FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to gaming devices and methods that use a player's image. In certain embodiments, the player may be provided with a prize that includes their image.
Gaming is a growing and highly competitive industry. Much effort is spent in developing new ways to attract and hold the attention of game players. Some efforts involve increasing the size and/or frequency of prizes that are awarded to players. Other efforts involve increasing the aesthetic appeal of gaming devices. Other attempts to attract game players involve creating new games and methods of game play, such as bonus games.
Some attempts have been made to utilize gaming devices adapted to take and/or use a player's image. U.S. publication number U.S. 2003/0022710 to DeMar et al. (hereinafter, DeMar) purports to suggest a gaming machine that may be used to provide a player with a souvenir of their gaming experience. According to DeMar, a player's picture may be taken at a gaming machine when a threshold event occurs. For example, the gaming device may take the player's photo when a jackpot above a certain value is obtained by the player. DeMar appears to suggest that the player may be provided with a photograph showing the player's reaction after the threshold event, perhaps with details of the event (such as the size of the jackpot). However, DeMar appears to suggest only providing pictures of the player, perhaps along with raw game data. It would be beneficial to provide a player that is more meaningful to the player in order to encourage game play on a particular machine.
Another gaming device using a camera to take a player's photo is purportedly described in U.S. publication number U.S. 2002/0196342 to Walker et al. (hereinafter, Walker). Walker purportedly describes apparatus and methods for providing a player with a scrapbook of their gaming experience. Walker discusses selling these scrapbooks in order to generate revenue, as well as serving advertising and marketing purposes. Walker apparently suggests obtaining images of a player through cameras located about a casino. Walker purports to suggest the possibility of modifying the photos to add and/or subtract images to or from the photograph. However, Walker does not appear to suggest using player images to encourage play at a particular gaming machine, or awarding a player a prize that includes an image of themselves.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,941,774 to Takemoto et al. (hereinafter, Takemoto) purports to suggest a gaming device which utilizes an image of a player during game play. Takemoto appears to suggest capturing a player's image and substituting the image for a game symbol. However, it appears that Takemoto only provides an image of the player during game play and does not utilize player images as prizes. In addition, player images do not appear to be specifically correlated to winning events.
A number of devices and methods are known for capturing and manipulating images of people. For example, Takemoto, Walker, and DeMar contain a discussion of such processes and the entire disclosures of these references are hereby expressly incorporated by reference in their entirety, as well as additional references cited therein. However, other photograph capture and manipulation devices can be found in fields other than gaming, such as self-service photo kiosks or booths. Photo kiosks are often found in amusement parks, shopping malls and other locations.
Photo kiosks have been around for many years and, although originally limited to fixed pictures with a set background, are now often capable of sophisticated photography and image manipulation. For example, the DIGIBOOTH (DIGIBOOTH is a trademark of Photo-Me International, Plc.) from Photo-Me International, Plc. of Bookham, UK allows players to superimpose their image onto pop star or celebrity backgrounds. The Photo-Me website, www.photo-me.co.uk, shows example of customers being able to superimpose their images with pop bands, cartoon characters, and MUPPETS (MUPPETS is a registered trademark of the Jim Henson Company). Similarly, Power Interactive Media of Richmond Hill, Canada, offers a FAMOUS FOTO KIOSK (FAMOUS FOTO KIOSK is a trademark of Power Interactive Media) where players can insert their image into background photos containing sports figures, movie stars, cartoon characters and other images. According to the Power Interactive Media website, www.powerphoto.net, the customer can insert their image into a background figure—such as inserting their face into a football player's uniform, as well as inserting their image alongside a sports figure (or other figure), such as THE ROCK (THE ROCK is a registered trademark of World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc.).
American Alpha, Inc. produces the FOTO MORPH (FOTO MORPH is a trademark of American Alpha, Inc.) photo kiosk that allows customers to alter their image by merging their image with another image, changing aspects of their appearance (such as their hairstyle), and placing their image in different context, such as costumes. Details of this system are provided in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,696,995 and 6,229,904 to Huang et al. Generally, methods of photographic manipulation are well known in the art and many devices and programs exist to capture and merge, or superimpose, two or more images.
