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Publication numberUS20020105144 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 09/780,021
Publication dateAug 8, 2002
Filing dateFeb 8, 2001
Priority dateFeb 8, 2001
Publication number09780021, 780021, US 2002/0105144 A1, US 2002/105144 A1, US 20020105144 A1, US 20020105144A1, US 2002105144 A1, US 2002105144A1, US-A1-20020105144, US-A1-2002105144, US2002/0105144A1, US2002/105144A1, US20020105144 A1, US20020105144A1, US2002105144 A1, US2002105144A1
InventorsRichard Tait, W. Alexander, Andrew Forrest, Alan Pruzan, Michael Adams
Original AssigneeTait Richard J., Alexander W. Whitney, Forrest Andrew R., Pruzan Alan J., Adams Michael Robert
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Game device and method
US 20020105144 A1
Abstract
A game device (10) includes a housing (12) mounted on a base (14). The housing (12) includes a stack (30) of activity cards (28). The activity cards are individually dispensed from a dispenser assembly (25). Each activity card includes a set of instructions (138) instructing the player to carry out a game activity. The activity card also includes a uniform resource locator address and instructions (140) for the user to access an interactive computer network to obtain further information and data to enable the user to complete the activity.
Images(27)
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Claims(45)
The embodiments of the invention in which an exclusive property or privilege is claimed are defined as follows:
1. A game comprising:
a dispenser;
a plurality of activity cards disposed in the dispenser, each activity card being marked with a first set of instructions describing an activity to be completed by a player, and a source locator address accessible by the player over an interactive computer network to obtain a second set of instructions or data to facilitate the player's furtherance or completion of the activity.
2. The game of claim 1, wherein the activity cards comprise flexible paper sheets.
3. The game of claim 1, wherein the first set of instructions are printed on a first side of each activity card, further comprising data printed on a second side of each activity card.
4. The game of claim 3, wherein the data printed on the second side of the activity card comprises invitational data that invites the data to dispense the activity card and commence game play.
5. The game of claim 3, wherein the data printed on the second side of the activity card comprises factual information that relates to the activity described by the first set of instructions on the first side of the card.
6. The game of claim 1, wherein the dispenser defines a slot through which the activity cards are dispensed on an individual basis.
7. The game of claim 6, further comprising a spring loaded platform mounted within the dispenser that biases the activity cards toward the slot.
8. The game of claim 1, further comprising at least one activity implement, wherein the dispenser further defines a first reservoir for receiving the at least one activity implement, the activity implement being usable by the user to carry out at least some of the activities described on the activity cards.
9. The game of claim 8, wherein the activity implement comprises a molding compound.
10. The game of claim 8, wherein the activity implement comprises a plurality of die.
11. The game of claim 10, wherein each dice is marked with lettering.
12. The game of claim 1, wherein the plurality of activity cards each include a first side and a second side, further comprising a gum adhesive strip applied to a portion of one side of each card, the cards being assembled in a stack with the adhesive strip of each card being detachably adhered to an adjacent card, the cards being separable by peeling the cards apart to detach the adhesive without damage to the cards.
13. The game of claim 12, in which the adhesive strips of adjacent cards are disposed on opposite sides of the cards relative to each other, such that the stack of cards forms a detachably adhered Z-fold stack.
14. The game of claim 1, wherein the first set of instructions of at least some of the activity cards require the use of desktop implements.
15. The game of claim 1, further comprising a desktop implement holder assembled with the dispenser.
16. The game of claim 15, wherein the implement holder comprises a resilient elastomeric memory foam.
17. The game of claim 1, further comprising a base on which the dispenser may be selectively placed and which supports the dispenser.
18. The game of claim 17, wherein the base includes a desktop implement holder for receiving desktop implements.
19. The game of claim 17, wherein the base includes a clip adapted for receiving and displaying photographs.
20. The game of claim 1, wherein the second set of instructions obtained at the source locator address invites the player to participate in an extended or further game activity that occurs over the interactive computer network.
21. The game of claim 20, wherein the extended or further game activity progresses over a predetermined period of time, and results in a message conveying an update as to game status being sent by electronic mail to an interactive network access device that is accessible by the player.
22. A game, comprising:
a housing defining a dispenser; and
a plurality of activity cards disposed in the dispenser, each activity card being marked with invitational information and with a set of instructions describing an activity to be completed by a player, the activity varying for each card, a first one of the activity cards projecting from the dispenser so as to display the invitational information marked thereon to induce a player to remove the first activity cards to review the set of instructions marked thereon, removal of the first activity card automatically advancing a second one of the activity card to display the invitational information marked thereon.
23. The game of claim 22, wherein the dispenser defines a slot through which the activity cards are dispensed on an individual basis.
24. The game of claim 23, further comprising a spring loaded platform mounted within the dispenser that biases the activity cards toward the slot.
25. The game of claim 22, further comprising an activity implement, stored in the receptacle of the housing, and manipulable by the user to carry out at least some of the activities described on the plurality of activity cards.
26. The game of claim 25, wherein the activity implement comprises a molding compound.
27. The game of claim 25, wherein the activity implement comprises a plurality of die.
28. The game of claim 27, wherein each dice is marked with lettering.
29. The game of claim 22, wherein the plurality of activity cards each include a first side and a second side, further comprising a gum adhesive strip applied to a portion of one side of each card, the cards being assembled in a stack with the adhesive strip of each card being detachably adhered to an adjacent card, the cards being separable by peeling the cards apart to detach the adhesive without damage to the cards.
30. The game of claim 29, in which the adhesive strips of adjacent cards are disposed on opposite sides of the cards relative to each other, such that the stack of cards forms a detachably adhered Z-fold stack.
31. A game system playable by a user who accesses an interactive computer network via a network access device, comprising:
a plurality of activity cards, each activity card being marked with a first set of instructions describing an activity to be completed by a player and a source locator address accessible by the player using the network access device over the interactive computer network to obtain a second set of instructions or data to facilitate the player's furtherance or completion of the activity; and
a network server that serves up data including the second set of instructions over the interactive computer network to the source locator address for access by the player.
32. The game system of claim 31, wherein the data served up by the network server includes an invitation to the player to participate in an on-line game activity that occurs over a predetermined period of time, the network server providing progress updates on the on-line game to the player over the interactive computer network to the player's network access device.
33. A game comprising:
a plurality of activity cards, each activity card having a first side and a second side, and at least one side of each card being marked with game information, the game information marked on each card being different from the game information marked on at least a majority of the other cards;
a gum adhesive strip applied to a portion of one side of each card, the cards being assembled in a stack with the adhesive strip of each card being detachably adhered to an adjacent card, adjacent cards being separable by peeling the cards apart to detach the adhesive strip without damage to the cards.
34. The game of claim 33, in which the adhesive strips of adjacent cards are disposed on opposite sides of the cards relative to each other, such that the stack of cards forms a detachably adhered Z-fold stack.
