between any player worldwide on that particular server.

[0005] In the traditional world of video games, a consumer must either purchase the hardware required to play such games, or insert coins into a machine to play. The former traditional setup limits the consumer to only those games that the consumer has physically in his or her possession. The latter fee (i.e. inserted coins) covers the cost of operating the machine and the maintenance costs incurred from standard wear of the system.

[0006] By the very nature of the internet and personal computers, these solutions no longer provide adequate or valid means of generating revenue. As consumers will not want to purchase hardware to run a game when they already have capable equipment, and it is not possible to insert coin into a machine that may be used in a vastly different location.

[0007] The majority of the companies that have games playable via the internet today generate revenue by selling their product through popular retail stores and magazines. This solution, however, is fraught with a number of problems. For example, retail stores have a finite amount of shelf space, and are very particular as to which software titles they carry. A significant amount of effort must be placed into convincing a major retailer to carry a company's title.

[0008] In addition, the media on which the software is distributed is commonly accessible and the data it contains is easily copied. In recent years the unauthorized copying and/or piracy of commercial software has risen to dramatic proportions, as this activity is almost impossible to effectively detect and difficult to enjoin.

[0009] Lastly, the number of shareware products, shareware being software that has been developed by parties that do not want to attempt to deal with the previous two issues and distribute their products for a low cost, has been on the rise. This raises the question as to why a consumer would want to pay twice as much for one product over another.

[0010] One way to address these problems is to charge a player for actual video game usage as opposed to charging for the game itself, in much the same manner that coin-operated games do now. This would allow game developers to develop and distribute their products freely, and still effectively generate revenue.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0011] Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a payment system for online multiple player and single player games. The present invention allows for online users to play multiple player and single player games in an environment that supports a play-for-pay service. The payment system allows multiple game clients to interact with a game host. The game hosts interact with a master server that interfaces with a statistics monitor and a payment gateway so that players' accounts can be maintained and updated based on the results of games played by the online player. The above system is also applicable to a “play-for-pay” service, where online users can earn credits for their skilled play against other players.

[0012] A first embodiment of the present invention is directed to method for online multiple player and single player game payment and play with respect to the game host. This method includes the steps of receiving a request from at least one game client for a listing of available games resident on a game host, then sending a list of available games to the game client. The game selection is received, and thus the game is specified by the game client. Credit information is then sent to a payment gateway and the game host awaits approval of the credit information from the payment gateway. On receipt of the approval of the credit information, the game is begun which includes sending data to the game client so that representations of the game are rendered to a user and receiving user data from the game client to register actions by the user in the game. Upon completion of the game, information is sent to the payment gateway to update an account balance for the user.

[0013] Alternatively, the method of the first embodiment can also include the step of sending statistical information on the game, upon completion of the game, to a statistics monitor to update a statistics database. The statistical data can be used to produce and update rankings for the users. Also the method is applicable where the data sent to the game client is three-dimensional data about viewed objects in the game to render a visual scene to the user. The first embodiment also allows for multiple game clients and the method provides for coordination of the user data received from the multiple game clients to manage the interactions of multiple users. Alternately, the multiple users may be chosen based on their rankings. With multiple users interacting in the same game, the coordination of user data received from the multiple game clients is performed by a three-dimensional physics engine that manages interaction of representations of the multiple users with each other and three dimensional elements of the game. The method is also applicable to games that use both one-dimensional and two-dimensional data in place of the three-dimensional data.

[0014] In addition, the method can also include requesting and receiving credit information from at least one game client before receiving the game selection. Alternatively, predetermined account information may exist for at least one game client or the user and that information may be accessed in lieu of requesting and receiving credit information.

[0015] In the method of the first embodiment, the account balance for the user may be increased in value, upon completion of the game, when the user wins the game. Thus, the users' accounts can fluctuate depending on their abilities at the games that they play on the online game system.

[0016] A second embodiment of the present invention is directed to a method for an online multiple player and single player game payment system with respect to the game clients. This method includes the steps of selecting a game to play from a game host, wherein said game host sends credit information to a payment gateway. The game client then receives data to render the game when the credit information is verified and approved and then sends user data to the game host to register actions of a user in the game. The game client sends information indicating or acknowledging a completion of the game, wherein the update information is sent to the payment gateway to update an account balance for the user.

[0017] Alternatively, the method of the second embodiment is also applicable when the received data to render the game is three-dimensional data about viewed objects in the game to render a visual scene to the user and when the received data to render the game includes representations of other users interacting with the game host playing the game. The method is also applicable to games that use both one-dimensional and two-dimensional data. Also, in such a tournament, the amount that a winning user's account may increase is based on the total number of users interacting with the game host, i.e., playing the same game.

[0018] The second embodiment of the present invention can also include the steps of sending a request to a master server for a list of available game hosts, receiving the list of available game hosts from the master server and selecting the game host from the list of available game hosts.