Figures from entertainment and the arts are very popular in today's culture. For example, most people have a favorite movie, actor, actress, cartoon character, fictional character, or the like. Meeting a real life celebrity is often a treasured moment in a person's life. It has been recognized that gaming devices with celebrity or entertainment themes can be very successful at attracting and maintaining player interest. For example IGT currently markets a WHEEL OF FORTUNE (WHEEL OF FORTUNE is a registered trademark of Califon Productions, Inc.) slot machine based on the popular television game show. Bally markets PLAYBOY (PLAYBOY is a registered trademark of Playboy Enterprises International, Inc.) and SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE gaming machines, based on the magazine and television comedy, respectively. IGT also markets ELVIS (ELVIS is a registered trademark of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.) slot machines based on the iconic rock and roll star. To some degree the popularity of the entertainment/arts theme of the gaming device may translate into increased interest in the gaming device.
- SUMMARY OF ONE EMBODIMENT OF THE INVENTION
Advantages of One or More Embodiments of the Present Invention
However, many games based on popular arts and entertainment often have a very tenuous connection with the theme of the game. For example, the game many simply be a standard gaming device with a title and graphics related to the game theme. Other games may incorporate sound and/or video from the game theme into the game's play or presentation. All of these games are limited to awarding standard prizes, such as coins or vouchers. Once the player leaves the gaming device, he or she only has his or her memories of the game theme to remind him or her of his or her experience. It would be beneficial to provide a player with a prize or other souvenir related to the theme of the game in order to encourage players to play, and continue to play, the game until they obtain the prize or souvenir.
The various embodiments of the present invention may, but do not necessarily, achieve one or more of the following advantages:
- provide a gaming souvenir to a player
- provide a gaming souvenir related to a game theme to a player;
- incorporating a player's likeness into a souvenir related to a game theme;
- provide a gaming souvenir using a celebrity's image; and
- provide a game related souvenir as a game prize
- Brief Description of One Embodiment of the Present Invention
These and other advantages may be realized by reference to the remaining portions of the Specification, claims, and abstract.
In at least one embodiment, the present invention is directed to a gaming system that includes a gaming apparatus adapted to allow a player to place a wager and play a game of chance having a theme. The gaming system also includes an image capture device for capturing the player's image. The image processing unit is in communication with the image capture device and receives an image from the image capture device. The image processing unit is adapted to store at least one background image and to superimpose the player's image in the background image to form a composite image. The background image is related to the theme of the game of chance. The gaming system includes an output device adapted to present the player with the composite image.
In at least another embodiment, the present invention is directed to a gaming method. A player is allowed to place a wager and play a game of chance having a theme. The player's image is captured and superimposed on a background image to form a composite image. At least part of the background image is related to the theme of the game of chance. A game outcome is determined, which may comprise a first prize outcome. If the game outcome comprises the first prize outcome, the player is presented with a first prize comprising the composite image.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The above description sets forth, rather broadly, a summary of one embodiment of the present invention so that the detailed description that follows may be better understood and contributions of the present invention to the art may be better appreciated. Some of the embodiments of the present invention may not include all of the features or characteristics listed in the above summary. There are, of course, additional features of the invention that will be described below and will form the subject matter of claims. In this respect, before explaining at least one embodiment of the invention in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of the construction and to the arrangement of the components set forth in the following description or as illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced and carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology employed herein are for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting.
FIG. 1 is substantially a front elevational view of one embodiment of a gaming device of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is substantially a schematic diagram of components of a gaming device of the present invention.
FIG. 3 is substantially an illustration of a method of forming a composite image according to the present invention.
FIG. 4 is substantially a flowchart illustrating a gaming method according to the present invention.
DESCRIPTION OF AT LEAST ONE EMBODIMENT OF THE PRESENT INVENTION
FIG. 5 is substantially a schematic diagram of an embodiment of the present invention.