35. The game of claim 33, wherein the game information marked on the first side of each card comprises factual data.
36. The game of claim 35, wherein the game information marked on the first side of each game activity card includes invitational information inviting a player to access the card.
37. The game of claim 33, wherein the game information is marked on a second side of each card and includes instructions for carrying out an activity.
38. The game of claim 37, wherein the second side of each card is also marked with a source locator address accessible by the player over an interactive computer network to obtain a second set of instructions or data to facilitate the player's completion of the activity.
39. A game comprising:
a display media for presenting one of a plurality of instruction sets to a game player, each instruction set describing an activity to be completed by a player, the instruction set also including a source locator address accessible by the player over an interactive computer network to obtain a second set of instructions or data to facilitate the player's furtherance or completion of the activity; and
means for controlling the display media to dispense an instruction set to a player.
40. The game of claim 39, wherein the display media comprises a plurality of activity cards, and the plurality of instruction sets are printed on the activity cards, and wherein the means for controlling comprises a dispenser assembly activated by a player.
41. The game of claim 39, wherein the display media is, electronic and the means for controlling includes a processor for controlling the display media and a port for receiving data to be displayed on the display media.
42. A game comprising:
a housing;
an electronic display in the housing for displaying one of a plurality of sets of instructions, each instruction set describing an activity to be completed by a player, and a source locator address accessible by the player over an interactive computer network to obtain a second set of instructions or data to facilitate the player's furtherance or completion of the activity;
a controller for controlling the display; and
a port for providing data to the controller and the display to generate the instruction sets.
43. A method of playing a game comprising:
providing a first set of instructions to a player, the first set of instructions describing an activity to be completed by a player;
providing a source locator address accessible by the player over an interactive computer network to obtain a second set of instructions or data to facilitate the player's furtherance or completion of the activity; and
providing the second set of instructions or data to the interactive computer network source locator address to be accessed by the player.
44. The method of claim 43, wherein the first set of instructions are provided on an activity card, further comprising dispensing one of a plurality of activity cards, each including a corresponding set of instructions.
45. The method of claim 43, further comprising providing a selected one of a plurality of sets of instructions for activities, each instruction set being displayed on an electronic display.
Description
    FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • [0001]
    The present invention relates to games, and particularly to multiple activity games that occur using physical structure and computer networks.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    Individuals of all ages and backgrounds typically enjoy the intellectual stimulation, and distraction from everyday stress, provided by games. This is not only the case for children, but also for office-bound adults, students and others who may benefit from periodic mental breaks in their workday activities. It is not unusual to find small entertainment devices, such as puzzles, on desktops for this purpose. However, the variety of entertaining activities that can be carried out with such game devices is limited and becomes repetitive over time. Additionally, individuals may not feel particularly adept at certain activities, such as solving manipulative puzzles, and therefore may find such activities stressful rather than relaxing and enjoyable.
  • [0003]
    Over the years, a variety of parlor games have been developed that entertain both children and adults of all ages. The play methodology of such games can be quite complex and entertaining, yet is not suitable for use in an office environment, or in taking a break from chores in a residential environment, due to the time commitment required to play such games.
  • [0004]
    One relatively recent entry into the field of commercially available games is a multiple activity game sold under the trademark CRANIUM™, by Cranium Inc. of Seattle, Wash. This game is described in pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/135,383 filed Aug. 17, 1998, in the name of R. Tait and W. Alexander, the disclosure of which is hereby expressly incorporated by reference. This game utilizes a variety of activities that appeal to and challenge individuals possessing different cognitive skills and abilities. Specifically, the game includes a plurality of activity cards that challenge players: knowledge of facts, trivia and logic; by drawing on their creative expression abilities such as in drawing or molding a modeling compound; ability to render performances and carry out deeds and actions, such as singing or role playing; or ability to solve word puzzles and scrambles. By providing this broad variety of activities, virtually every player will have an activity at which they feel they can excel, making the experience positive for all players, at the same time challenging them in very differing ways. While this game has been highly successful, its play is more complex and time consuming than may be suitable for use during a brief break in the activities of an office worker, a student, or an individual working at home.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0005]
    The present invention provides a game that includes a dispenser and a plurality of activity cards that are disposed in and dispensed from the dispenser. Each activity card is marked with a first set of instructions describing an activity to be completed by a player. The activity card is also marked with a source locator address, such as a Web site uniform resource locator address, that is accessible by the user over an interactive computer network, such as the Internet, to obtain a second set of instructions or data to facilitate the player's completion or furtherance of the activity.
  • [0006]
    In a further aspect of the present invention, a game is provided that includes a housing defining a dispenser and a receptacle. A plurality of activity cards are disposed in and dispensed from the dispenser. Each activity card is marked with a first set of instructions describing an activity to be completed by a player. The game also includes an activity implement, stored in the receptacle, and usable by the user to carry out at least some of the activities.
  • [0007]
    The present invention also provides the game system playable by a user who accesses an interactive computer network, such as the Internet, via a network access device. The system includes a plurality of activity cards, each marked with a first set of instructions describing an activity to be completed by a player and also being marked with a source locator address accessible by the player over an interactive computer network to obtain a second set of instructions or data to facilitate the player's completion of the activity. The system includes a network server that serves up data to the source locator address over the interactive computer network. This data includes a second set of instructions or, information that is accessed by the player, using the source locator address provided on the activity card, to complete the activity.
  • [0008]
    In a still further aspect of the present invention, a game is provided that includes a plurality of activity cards. Each card has a first side and a second side. At least one side of each card is marked with game information. The game information marked on the plurality of cards is different for each card. The activity cards each also include a gum adhesive strip, applied to a portion of one side of each card. The cards are assembled in a stack, with the adhesive strip at each card being detachably adhered to an adjacent card in the stack. A thusly adhered card can be selectively removed from the stack by peeling the cards apart, without damage to the cards.
  • [0009]
    The present invention also provides methods of game play in accordance with each of the aspects of the invention set forth above, and methods and apparatus for providing the activity instructions described above via electronic media.
  • [0010]
    The present invention thus provides a game that is suitably configured for use on a desktop to provide an entertaining and intellectually stimulating break in a player's day. In a preferred embodiment, the game includes a housing that incorporates the dispenser for receiving a selectively adhered stack or pad of game activity cards. The game play cards are presented by the dispenser, on a one at a time basis, and may be pulled by a user to be individually dispensed from the dispenser. Each activity card in a preferred embodiment includes invitational data, that draws the user to the game play card, factual data that educates the player and that encourages them to undertake an activity described in instructions printed on the card. The instructions present a mental and/or physical challenge to the player, and may require the player to utilize one or more of a variety of mental and physical abilities represented by the plurality of activity cards. For example, the abilities may be the use of factual trivia and logic, the use of creative expression, carrying out a performance, deed or action, or solving a word puzzle. The card also includes an Internet URL Web site locator that links the game to further information and activities accessible over the Internet. The user is directed to the Web site by accessing the URL address, whereupon the user may obtain further information or instructions that assist the user in solving or completing the activity. The Web site also directs the user to partake in further or extended games that are carried out online over the Internet.