[0019] In addition, before selecting a game from a game host, the method may further include sending credit information to the game host upon a request from the game host for said credit information. Alternatively, the game client may have predetermined account information for a user and permit access to the predetermined account information by the game host.

[0020] In the method of the second embodiment, the account balance for the user may be increased in value, upon completion of the game, when the user wins the game. Thus, the users' accounts can fluctuate depending on their abilities at the games that they play on the online game system.

[0021] A third embodiment is directed to a method for an online multiple player and single player game payment system with respect to the master server. This method includes the steps of awaiting and processing a request from at least one game client. The master server sends a list of available game hosts to the game client, so that a game host and eventually a game may be selected by the user. Upon completion of the game, the master server receives information related to the updating of the user's account. In addition, statistical information is also sent to a statistical monitor to update a statistical database.

[0022] The third embodiment can also include rankings of the users and also allows for multiple users to engage in tournament play. Those users may be selected based on their rankings and the amount that can be earned by a individual user is related to the total number of users.

[0023] A fourth embodiment of the present invention is directed an online multiple player and single player game payment system. The system includes at least one game client, one or more game hosts, with each game host having a selection of games that are playable in conjunction with at least one game client. The system also includes a master server, supplying a listing of game hosts upon receipt of a request from at least one game client. The system also includes a payment gateway, for verifying and approving user credit information sent from at least one game client, one or more game hosts, or the master server, upon selection of one of the games. A statistics monitor, for receiving data regarding an outcome of the game from one or more game hosts and recording the data in a database is also included in the system.

[0024] The fourth embodiment also includes the ranking of users and the system may be configured to have multiple users competing in the same game.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0025] The features of the disclosed method and system will become more readily apparent and may be better understood by referring to the following detailed description of illustrative embodiments of the present invention, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. FIGS. 1 to 7 show an embodiment of the present invention, wherein

[0026]FIG. 1 illustrates overall configuration of an online multiple player game system;

[0027]FIG. 2 illustrates a schematic representation of the game client;

[0028]FIG. 3 illustrates a schematic representation of the game host;

[0029]FIG. 4 illustrates a schematic representation of the master server;

[0030]FIG. 5 illustrates a schematic representation of the statistics monitor; and

[0031]FIG. 6 illustrates a schematic representation of the payment gateway.

[0032]FIG. 7 is a flowchart illustrating the method of providing an online multiple player game payment system according to an embodiment of the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0033] An embodiment of the present invention will now be described with reference to FIGS. 1 to 7.

[0034]FIG. 1 schematically illustrates an online multiple player game payment system according to an embodiment of the invention. An online multiple player game payment system includes one or more game clients, master servers, game hosts, payment gateways and statistics monitors. The game clients interact with the game hosts via the internet. The master server maintains a list of the game hosts and interacts with those game hosts. The master server also interacts with the payment gateway and a statistics monitor.

[0035] A game client, an example of which is illustrated schematically in FIG. 2, consists of software that displays visual game information on a remote computer and allows the computer to send and receive digital data to and from the game host utilizing existing communications hardware located in the remote computer. The game client uses user input devices, such as a keyboard and a mouse, to direct the functioning of the game client. Although a keyboard and mouse are specified, the present invention is not limited those types of input devices. An example of the game client would be a personal computer.

[0036] The game client also includes a communication means that provides for the ability to communicate between the game client and the game host. Such communication means are known in the art and can include networking cards, wireless communication devices, communication lines, etc. The communication means may operate under TCP/IP or UDP, but is not limited to such protocols. The game client also includes a visual rendering engine that renders data received so that the user can see representations of the game and interact therewith.

[0037] A game host, illustrated schematically in FIG. 3, can include software that controls game client interaction in various contests of skill and utilizes existing communications hardware to send and receive digital data to and from game clients, payment gateways and statistics monitors. The communication means of the game host can be similar to that provided in the game client. A 3D physics engine allows for interaction between multiple players on multiple game clients. The engine also determines the properties of game elements, the collisions between game elements, and the rules for interaction between representations of the players and game objects. While a 3D physics engine is illustrated, the part of the game host that mediates the users interactions with the game is not so limited. A 2D physics engine or other engine for processing input from the game clients may also be employed.

[0038] A master server, illustrated schematically in FIG. 4, can include software that collects information on currently operating game hosts and receives requests from game clients for this information. The master server can also interact with the payment gateway. The master server maintains a list of active game hosts, adding or removing game hosts from the list as the status of the game hosts change.

[0039] A statistics monitor, shown in FIG. 5, receives digital data from a game host containing information regarding the outcome of the various contests of skill and records this information in a database for the purposes of accounting. The statistics monitor also interacts with an accounting department so that player's accounts may be serviced. The statistics monitor also includes a statistics module that receives data from the hosts, updates a database and generates reports regarding the statistics.