In the following detailed description of at least one embodiment of the invention, reference is made to the accompanying drawings, which form a part of this application. The drawings show, by way of illustration, specific embodiments in which the invention may be practiced. It is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized and structural changes may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention.
As seen in FIG. 1, the present invention may comprise a gaming apparatus, generally indicated by reference number 10. In at least one embodiment, gaming apparatus 10 comprises a prize display 12 and a gaming device 14. Gaming device 14 may be any of a large number of devices that are adapted to allow players to play a game, such as gaming devices typically found in arcade and casino environments, including arcade games, video games, gambling machines, video poker machines, slot machines, etc. In at least one embodiment, gaming device 14 is further adapted to allow a player to place a wager and play a game, such as a slot machine.
Gaming device 14 may include a value acceptor for accepting value from a player, such as a coin slot 16, a device 19 capable of reading and/or dispensing cashless devices. Gaming device 14 may also include a device 18 for accepting paper currency. In addition, a payout mechanism (not shown) and a coin receptacle 20 may be provided for awarding prizes or for dispensing value to players cashing out and retiring from a game. Cashless device dispenser/modifier 19 is provided to read, modify, and/or dispense cashless devices. Cashless device dispenser 19 may include a printer. A handle 22 and a button 24 may be provided for activating gaming device 14 to begin a game. A pay table (not shown) may further be provided to allow a player to see what symbol or combination of symbols provide a winning event. In certain embodiments, gaming device 14 may be an S Plus or S2000 model gaming device manufactured by International Game Technology in Reno, Nev.
Gaming device 14 may further include a gaming outcome display 28 that may be positioned so that a player (not shown) playing gaming device 14 can see the game outcome display 28. Game outcome display 28 may utilize physical game reels 30, 32, and 34. Game reels 30, 32, and 34 may be attached to a drive mechanism (not shown) of gaming device 14 to rotate the reels in a manner well known in the art. Each game reel 30, 32, and 34 may have a plurality of symbols (not shown) positioned on the circumference of each game reel 30, 32, and 34. Game reels 30, 32, and 34 may be positioned side-by-side with coincident axes of rotation and a portion of their individual circumferences facing outward from gaming device 14. In at least one embodiment, one or more symbols appearing on at least one of reels 30, 32, and 34 comprise indicia representing a good or merchandise prize that may be awarded in accordance with the present invention. For example, a vacation prize could be represented by a picture of palm trees and a beach, the Eiffel tower, or some other suitable representation. Alternatively, the prize could be indicated by a corresponding entry on the pay table.
A panel 36 may cover game reels 30, 32, and 34 such that only a portion of their individual circumferences are shown to the player. At least one symbol from any of game reels 30, 32, and 34 may be used to display a game outcome. At least one pay line 38 may be provided for the player to use in determining a game outcome based on the symbol or a combination of symbols positioned thereon.
In at least an alternative embodiment, gaming outcome display 28 utilizes a video display (not shown) displaying images of game reels and images of at least one pay line. A video display may also display game symbols in many other formats and arrangements, such as playing cards.
Gaming apparatus 10 further has a display 12 configured to display at least one game and prize to a player. In at least one embodiment, display 12 is configured to display a bonus game and at least one bonus prize to the player. In other embodiments, display 12 may provide a primary game. Alternatively, display 12 may be a stand-alone device allowing a player to place a wager and play a game.
In certain embodiments, display 12 is attached to gaming device 14 and positioned on top of gaming device 14. In other embodiments (not shown), display 12 may be separate from gaming device 14 but in communication with gaming device 14. In this embodiment, display 12 may be in communication with a plurality of different gaming devices 14 via a computer network in a manner that is well know in the art. Prize display 12 may be positioned adjacent to or remote from gaming device 14. In other embodiments, prize display 12 is a stand-alone display not in communication with gaming device 14 and it may be capable of independently accepting wagers and awarding prizes to a player.