  • [0011]
    The game activities are suitable selected and designed to encourage face to face interaction between players and other individuals, such as office coworkers. Sometimes this interaction is obtained through activities that expressly require the input of multiple players. Others, such as trivia activities, are designed with a predetermined level of difficulty such that one person's knowledge is typically insufficient to complete, so that other individuals are consulted.
  • [0012]
    In a preferred embodiment, the housing also includes implements that may assist the user in carrying out the activities set forth in the cards. For example, the housing may include a reservoir for retention of a molding compound that can be manipulated to perform an activity, or for stress relief, and may also include a second reservoir that includes a plurality of dice, each die marked with letters and/or words to enable the user to compose sentences, spell words, or build structures. The housing may also include useful structure for an office environment, such as an implement holder that receives pens and pencils, or that receives a clip for display of photos.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0013]
    The foregoing aspects and many of the attendant advantages of this invention will become more readily appreciated as the same become better understood by reference to the following detailed description, when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:
  • [0014]
    [0014]FIG. 1 provides a perspective view of a first embodiment of a game device constructed in accordance with the present invention;
  • [0015]
    [0015]FIG. 2 provides a perspective view of the housing of the game device of FIG. 1, elevated above the base on which it is supported;
  • [0016]
    [0016]FIGS. 3 through 5 illustrate front, side and rear elevation views of the game device of FIG. 1;
  • [0017]
    [0017]FIG. 6 provides an exploded view of the device of FIG. 1;
  • [0018]
    [0018]FIG. 7 provides an exploded view of a dispenser mechanism of the device of FIG. 1;
  • [0019]
    [0019]FIGS. 8A and 8B provide a cross-sectional view of the closed dispenser mechanism and of the dispenser mechanism open to receive a pad of activity cards, respectively;
  • [0020]
    [0020]FIG. 9 provides an alternate embodiment of a game device constructed in accordance with the present invention utilizing electronic media;
  • [0021]
    [0021]FIGS. 10A and 10B provide representative views of the front and back sides of an activity card for use in the present invention;
  • [0022]
    [0022]FIG. 11 provides an illustration of representative indicia to be marked on one of the die suitable for use in the present invention;
  • [0023]
    [0023]FIG. 12 provides a representative illustration of the back side of an exemplary activity card for use in the present invention;
  • [0024]
    [0024]FIGS. 13 through 24 provide representative illustrations of the front sides of exemplary activity cards useful in the present invention and illustrating a variety of activities that may be suitably carried out in accordance with the invention;
  • [0025]
    [0025]FIG. 25 provides a representative video screen display served up to a Web site and accessible over the Internet for an on-line component of the present invention;
  • [0026]
    [0026]FIG. 26 provides a representative view of a portion of the Internet as may be utilized in an on-line component of the present invention; and
  • [0027]
    [0027]FIG. 27 provides a representative illustration of a server interfacing with the Internet in accordance with the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
  • [0028]
    The present invention provides a game device 10 including a vessel or housing 12 that is removably supported on a base 14, as shown in FIGS. 1-5. Referencing FIG. 5, the housing 12 is constructed from an upper housing 16 that is selectively secured to a lower housing ring 18, with a gasket member 20 secured therebetween. A lower housing 21 is selectively securable to an opposite side of the housing ring 18. The housing 12 further includes a reservoir 22 formed in the upper housing 16, that may be selectively closed by a pliable lid 24 that is hingedly attached to the gasket 20. The activity card dispenser assembly 25 (FIGS. 6 through 8) is housed within the upper housing 16, and carries a plurality of activity cards 28 assembled in a pad or stack 30 of activity cards. Finally, the housing 12 further contains a molding compound 32 that is receivable within the reservoir 22, and a plurality of die 34 that are received within the lower housing 21.
  • A. Game Structure
  • [0029]
    Before discussing the content included on the activity cards 28 and the game play methods, each structure included within the game device 10 will first be described. Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the base 14 includes a pedestal 40 that has an overall disk shape configuration. A stem 42 extends upwardly and centrally from one radial side of the pedestal 40, terminating at an elevation above the pedestal 40, on an opposing side of the pedestal 40. The stem 42 then extends to form an annular ring 44 defining a central aperture 46 and a seat 48, at the junction of the ring 44 and the stem 42. The ring 44 has a generally circular configuration, and is tilted such that a plane defined by the ring 44 has a vertical component and a primarily horizontal component. One side of the ring 44 is extended, such that the outer perimeter of the ring has an ovoid shape.
  • [0030]
    An arcuate slot 50 is defined within this ovoid extension of the ring 44. This slot 50 has a purpose of receiving desktop implements, such as pens, pencils, letter openers and the like. The slot 50 is preferably bordered on radial inner and outer edges thereof by a resilient and compressible elastomer lining 52. The elastomer lining 52 is suitably a resilient, foamed elastomer with a limited degree of resiliency, referred to as a memory foam. A slot is defined between opposing edges of the lining 52, and is configured in undulating fashion to define enlarged portions through which implements of various sizes can be inserted. Additionally, a spring wire clip 54 may be inserted into the slot 54, retained in place by the lining 52. The clip 54 accepts photographs or other items to be displayed. The upper surface of the pedestal 40 defines a dish-shaped recess into which small items, such as paper clips, may be placed.
  • [0031]
    The housing 12 has an overall spherical configuration when completely assembled. The lower housing 21 has a generally semi-spherical configuration, but may be flattened and/or grooved (not shown) on a lower surface thereof to enable the lower housing 21 to securely and removably seat within the central aperture 46 of the base 14. In particular, the lower housing 21 may be contoured in a region corresponding to a contour defined in saddle 48 of the base 14, to assure proper orientation of the housing 12 within the base 14. This contour will also suitably permit the housing 12 to sit flat on a table top or other surface when removed from the base 14.
  • [0032]
    The housing ring 18 has a flat bottom (not shown) and an annular flange surrounding the bottom. The housing ring 18 and the lower housing 21 may be secured together in selective locking engagement. To this end, the housing ring 18 defines a plurality of cam slots 60 that engage a plurality of pins 62 included on the perimeter of the lower housing 21. Lower housing 21 can be slid onto the housing ring 18 and then rotated, to engage the pins 62 in the slots 60.
  • [0033]
    The plurality of die 34 are received within the lower housing 21, between the lower housing 21 and the housing ring 18. An opposite side of the housing ring 18 includes a plurality of catches 64 projecting upwardly therefrom. The terms upper and lower are defined in reference to the illustrated positioning of the housing 12, but it should be apparent that the device is operable in various other dispositions. The catches 64 are received within and engage mating latch recesses defined in an interior of the upper housing 16. The housing ring 18 can thus be snapped onto the upper housing 16. The upper housing 16 and housing ring 18 are thusly held securely together. The housing ring 18 is tensioned away from the upper housing 16, to retain this attachment without loose movement therebetween, due to the gasket 20. The gasket 20 is preferably formed from an elastomeric material, and has an annular configuration. The gasket 20 is captured between a lower perimeter 66 of the upper housing 16, and a lip 68 defined around the lower edge of the housing ring 18.