[0040] It is noted that the present description provides for the game hosts, the master server and the statistics monitor to be separate but connected, as illustrated in FIG. 1. However, the present invention is not so limited. The master server may also act as a game host, that is providing games to a game client as well as coordinating between game hosts. Additionally, while the statistics monitor has been discussed as a separate machine, the statistics monitor may be included in the master server as a separate function utilizing the same hardware.

[0041] A payment gateway, illustrated schematically in FIG. 6, can include software executing on a computer to receive digital data from a game host and verifying that data against an existing database of credit information, in addition to sending digital data back to the game host containing the results of the verification. The payment gateway includes a payment processing module. The payment processing module validates credit information received by the game hosts and checks the information against a negative credit database. The results of the check are forwarded back to the game host for proper processing.

[0042] The overall function of the present invention will now be explained. The process is illustrated in the process steps illustrated in FIG. 7. The player initiates a session through the use of a game client. The game client communicates with a master server (701) and receives a list of game hosts that are currently available (702), sorted by bandwidth and network latency, allowing the player to choose a game host that is closest to his location (703). Alternatively, the game host closest to the player's location can be selected automatically. In addition, in alternate embodiments, the game client may communicate with game hosts without interacting with the master server. Such may be the case where a player has set up preferences or is resuming previous play.

[0043] The players can interact with the various game hosts to peruse the games listed with those game hosts and select a game to play (704). When a game is selected, credit information is sent to a payment gateway via the game host controlling the game (705). The system operates with existing authorizing financial institutions and credit card processing services over a secure network.

[0044] Once the credit information has been verified and approved (706), the game host will begin the game (708) and begin to send game play data, which could include one-dimensional, two-dimensional or three-dimensional data. One-dimensional data may be used to provide audio only games for the visually impaired. Two-dimensional or three-dimensional data is provided to specify viewed objects to the client so that the client can render a visual scene for the player (709). Alternately, with sufficient bandwidth, the game host can provide rendered game data to the player that would not require processing by the client other than display. Thus, the game host would be interacting directly with player within only facilitation by the game client. Data regarding the users actions in the game are detected, such as movements made in the game is polled from the mouse and keyboard of the game client, and that data is sent to the game host. The data representing action of the user in the game is processed by the game host, and in the case for visual games, the data is translated into actions to be applied to the visual objects (710). If the credit information is not verified or approved, then this denial is reported back to the client (707) and the playing of the game is not allowed.

[0045] Upon completion of the game, information is sent from the game host to the payment gateway to update the account balances of the clients and statistical information on the game is sent to the statistics monitor (711). On a predetermined interval, summary accounting reports may be generated by the statistics monitor and emailed to appropriate interested parties.

[0046] In the same way that money is entered into an arcade game console in exchange for game credits or lives, the system allows an individual to set up a financial account and purchase game credits for online, interactive games. In this play-for-pay portion of the present invention, the cost of a game can be amortized over time by the user paying a small predetermined amount for each play of the game. This allows for shareware game authors to receive a benefit for their labors without having to request a price for a game upfront. It also allows users to play a game, on a pro rata basis, and decide while playing if they believe that the game is worth the “costs” involved.

[0047] While a portion of the present invention is directed to having a game client select a game from a game host and having data sent from the game host to the game client, the present invention is also directed to online play when the user has previously purchased the game. In the latter case, the data sent from the game host is different and the game host monitors the users actions and coordinates the interactions between multiple users.

[0048] Another portion of the present invention is also directed to a play-for-pay aspect of the invention. In such a portion, the skilled abilities of users can allow the users to earn credits based on their meritorious play. For instance, a player can set up an account and begin to play. If that player defeats another player, he/she will gain an appropriate amount in their account. This amount can be proportional to the amount required for play by the losing player. Similarly, team play is also possible with players forming teams and competing against other teams. For example, if two players are playing against another team of two players, then the winning team would take all from the losing team, i.e. the accounts of the winning team players would be increased.

[0049] This aspect can also be implemented during tournament play, where the user plays a game against many users. Such play is analogous to golf tournaments that are played in the United States and around the world. Thus, users could play in a single tournament with purse that would be awarded to the winner of the tournament. The tournaments can also be played in heats occurring in many games, with the winning players advancing. In such a case, the top players at the end of the tournament could be awarded increases in their accounts based on where they finished in that tournament. Such tournaments also allow the players the options of playing in various levels, i.e. if a player wins a novice tournament, the player could then play in tournaments with players having greater skill. This can be accomplished in conjunction with player rankings, as discussed below.

[0050] Instead of competing in a tournament for a prize or a trophy, the system allows game players all over the world to compete with each other and watch their real time financial accounts fluctuate based on their abilities. Tournaments may be facilitated by a single or a plurality of game hosts and the tournaments may be by “invitation-only”, and may be based on the abilities of the users.