Gaming device 14 may contain, or be in communication with, a number of components to capture, modify, and output an image to a player. For example, an image capture device 80, such as a camera, may be provided to record a player's image. An output device 94, such as a printer, may provide a player with a tangible item bearing the player's image. One or more sensors 90 may be used to aim and/or focus image capture device 80.
As depicted in FIG. 2, gaming device 14 may be in communication with one or more other systems in order to aid in awarding prizes, issuing cashless devices, distributing prizes, capturing and processing a player's image, and providing the player with a tangible item bearing their image.
FIG. 2 illustrates gaming device 14 in communication with cashless device dispenser/modifier 19. Dispenser 19 may be integrated with gaming device 14 or may be separate from gaming device 14. Many types of cashless devices are known in the art, such as the EZ-PAY system available from International Gaming Technology of Reno, Nev. (EZ PAY is a registered trademark of IGT).
Gaming device 14 may be in communication with remote network 54. Remote network 54 may be a computer system. Gaming device 14 and remote network 54 may be connected by any known or later developed means, including, but not limited to, local area networks (LANS), wide area networks (WANS), Ethernet connections, telephone connections, and the like.
Remote network 54 may have a database 56 to store information such as player tracking information, prize information, and cashless device information. Database 56 may store information associating a particular prize with a player, may record the identity of a cashless device, the identity of any prizes won, as well as information about how prizes may be obtained. Remote network 54 may also send images to, and receive images from, video processor 86.
Gaming device 14 may be capable, via controller 140 or other control mechanism (not shown), of producing a bonus-activating event. This event may be many different types of events. For example, a bonus-activating event may comprise a game outcome such as displaying a particular symbol, e.g., a “bonus” symbol, or combination of symbols, such as a “7” symbol on each of reels 30, 32, and 34 (FIG. 1 a). If the game being played is poker based, the bonus-activating event may be an occurrence of a certain hand, such as a royal flush. Furthermore, a bonus-activating event may occur when a player accumulates a number of symbols or game outcomes over a number of separate game plays. For example, a bonus-activating event may occur when the player receives three “bonus” symbols during a period of time. The bonus-activating event may be based on an external event. For example, a bonus-activating event may occur when a group of players obtain a certain result. Sensors (not shown) may be provided external to gaming device 14 to detect external bonus-activating events.
Bonus game controller 141 may further be provided to detect when a bonus activating event occurs in gaming device 14. Gaming device controller 140 may determine the outcome of each game, and when a bonus-activating outcome occurs, gaming device controller 140 may transmit a signal to bonus game controller 141. Alternatively, bonus game controller 141 may periodically interrogate gaming device controller 140. Bonus game controller 141 and gaming device controller 140 may be a single controller or separate controllers. In at least one embodiment, bonus game controller 141 is the GAM 2000 controller, available from Eagle Engineering of Pottstown, Pa.
The bonus prize may be determined by a random number generator (not shown) and a virtual pay table, such as the pay table described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,823,874 to Adams, which is hereby incorporated by reference. A simple pay table may also appear as follows:
| ||TABLE 1 |
| || |
| || |
| ||Random Number ||Amount Paid |
| || |
| ||0.00 to 0.50 ||$10.00 |
| ||0.51 to 0.75 ||$50.00 |
| ||0.76 to 0.95 ||X2 |
| ||0.96 to 1.00 ||$10,000.00 |
| || |
For example, if the random number generator produced 0.65 as the game outcome, the controller may cause indicator 43 (FIG. 1 a) to stop and pointer portion 64 (FIG. 1 a) to point to an indicia representing ten dollars. Alternatively, if the random number generator produced a value of 0.85, the controller may cause indicator 43 to stop and pointer portion 64 to point to an indicium 44 representing a multiplier of 2. The controller may then cause bonus meter 68 (FIG. 1 a) to display “10×2=20,” (assuming a base prize of ten dollars) and $20.00 would be awarded to the player.
The bonus selection process may be repeated for a predetermined number of times to accumulate several bonus prizes that are added to form the award to the game player. For example, the bonus game could be repeated three times to accumulate an award. The present invention is not limited to the example pay table shown. Furthermore, different kinds of bonus prizes may be awarded, such as progressive prizes, jackpot prizes, merchandise, services, prize multipliers, and additional games.