  • [0034]
    The upper housing 16 has a generally semi-spherical configuration. However, a flattened region 70 is defined on an upper surface of the upper housing 16, and accepts the reservoir 22 therewithin. Alternatively, the reservoir 22 and the upper housing 16 may be integrally formed. The molding compound 32, such as clay or putty, is suitably placed within the reservoir 22, and substantially fills the reservoir 22.
  • [0035]
    The lid 24 is hingedly connected by an integral elastomeric hinge 74 to the gasket ring 20. The lid 24 snaps into place onto the upper housing 16, over an upper edge of the reservoir 22. The lid 24 is preferably also formed from an elastomeric material, and thus can be depressed by the user, to deform the molding compound 32 thereunder, providing both a distraction and an outlet for stress relief. The lid 24 suitably includes a tab 76 projecting from an edge thereof, which may be lifted by a user to selectively remove the lid 24 from the reservoir 22, permitting access to the molding compound 32. Similarly, the lower housing 20 can be twisted relative to the housing 18, to remove the lower housing 20 from the housing 12, to permit access to the die 34 therewithin.
  • [0036]
    While this multi-part construction has been described, it should be readily apparent that alternate constructions can be utilized. Thus, a one-piece housing, including a hinged lid and lower housing, could be formed. Likewise, the present invention is not restricted to the shape and physical configuration illustrated in FIGS. 1 through 5. Thus while a spherical housing supported on a separate base has been illustrated, a housing that has an alternate configuration, such as a cube or other shape could be utilized, and may rest on a separate base or may have an integral base.
  • [0037]
    The dispenser assembly 25 will now be further described with reference to FIGS. 6, 7, 8A and 8B. FIG. 7 provides an exploded view of one suitable mechanism for construction and mounting of the dispenser assembly 25. As illustrated therein, the upper housing 16 may be suitably constructed with internal braces 80. A gap between braces 80 is formed in a front side of the upper housing 16. A transverse slot 82 is formed across the front side of the upper housing 16 in this region.
  • [0038]
    A dispenser channel 84 includes a transverse channel having an outer rim 86 and a set of supporting braces 88 depending downwardly from the channel 84. The dispenser channel 84 is inserted into the upper housing 16, with the rim 86 snapping into the slot 82 defined in the upper housing 16. The dispenser channel 84 defines a path through which individual activity cards 28 may be dispensed.
  • [0039]
    The dispenser assembly 25 further includes a pivotal platform 90 that is mounted within the interior of the upper housing 16. The pivotal platform 90 includes left and right posts 92 that project laterally from an upper end thereof, and which are received within corresponding apertures 94 defined in braces 80 of the upper housing 16. The platform 90 includes a floor 94. A pair of latches 96 are formed on a forward edge of the floor 94. The platform 90 is mounted to pivot within the upper housing 16, between a forward most position as illustrated in FIG. 8A in which the latches 96 engage with corresponding catches 98 defined in the braces 88 of the channel 84, and an open rearward position as illustrated in phantom in FIG. 8B.
  • [0040]
    The platform 90 also carries a pivotal support 100 that includes left and right pins 102, which are received pivotally within apertures 104 defined in an upper end of the platform 90. This support 100 is able to pivot forwardly and rearwardly relative to the platform 90. Two springs 106 are disposed between the rear side of the support 100 and the front side of the platform 90, to bias the support 100 forwardly away from the platform 90. The support 100 includes a forward contact surface 110.
  • [0041]
    Still referencing FIGS. 8A and 8B, a stack 30 or pad of activity cards 28 is received within the interior of the dispenser assembly 25 and upper housing 16. The stack 30 is disposed between the interior surfaces of the braces 80 and braces 88 on the forward side, and the forward contact surface 110 of the support 100 on the back side thereof. The stack 30 includes a plurality of individual activity cards 28 that are detachably adhered together with a gum adhesive in a manner that shall be further described subsequently. The stack 30 is inserted into the upper housing 16 in the manner shown in FIG. 8B.
  • [0042]
    For installation, the platform 90 is opened, and a free end of the forwardmost activity card 28 is threaded through the dispenser channel 84, to project externally of the upper housing 16. The stack 30 is then inserted into the cavity of the upper housing 16, between the upper housing 16 and the dispenser assembly 25. The support 100, biased by the springs 106, presses the stack forwardly against the dispenser channel 84. The platform 90 can then be moved forwardly and snapped into place, as shown in FIG. 8A, to retain the activity card stack 30 in place for use and dispensing. When the activity card stack 30 has been used up, this procedure can be reversed to install a new activity card stack or pad.
  • [0043]
    While a particular dispenser assembly 25 has been illustrated above, it should be readily apparent that numerous other dispenser mechanisms may be utilized in accordance with the present invention. Thus rather than using a multi-part dispenser assembly 25, the dispensing channel 84 may be integrally formed with the upper housing 16, and a one-part platform with integral resilient spring member could be utilized to assist feeding of the activity cards 28 through the slot.
  • [0044]
    Attention is now directed to FIG. 8B and to FIGS. 10A and 10B to further describe the construction of the stack 30 of activity cards 28. The term “activity card” as used herein refers to a sheet, or segment of a larger sheet or strip, of flexible media, which may be paperboard, cardboard, paper, plastic film, or other thin flexible material. Each activity card 28, as illustrated in FIGS. 10A and 10B, includes a front side 112 and a back side 114. The content or information that is printed on the cards 28 will be described further hereinbelow. However, at this point it is noted that one side of the activity card (suitably the back side 114) includes a strip of gum or tacky adhesive 116. The adhesive strip 116 has a nature such that it is firmly adhered to the back side 114 of the card, and can be pressed or contacted against an adjacent card to detachably adhere the two cards together. By pulling two adjacent cards apart, the bond formed by the adhesive strip 116 is readily separated, with the adhesive strip 116 being retained on the back side 114 of the card 28 and separating cleanly, without damage, to the opposing adjacent card.
  • [0045]
    Referencing FIG. 8B, the activity cards 28 are stacked to form a pad that is detachably adhered together using adhesive strips 116, in a Z-fold configuration. Thus the stack 30 includes a plurality of cards 28, each of which has a back side that faces rearwardly within the dispenser assembly 25. The cards are alternated in orientation such that on a first card, the adhesive strip 116 is on the top edge of the back side of the card, and on the next adjacent card the adhesive strip 116 is on a bottom edge of the back side thereof, and vice versa. This results in the “Z” fold selective adhesion of the cards together.