[0051] In addition, the use of the statistics monitor aids in implementing additional aspects of the present invention. The statistics of each user are maintained based on the number of wins, loses and the different aspects of the games. Such statistics may be used to determine rankings for players worldwide based on their skilled play. Those rankings can also be employed in handicapping individual players in the above described tournament play.

[0052] Another aspect of the present invention is directed to a providing a spectator mode for the above pay-for-play and play-for-pay embodiments. With respect to the above example of a golf tournament, users in the spectator mode of the present invention would be analogous to the spectators in the gallery on the course viewing the tournament play. Such a spectator mode has several aspects that are described below.

[0053] In one such aspect, a user that practices the present invention in spectator mode would be like a ghost participant. Such a user would engage in the steps illustrated in FIG. 7, except that the user would not be engaging in game play. Instead, the spectator user would be viewing or monitoring the game through that user's game client. Depending on the particular setup of the game that the spectator user wishes to view, they may or may not be a need to verify payment, i.e. a particular game may be “free” for the spectator user to view. Additionally, the data sent between the spectator user and the game host would be different than that for the pay-for-play or play-for-pay aspects of the present invention discussed above. The exchanged data in the spectator mode would involve a view presented to the user and data related to the user's choice of what particular view that is chosen. Such views could be from the perspective of a player, a sideline spectator's view or a view of the scene from above, etc.

[0054] In another aspect of the spectator mode of the present invention, spectator users would be able to interact with each other. Thus, spectator users would be able to comment on the action in the game. Also, as discussed above, a spectator may or may not be required to make remunerations to view the game, depending on how that game is setup. Similarly, users in spectator mode can receive a reward based on their status as spectators. Such a reward can be similar to a “door prize” offered as incentives to users or can be based on selections made by the spectator users and the performances of the players in that particular game.

[0055] In some embodiments of the spectator mode, the spectator user may appear to other game players as an additional player, as a “ghosted” player or representation, or may not be visible by game players. Similarly, spectator users may or may not be visible to each other, and system allows for such perspectives to toggled on and off, depending on user's preferences. From the spectator user's perspective, the “action” in the game would be almost realtime and can allow the spectator user to feel a part of the action. Such a perspective can be achieved through presentation of rendering data to the spectator user or through video streaming of presentation data, the latter allowing a greater audience to view the proceedings of the game.

[0056] In a spectator mode, active monitoring can also be accomplished by facilitators of the system. Such monitoring can constitute refereeing or judging in the games or monitoring of appropriate behaviors by users in the games. Such a monitoring ability may be important for games where certain language or actions are forbidden and monitoring may be necessary to ensure compliance.

[0057] Preferably, the system operates through a network of servers at co-locations handing all transactions. Subsequent pay-for-play and/or play-for-pay games can easily be integrated into the existing transaction infrastructure. Alternatively, a single server can be utilized to handle all transactions.

[0058] In a most preferred embodiment, invention will be linked via a global computer network such as the internet or worldwide web, but other embodiments including LANs, WANs and Intranets, fulfill the spirit and scope of the present invention. Both game clients and game hosts will typically comprise any device that connects to the system via the internet or other IP transport methods and includes, but is not limited to, such devices as televisions, computers, hand-held devices, cellular phones, land based telephones, wireless electronic devices and any device which uses a transport medium. Non-limiting examples of a transport medium applicable for use in the present invention comprise any backbone or link such as an ATM link, FDDI link, satellite link, cable, cellular, twisted pair, fiber optic, broadcast wireless network, the internet, the worldwide web, local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), or any other kind of intranet environment such a standard Ethernet link. In such alternative cases, the constituent parts will communicate with the system using protocols appropriate to the network to which that client is attached. All such embodiments and equivalents thereof are intended to be within the scope of the present invention.

[0059] Although the embodiments of the present invention have been described in detail, it will be understood that the present invention is not limited to the above-described embodiments, and various modifications in design may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention defined in claims.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification463/25
International ClassificationH04L12/16, G07F17/32, G06Q20/00, A63F13/10, A63F13/12
Cooperative ClassificationA63F2300/401, A63F2300/532, G07F17/3262, G07F17/32, A63F13/10, A63F13/12, G06Q20/06, A63F2300/535, A63F2300/513, G07F17/3276, A63F2300/50
European ClassificationG07F17/32, G06Q20/06, G07F17/32M8D, G07F17/32M2, A63F13/10, A63F13/12
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
May 31, 2001ASAssignment
Owner name: CYOP SYSTEMS, INC. (BARBADOS), BARBADOS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:WHITE, STEPHEN M.;PETERSON, RANDALL S. E.;REEL/FRAME:011928/0341
Effective date: 20010529