Effects may also be presented, such as pre-recorded sound from speakers 69 and 70 (FIG. 1), to make games more exciting for players and others proximate gaming device 14. Speakers 69 and 70 may be configured to announce a prize a player has won, play music during a prize winning event, announce features of the game offered by gaming apparatus 10, or play music to attract and entertain patrons. As shown in FIG. 2, speakers 69 and 70 may be in communication with a controller, such as controller 140.
A variety of graphics and lights, preferably designed according to a particular theme, may be displayed on display 12 (FIG. 1) to enhance the excitement and appeal of gaming device 14.
If the awarded bonus prize is money, the amount of the bonus prize may be added to the player's credit meter (not shown), may be dispensed to the player via a voucher or other cashless device, may be dispensed to coin receptacle 20 (FIG. 1), or an attendant may be summoned to award the prize to the player.
As illustrated in FIG. 2, game apparatus 10 may be associated with an image capture device 80. Image capture device 80 is not limited to any particular image capture device, but may be a digital device to facilitate image transfer, processing, and output. For example, image capture device 80 may be a digital camera or digital video recorder. Alternatively, analog images may be captured and then digitized by video processor 86.
Image capture device 80 may be fixed, or may be moveable. In certain embodiments, image capture device 80 may be mounted in or on gaming apparatus 10. In other embodiments, image capture device 80 may be located remote from gaming apparatus 10. For example, preexisting cameras, such as security cameras, may be used as image capture devices 80. An image capture system using security cameras is disclosed in U.S. Patent Publication U.S. 2002/0196342 to Walker et al., which is hereby expressly incorporated by reference in its entirety.
Image capture device 80 may be in communication with a video processor 86. Video processor 86 may be capable of performing a variety of image manipulations. For example it may be beneficial for video processor 86 to be able to re-size an image, extract portions of an image, alter an image's color or background properties, and add, subtract, or form composite images.
Video processor 86 and/or a controller, such as controller 140, may be in communication with one or more positioning sensors 90. In certain embodiments, positioning sensors 90 may be located on gaming apparatus 10. In other embodiments, positioning sensors 90 may be located on adjacent gaming device, chairs, fixtures, or may be mounted to walls, floors, or ceilings. Positioning sensors 90 may be ultrasonic sensors; however any suitable position sensor may be used. Positioning sensors 90 may enable video processor 86 and/or controller 140 to detect a player's position and thereby properly center, zoom, and/or focus image capture device 80 to record a player's image.
Video processor 86 may be in communication with image storage device 95 holding one or more stored image 96. Stored image 96 may be a preset image related to a theme of the gaming device. Stored image 96 may also be an image or likeness of the player, including images captured by image capture device 80. Images may also be stored in database 56.
When video processor 86 receives appropriate instructions, video processor 86 executes a set of instructions to merge a stored image 86 related to a theme of a game with a player's image or likeness to form a composite image. Details of suitable image processing systems are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,696,995 and 6,229,904 to Huang et al., which are hereby expressly incorporated by reference in their entirety.
FIG. 3 illustrates a player's image 104 and a background image 108 undergoing a series of processing steps 120 to result in a merged, composite image 112. The final merged image 112 may be any type of image and may contain a variety of elements. In at least certain embodiments, merged image 112 shows the player 118 and a FIG. 116 related to a theme of the game, such as a celebrity, in an interactive way. For example, merged image 112 may show the player 118 with an arm of FIG. 116 around player 118, pointing at player 118, and so on.
Background image 108 may be arranged to allow easy integration with the player's image 104. For example, a vacant area 124 can be left in background image 108 so that the player's image 104 can simply be sized, a corrected background inserted, and the modified player's image inserted into vacant area 124.