  • [0046]
    To dispense the cards, the projecting end of the first activity card 28 that has been fed through the dispensing channel 84 is pulled, which results in the adhered end of the underlying activity card 28 being pulled out with the first card, the first card then detaching from the second card, leaving the free end of the second card 28 threaded through the channel 84 projecting externally of the upper housing 16. The cards can thus be dispensed on a one-by-one basis, with each card threading the next adjacent card through the channel 84 and presenting the exterior edge thereof for subsequent removal.
  • [0047]
    While this arrangement of a card stack 30 and dispenser assembly 25 have been described, it should be understood that many other arrangements for dispensing activity cards or flexible media on which information is printed or formed are also within the scope of the present invention. Thus rather than using Z-folded activity cards, individual activity cards that are each folded in a V-shaped configuration, and then adhered together such that a V series of selectively adhered cards results, is also within the scope of the present invention. Further, rather than using individually adhered cards, a stack of cards that are not adhered together, but rather rest on a platform, may be utilized. In this event, a rubberized wheel or gripper would be included within the upper housing and biased against an upper card in the stack. The wheel rotates with the upper card as the upper card is removed, and then contacts the second card to commence feeding of the second card. The platform on which the cards rest may be a vertical moving platform, rather than a pivotal platform, or may simply be a stationary receptacle. Rather than using cards that are adhered or loose, the cards may be formed in a continuous strip, with individual cards in the strip being separated by perforations. As the perforated strip is pulled from the dispenser, the perforations would be separated by ripping apart the cards with a light downward pull. Alternately a single strip of cards formed in a series, without perforations, may be employed, and a cutting edge formed on the edge of the channel 84 to rip off individual cards. These and numerous other variations of dispensers are included within the scope of the present invention.
  • [0048]
    A still further variation of the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 9. Rather than utilizing printed activity card media, device 120 utilizes electronic media to convey the information that would otherwise be on the activity cards. Thus the device 120 includes internal circuitry 122, which suitably includes a central processing unit and electronic memory. The device further includes an electronic display 124, such as an LCD display. One or more user input/output devices, such as buttons 126, are also included on the device 120. Finally, the device includes a data port 128 to receive electronic data. The data port 128 may be: a connector that receives electric or optic cable to connect the device 120 to a separate computer; a socket or drive that receives a cartridge containing data stored on a CD ROM disc, ROM chip, memory stick or other storage device; a modem port for connection through a telephone line to a computer system; or a receiver that receives data over a wireless link. Rather than dispensing individual cards, the instructions and other data that would appear in a card would instead be displayed on the display 124.
  • [0049]
    In one suitable embodiment, invitational information that prompts and encourages a user to play the game would be initially displayed on the display 124. A player would then depress one of the buttons 126 to cause further information including activity instructions to be displayed, and commence game play. The display 124 is controlled by the circuitry including CPU. The data and other information that is displayed is provided through the port 128 in one of the aforementioned manners, and can be updated by changing cartridges, wireless updating, etc.
  • [0050]
    Attention is redirected to FIG. 6 to explain ancillary implements that are included within the device 10 for game play. As noted previously, the device 10 includes a reservoir 22 that receives molding compound 32, such as clay or putty. The pliable lid 24 can be depressed to mold the molding compound 32 therebelow, for stress relief. Additionally, the lid 24 can be opened and the clay and the molding compound 32 removed to form shapes in accordance with activity card instructions. The bottom housing 62 includes a plurality of die 34. Each dice 34 includes indicia, such as lettering and words, and further may be color coded. Individual faces of the dice may suitably be painted with different colors, or each dice itself may be colored differently than the other dice. The dice 34 can be used, in accordance with instructions on the playing cards, to build structures. Additionally the dice can be lined up to spell words using the letters that are on the face of the individual dice, or to build phrases using the words that are on the face of the individual dice. Attention is directed now to FIG. 11, which illustrates one representative example of the faces of an individual dice 34. Each die 34, in the illustrated embodiment, includes six faces. Each face is marked with a large upper case letter, used to spell words, and additionally with a word using that letter, to build phrases. The representative lettering and words are examples only, and of course infinite possibilities for combinations of letters and words exist. Other indicia, such as illustrations, may alternately be employed. In a preferred embodiment, a plurality of die, such as 12 or 16, are utilized. However, the number of die may vary in accordance with the present invention, or may be deleted altogether.
  • [0051]
    Other ancillary implements may also be employed, such as a paper pad (not shown), or calendar (not shown), which can be mounted on the base 14. Again, these implements, as well as normal desk top implements such as pens, pencils, paperclips, staples, etc., may be utilized in accordance with instructions on the activity cards to carry out activities.
  • B. Activity Card Content
  • [0052]
    Attention is now directed to FIGS. 10A and 10B to describe content included on the individual activity cards 28. As noted previously, each activity card 28 has first and seconds sides, and in the embodiment described herein, these shall be referred to as a front side 112 and a back side 114. The back side 114 includes the adhesive strip 116 along one edge thereof. The opposing edge of the back side 114 preferably includes invitational information 130, also referred to herein as “teaser text.” The invitational information 130 is suitably in the form of a short provocative headline, relating directing or tangentially to information appearing elsewhere on the activity card 28. The invitational information 130 is designed to grab the player's attention and induce or encourage the player to dispense the activity card 28 to commence game play. The back side 114 suitably also includes factual data 132 printed thereon. The factual data 132 is suitably a statement or quote containing interesting follow-up information that relates to the activity described elsewhere on the card. The factual information may also be tangentially or directly related to the invitational information. Other markings, such as illustrations 134, may also be included on the back side 114.
  • [0053]
    The front side 112 of the card suitably includes an activity name 136 printed thereon, which conveys information regarding the type of activity to which the card is directed. These types or categories of activities are preferably selected from differing types of cognitive mental or physical activities that draw on one of the varieties of strengths or intelligences of players. Preferably the activities are selected from multiple such activities, and suitably are designed to provide at least some activities at which each user or player will excel. Such activities are more fully described in co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/135,383 filed Aug. 17, 1998, in the name of R. Tait and W. Alexander, the disclosure of which has been expressly incorporated by reference herein.
  • [0054]
    The activity name 136 clues the player into the type of activity that will then follow in accordance with instructions set forth in activity content 138 also printed on the front side 112 of the activity card. The activity content may take the form of text, graphics, images, etc., . The activity may include a puzzle, a word challenge, a trivia or knowledge-based challenge, a logic challenge, the use of creative expression, the carrying out of a performance, deed or action, or the solving of a word challenge, by way of example. Various activity types which may be suitably described in the instructions set forth in the activity content 138 will be further described hereinbelow.
  • [0055]
    Finally, the front side 112 of the activity card also suitably includes on-line directional information 140, also referred to herein as a “shortcut.” The on-line directional information 140 includes instructions and a network source locator or address that directs the user to access information on an interactive network, such as the Internet, and more specifically the World Wide Web. The network resource locator suitably takes the form of a uniform resource locator (URL) address on the World Wide Web. The user is able to access the interactive network, through a network access device, such as a computer, cell phone, personal data system, or other web-capable devices such as a television, to obtain further information data or instructions that are served to a web site by a game operator entity. This information helps the player complete the activity described in the activity content 138, or enables the player to check an answer that has been obtained as a result of the activity, or encourages the player to expand game play, by way of example.