The souvenir, or image prize, can be awarded to the player in a number of ways. In at least one embodiment, the souvenir may be awarded by a primary game of chance. For example, a combination of symbols on the reels of a slot machine, or a special symbol appearing on one or more of the reels, may entitle the player to the souvenir. The souvenir may be the only prize awarded or may be awarded in addition to other prizes. In certain embodiments, the player may be required to place a threshold bet, such as three credits, before qualifying for the souvenir.
FIG. 4 presents a flowchart of one embodiment 200 of a game play method according to the present invention. At step 204, a player places a wager on gaming device 14. A game is presented to the player in step 206 and then decision 208 determines whether a winning event has occurred. If a winning event has not occurred, method 200 returns to step 204.
If it is determined at decision 208 that a winning event has occurred, method 200 proceeds to decision 210 where it is determined whether the winning event entitles the player to an image prize. If decision 210 indicates that the player is not entitled to an image prize, method 200 proceeds to step 212, awards any prizes to the player to which the player is entitled, and then returns to step 204.
In certain embodiments, a player is entitled to an image prize only if they place a wager above a certain threshold. In these embodiments, method 200 may proceed from decision 210 to decision 214 where it is determined whether the player's wager was above the threshold. If the player's wager is below the threshold value, method 200 may proceed to step 212, award an alternate prize, and the return to step 204. If the player's wager exceeds the threshold amount, method 200 proceeds to step 218.
If the player is entitled to an image prize at decision 210 or 214, method 200 may proceed to step 218 where sensors 90 may be used to determine the player's position. In other embodiments, the player may be manually allowed to adjust image capture device 80 in order to optimize their image. A video screen (not shown) may be provided to provide a preview of their image and to assist in the positioning and setup of image capture device 80.
Method 200 proceeds to step 220 where the player's image is captured. The image capture may be automatically initiated by video processor 86 or may be manually initiated by the player. The captured image is then processed, such as color correction, re-sizing, cropping, and the like, at step 222.
At step 224, a background image 108 is retrieved from image storage device 95 or database 56. Background image 108 and the player's image 104 are merged into composite image 112 at step 226. In certain embodiments, a number of background images 108 may be stored in image storage device 95 or database 56. In certain embodiments, the player may be allowed to select which background image 108 to use in creating composite image 112. In other embodiments, the background image 108 is determined by the game winning event.
Composite image 112 is transmitted to output device 94 at step 228. At step 230, composite image 112 is applied to a tangible object and the tangible object may be provided to the player at step 232. At step 234, any additional prizes are awarded to the player and then method 200 returns to step 204.
The image prize, or souvenir, can be provided to the player in a number of ways. For example, gaming device 14 may be provided with a printer 94 for providing a player a hardcopy of the photograph at the gaming device. Printer 94 may be an ink jet, thermal, laser, or any other suitable printing device. In addition, printer 94 may be of the type used in photo-kiosks.
To reduce operating costs, production costs, and simply the design of gaming apparatus 10, output device 94 may be located remote from gaming apparatus 10. One output device 94 may be in communication with a plurality of gaming devices 10. When the player is awarded in image prize, the player may be directed to the output device 94 where they can pick up the image prize. The remote location may also have the capacity to print the merged image on a variety of objects such as t-shirts, coffee mugs, key chains, and the like. The player may be provided with a softcopy, or electronic copy, of the image. The electronic copy may be provided to the player on a tangible medium such as a floppy disk or CR-ROM. The electronic copy may also be emailed or otherwise transmitted or made available to the player. In certain embodiments, the player is allowed to select what tangible item bearing the composite item they would like to receive, or if they would like an electronic copy of the composite image. In other embodiments, the tangible item is determined by the gaming apparatus 10 that awarded the player the image prize.
As represented by FIG. 5, image processing components such as image capture device 80, image processor 86, and their related components can be located at a kiosk 310. Kiosk 310 may be adapted to provide image prizes for a wide variety of gaming apparatuses 10, which may have the same or different themes.
Although the description above contains many specifications, these should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention but as merely providing illustrations of some of the presently preferred embodiments of this invention. Thus, the scope of the invention should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents rather than by the examples given.