  • [0056]
    In a preferred embodiment, the on-line directional information 140 or shortcut includes instructions, the network resource locator, and a code word, unique to each activity card, that the user enters into an input field on the home page of a web site visited in accordance with the instructions. The code word included in the shortcut, when entered on the home page, grants the user access to another particular Web page, where the user can input an answer they have arrived at, obtain hints, download further information, or play a virtual version of the activity on-line. The shortcut or on-line directional information 140 thus consists suitably of three parts, a leader or instruction, a network source locator or URL, and a code word. The leader is explanatory text that advertises the shortcut destination. The shortcut code word is entered by the player when the Web site set forth in the resource locator address is accessed. The shortcut thus provides a Web site link, and induces a player to access an on-line analog of the game device, essentially serving as an onramp to the World Wide Web, to expand and complete game play.
  • [0057]
    The game play instructions and information contained on the activity cards 28 may best be understood by reviewing sample activity cards. Attention is thus directed to FIG. 12, which provides a representative back side 114 of an activity card 28. The teaser text 130 presented states “Live! From New York . . . ” This invitational information, printed bold and in a bright color, is exposed on the leading edge of the activity card 28 that projects from the dispenser, and can be readily viewed by a player. It invites the user to pull the activity card 28 to dispense the activity card 28. The activity card also includes a graphic 134, which relates generally to the type of activity that may occur on the opposite side of the card. The factual information 132 states a fact relating to the invitational information. The factual information 132 in this case states: “Fun Fact: The first performer to proclaim ‘Live, from New York, it's Saturday Night!’ was Chevy Chase, on Oct. 11, 1975.” This factual information is meant to be informative and entertaining, and is related to the invitational information.
  • [0058]
    [0058]FIG. 13 illustrates the opposing, front side 112 of the activity card 28 illustrated in FIG. 12. The activity name 136 set forth in this card is “Mix & Match.” The mix and match activity is a multiple part trivia matching challenge, that requires a player to match related words, numbers, phrases and/or images. The instructions explaining how to do the trivia match, and the trivia to be matched, are set forth in the activity content 138 also printed on the front side 112 of the card. On this particular card, quotes spoken by famous personalities are listed opposing the names of famous individuals, and the quotes need to be matched, such as by drawing lines (as illustrated), to the famous individuals that spoke the quotes. This activity, having to do with actors and actresses, relates generally to the content included on the opposite side of the card.
  • [0059]
    The front side 112 of the card illustrated in FIG. 13 is also marked with the on-line directional information 140, which includes the instruction “For answers, go to”, a resource locator address, in this case World Wide Web address “www.desktopdistraction.com”, and a shortcut code word and instruction “Use shortcut: ‘Chevy’”. In this instance, the user would use information and knowledge at hand to match quotes to individuals. If they are stuck on this matching, or wish to check their answers, they would follow the instructions in the on-line directional information 140 and access the Web site at the address provided. They would then select or click on a button or window in the Web site that corresponds to the mix and match activity, as shall be described further hereinbelow, and then enter the shortcut code word “Chevy” to receive the answers to the matching challenge.
  • [0060]
    Further examples of activities that can be carried out in accordance with the present invention, and represented by activity names 132, activity content 138 and on-line directional information 140, are set forth in FIGS. 14 through 24. These examples are meant to be illustrative only, and other types of game activity challenges, puzzles, etc., may be developed in accordance with the invention disclosed herein.
  • [0061]
    Attention is next directed to FIG. 14, which illustrates an activity card 28 that provides a visual puzzle, identified herein as a “Pict-o-quest”. A visual puzzle requires a player to identify, find or interpret objects in a picture. The objects may be blueprint-style views or cross-sections of common objects, extreme close-up photos of different objects, or objects depicted in a single cartoon as visual puns on objects names, titles, etc., by way of example. In the example illustrated, the puzzle provides visual clues to well known children's books, and the user is instructed to identify the titles of the children's books represented by the visual clues.
  • [0062]
    [0062]FIG. 15 illustrates the answer to this puzzle, in which the clues have been circled and the titles of the books have been entered onto the back side of the card. If the player requires assistance or wants to check his or her answer, the user is instructed in the on-line directional information to go to a Web site for answers to the puzzle, and to enter a shortcut code word Seuss. Again, the shortcut code word is a word that is related in some fashion to the subject matter of the activity or challenge.
  • [0063]
    [0063]FIG. 16 provides instructions for an activity identified as “Arcade”, which provides instructions to use readily available office supplies to carry out an activity. The user is instructed by the on-line directional information to access a Web site to receive instructions on further challenges or activities of like nature.
  • [0064]
    [0064]FIG. 17 illustrates a representative activity card 28 having an activity identified as “Build it”, which provides instructions to build a structure out of the implements included with the game device, such as the dice, and office supplies. Analogous to the arcade activity, the on-line directional information provides access to a Web site for related challenges and activities.
  • [0065]
    [0065]FIG. 18 provides information for an activity identified as “Cross Cubes”, which instructs the user to use the words on the dice to construct a simple crossword. Again, the on-line directional information instructs the user to access the Web site to receive other similar word construction challenges.
  • [0066]
    [0066]FIG. 19 provides an activity identified as “Mad Cap”, which sets forth a funny or provocative photograph, and instructs the user to write a creative humorous or personalized caption. The on-line directional information includes information enabling the user to access a Web site to play an on-line version of Mad Cap, in which users share captions they have created with other users.
  • [0067]
    [0067]FIG. 20 provides an activity identified as a personality test, in which a user is asked to enter the names of people known to them, such as co-workers or colleagues, who are viewed by the player to be most likely to do something in the future. The instructions are repeated such that the user can cut the activity card into multiple parts and share these with other workers. The workers are asked to compare perceptions of other people's personalities and traits, and complete a survey of their co-workers or colleagues' personality traits. Again the on-line directional information includes an invitation to go on-line to play a virtual version of the game.
  • [0068]
    [0068]FIG. 21 provides instructions for an activity identified as “Punch List”, which is a multiple-part trivia challenge in which the user is asked to complete a finite list of items within a given category. The user is directed to a Web site to receive answers to this challenge.
  • [0069]
    [0069]FIG. 22 illustrates the same card as illustrated in FIG. 21, with the answers to the Punch List challenge filled in.
  • [0070]
    [0070]FIG. 23 provides instructions for an activity identified as “Stunt Double”, in which the player is asked to perform a humorous or tricky physical stunt, such as typing the user's name on a keyboard with the user's nose. Players are encouraged via the on-line directional information to obtain instructions for similar stunts.
  • [0071]
    [0071]FIG. 24 provides instructions for an activity referred to as “Zelpuz”, in which a user is asked to unscramble letters or words to discover a humorous or entertaining word or phrase.
  • [0072]
    The activities described above generally fall into four categories. One of these categories is knowledge or factual-based activities, as represented by the Mix and Match, Pict-O-Quest and Punch List activities represented in FIGS. 13, 14 and 21. A second category is word-based activity, as represented by the Cross Cubes, Mad Cap and Zelpuz activities of FIGS. 18, 19 and 24. Other activities that may fall into this category and be suitably played using the present invention are activities in which a user is asked to create a specific word composition using any or all of the words on the dice, or in which a user is asked to translate an encrypted phrase, such as a popular phrase or title translated into synonyms, etc. (a Language Cipher Puzzle).
  • [0073]
    Another category of activities relate to creative performance, as represented by the Stunt Double and Personality Tests activities represented by FIGS. 20 and 23. A further example in this category is an activity to test a user's knowledge of popular music to uncover selected song lyrics to solve simple puzzles.
  • [0074]
    A final category of activities test a player's creative abilities, as represented by the Built It and Arcade activities of FIGS. 16 and 17. Other activities within this category that may be played using the game of the present invention are sculpting games, in which a player must sculpt a phrase with molding compound and display the resulting sculpture to others to get them to guess the subject matter sculpted, and drawing activities where a user is given simple, intriguing and thought-provoking drawing challenges.
  • [0075]
    The above activities are illustrative only, and are not exhaustive or intended to limit the invention.
  • C. On-Line Game Component
  • [0076]
    As described previously, the present invention invites and encourages users to complete or extend game play in an on-line environment over an interactive computer network. One suitable network is illustrated in FIGS. 26 and 27.
  • [0077]
    [0077]FIG. 26, FIG. 27 and the following discussion are intended to provide a description of a suitable computing environment in which the present invention may be implemented when the game is played over an interactive network, such as the Internet. As is well known to those skilled in the art, the term “Internet” refers to the collection of networks and routers that use the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (“TCP/IP”) to communicate with one another. A representative section 220 of the Internet 250 is shown in FIG. 26, in which a plurality of local area networks (“LANs”) 54 and a wide area network (“WAN”) 256 are interconnected by routers 252. The routers 252 are special purpose computers used to interface one LAN or WAN to another. Communication links within the LANs may be twisted wire pair, coaxial cable, wireless, optical cable or other links, while communication links between networks may utilize 56 Kbps analog telephone lines, 1 Mbps digital T-1 lines, 45 Mbps T-3 lines, optic cables, wireless links, or other communications links known to those skilled in the art. Furthermore, computers 238 or other related electronic devices capable of Internet access, such as cell phones or personal data assistants (PDA's), or Internet capable television sets, can be remotely connected to either the LANs 254 or the WAN 256 via a modem and temporary telephone link, wireless link, fiber optic link, etc. It will be appreciated that the Internet 250 comprises a vast number of such interconnected networks, computers, and routers and that only a small, representative section of the Internet 250 is shown in FIG. 26.
  • [0078]
    The Internet has recently seen explosive growth by virtue of its ability to link computers located throughout the world. As the Internet has grown, so has the web. As is appreciated by those skilled in the art, the web is a vast collection of interconnected or “hypertext” documents written in HyperText Markup Language (“HTML”), or other markup languages, that are electronically stored at “web sites” throughout the Internet. A web site is a server connected to the Internet that has mass storage facilities for storing hypertext documents and that runs administrative software for handling requests for those stored hypertext documents. A hypertext document normally includes a number of hyperlinks, i.e., highlighted portions of text which link the document to another hypertext document possibly stored at a web site elsewhere on the Internet. Each hyperlink is associated with an address, such as a Uniform Resource Locator (“URL”) or other resource locator that provides the exact location of the linked document on a server connected to the Internet and describes the document. Thus, whenever a hypertext document is retrieved from any web server, the document is considered to be retrieved from the web. As is known to those skilled in the art, a web server may also include facilities for storing and transmitting application programs, such as application programs written in the Java programming language from Sun Microsystems, for execution on a remote computer. Likewise, a web server may also include facilities for executing scripts and other application programs on the web server itself.
  • [0079]
    A player or other remote user may retrieve hypertext documents from the web via a web browser application program. A web browser, such as Netscape's Navigator or Microsoft's Internet Explorer, is a software application program for providing a graphical user interface to the web. Upon request from the player via the web browser, the web browser accesses and retrieves the desired hypertext document from the appropriate web server using the URL for the document and a protocol known as HyperText Transfer Protocol (“HTTP”). HTTP is a higher-level protocol then TCP/IP and is designed specifically for the requirements of the web. It is used on top of TCP/IP to transfer hypertext documents between servers and clients. The web browser may also retrieve application programs from the web server, such as Java applets, for execution on the client computer.
  • [0080]
    Referring now to FIG. 27, an illustrative operating environment for implementing aspects of the present invention will be described. A computer 260, or other Internet access device (such as a cell phone or PDA) connects to the Internet 250 through a modem, cable, wireless link, or other type of connection. Once connected to the Internet 250, the computer 260 may utilize a web browser to view and interact with web sites such as a web site provided by web server 262. As is known to those skilled in the art, the computer 260 may comprise a general purpose personal computer capable of executing a web browser.
  • [0081]
    Following the on-line information content of the activity card, the user thus accesses a Web site posted by the server 262. The Web site home page display 270 is illustrated in FIG. 25. FIG. 25 displays an interactive graphical user interface, including a variety of links or buttons that can be mouse-clicked or otherwise selected by a player for various game activities. This on-line component of the game is accessed via a Web browser installed on the user's Internet access device, and the home page 270 is the initial access point for the virtual game component. The home page display 270 suitably includes specific regions of fields.
  • [0082]
    The shortcut input region 272 enables the user to insert the shortcut code word from the on-line informational information 140, obtained from the activity card, in order to access answers to challenges, hints to solve challenges, or related information and activities. A shortcut code word may consist of a string of characters that are typed in by the user using an input/output device such as a keyboard, telephone key pad or stylus and text recognition pad. When a valid shortcut code is entered into this field 272, and a button 274 is selected, the corresponding page of an applicable activity site is accessed and opened. Other buttons 276 may be included to provide information on shortcuts and their use.
  • [0083]
    A second region provides information about the game operator entity, that hosts the game Web site. The game operator entity region 278 includes a variety of buttons 280 that may be selected by a player to receive data about the game operator, to enter data about the player, and to register or enroll for ancillary services.
  • [0084]
    A chronicle region 282 may contain other relevant and interesting information, such as news stories, headlines, and the like.
  • [0085]
    A gallery region 284 may provide information about representative games, may provide the solutions or outcomes of game activities that have been posted by individual viewers, such as captions written for humorous pictures using the Mad Cap activity and the like. Buttons in region 284 may access galleries of viewer posted information or editorial informational picks. Players may post information or date they have created during game play, by entering it within the gallery region or by e-mail.
  • [0086]
    A virtual game link region 286 allows the user to select buttons 288 that connect the user to pages in which extended play on-line games may be accessed, as will be discussed separately hereinbelow.
  • [0087]
    A meeting starter region 290 may be accessed by user to obtain information and data that may be downloaded by the player, providing instructions for activities that can be used by a group of players, such as the start of a meeting as an icebreaker. The meeting starter information that may be accessed by users may contain a variety of activities, essentially multiple activity cards, in print form. Instructions as to how to print the downloaded information are included, as well as instructions for solving the game activities.
  • [0088]
    Numerous other types of information, data, activities and features may be included on the Web site 270.
  • [0089]
    Through use of the game device 10, the user is encouraged to repeatedly visit the game operator's Web site. Thus, as individual activity cards are utilized by the viewer, the viewer may repeatedly visit the home page 270 and input shortcut code words into the region 272 to find the answer to puzzles, receive hints to solve puzzles, and receive instructions for related activities. Virtual or on-line versions of the games that are described in the activity cards may also be accessed. Users may also supply information and data that they have created through game play, such as personality test results, humorous captions for photographs, and the like, through the Web site 270. Alternately, users may submit such information via email to the game operator.
  • D. Extended Virtual Game Play
  • [0090]
    The game device 10 of the present invention may also serve as an onramp or invitation to extended on-line games, as noted above. Generally the extended on-line games are commenced by the user accessing a Web site, inputting data and receiving information in order to commence game play. As part of an initial registration process, players provide an email address at which they may receive electronic mail. After a first predetermined period of time following game commencement, status updates on the status of the game may be emailed to the player. The player may then view this information, and further participate in game play by entering or receiving additional information. Multiple players that are networked together may participate in the same extended game play.
  • [0091]
    Numerous possibilities of extended on line game play, in which users periodically receive e-mail status updates and invitations for extended play, may be envisioned. Several of these are described hereinbelow, and are extensions of activities described above, by way of illustration, and without limitation.
  • [0092]
    In a first version of an extended on-line game, referred to herein as “On-Line Punch List”, players are asked to test their factual knowledge, such as by being asked to name the most famous scary movie, the most famous individual reciting in New York, the most famous baseball player, etc. The player may provide an answer to each of multiple questions. For example, the player may be asked to give their answers to questions seeking the player to identify the most famous T.V. dad, baseball player and honeymoon destination. These answers are inputted into the online game Web site, or may be emailed to the game operator.
  • [0093]
    After a predetermined period of time, such as two or three days, the player will receive an email with information linking their answers to answers from other players enrolled in the same game. The player may be told the number of other players that agreed with their answers, and the number of players that agreed with other answers, identified or unidentified. The player is then given an opportunity to change one or more of his or her previous answers, and to resubmit these by again accessing the Web site or through email. At the end of a second predetermined period of time, such as one week after play commenced, scores rating the overall success of the player's answers are emailed to all players. Players are encouraged to download and print their mid-week results as well as end-week results, and to involve their friends and co-workers in game play. Each game survey is active for a period of approximately one week.
  • [0094]
    The second embodiment of on-line game is referenced herein as “On-Line Mad Cap”, is a quick, viral on-line experience where players compete to create the funniest captions for bizarre photographs they find at a site. An initiator of game play goes to the game operator's Web site home page, selects the On-Line Mad Cap game button, and then accesses the On-Line Mad Cap game page. The player then selects a picture and enters a funny caption for the picture. He then enters email addresses of a variety of friends that he wants to challenge to join in the game play.
  • [0095]
    These additional players then receive an email, click on a link to access a Web site, at which the picture, the initial caption and a text challenge are provided. The text challenge may provide the initiator's name, and then say that the initiator wants the recipient to join in the Mad Cap game, make up their own caption for the picture, enter it into a space or window and then click on a Web site link to view other captions. The player may receive a score for his or her entry, and every time another player joins, an email containing a link is sent back to all other previous players so they can view the further captions. This version of the on-line game, as well as that previously described, thus provides periodic distractions for a worker.
  • [0096]
    A third on-line game is referred to herein as “On-Line Personality Test”, and is a viral game played via email in which players are asked to each rate their preferences and guess what the other players will choose, particularly between seemingly arbitrary disparate elements or choices. For example, a player may be asked to choose whether they prefer coffee or art, dogs or beaches, etc. Each player rates his or her own preferences and then also predicts the preferences of other known players. The other players then receive the game in email, and rate their own preferences and predictions, without seeing the initial player's ratings. The players then receive the results of the other players' entries via email. Players can also customize the game by creating their own sets of questions to rank.
  • [0097]
    A still further version of an on-line game is referenced herein as “On-Line Talking Heads”. Game players access a Web site and choose a photographic image of one of a variety of celebrity faces. The player then tacks on a funny or incongruous body to the player's face, and then use the thusly created face and body to deliver a custom or preselected animated audio email message to their friends. These messages are then emailed to friends identified by the player. More specifically, a player may first choose a celebrity image, from a list of options, append the celebrity image onto, by way of example, a cartoon body, compose an email message, select a voice, add an interesting hat or wig, etc. Once this message is composed, text-to-voice software is utilized to create an audio output. The message is emailed to a friend, at an email address identified by the initial player. The friend receives the email, opens it and accesses the Web site link. The message composed by the initial player is then played, so that the player sees the animated image talking and receives the audio message, through a speaker, corresponding to the text entered by the first user. The animated figure may also dance or do other interesting maneuvers during game play.
  • [0098]
    Each of the above on-line games may be initially accessed through an activity card provided in the device 10 previously described.
  • [0099]
    While the preferred embodiment of the invention has been illustrated and described, it will be appreciated that various changes can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
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US7478110 *Jan 24, 2005Jan 13, 2009Microsoft CorporationGame-powered search engine
US7614955 *Mar 1, 2004Nov 10, 2009Microsoft CorporationMethod for online game matchmaking using play style information
US8204831 *Nov 13, 2006Jun 19, 2012International Business Machines CorporationPost-anonymous fuzzy comparisons without the use of pre-anonymization variants
US20050192097 *Mar 1, 2004Sep 1, 2005Farnham Shelly D.Method for online game matchmaking using play style information
US20060167874 *Jan 24, 2005Jul 27, 2006Microsoft CorporationGame-powered search engine
US20060286542 *Mar 10, 2006Dec 21, 2006Clay StevensEntertainment system and method useful for recruiting and training associates
US20080114991 *Nov 13, 2006May 15, 2008International Business Machines CorporationPost-anonymous fuzzy comparisons without the use of pre-anonymization variants
US20110060978 *Jul 21, 2010Mar 10, 2011Gross Roy DKit For Interactive Static And Online Learning
US20110060990 *Sep 9, 2009Mar 10, 2011Gross Roy DMethod and System for Storytelling
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Classifications
U.S. Classification273/292
International ClassificationA63F1/04
Cooperative ClassificationA63F1/04, A63F2001/0441, A63F2300/50
European ClassificationA63F1/04