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Publication numberUS20080214310 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 12/030,769
Publication dateSep 4, 2008
Filing dateFeb 13, 2008
Priority dateFeb 14, 2007
Also published asWO2008127775A1
Publication number030769, 12030769, US 2008/0214310 A1, US 2008/214310 A1, US 20080214310 A1, US 20080214310A1, US 2008214310 A1, US 2008214310A1, US-A1-20080214310, US-A1-2008214310, US2008/0214310A1, US2008/214310A1, US20080214310 A1, US20080214310A1, US2008214310 A1, US2008214310A1
InventorsThierry Brunet De Courssou, Cameron Anthony Filipour
Original AssigneeCyberview Technology, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Methods and systems for anonymous player profile storage and retrieval
US 20080214310 A1
Abstract
A method and personal instrument for players to store and retrieve their game and player preference profile without registering for a named personal player account therefore retaining their anonymity. When playing multilevel games, the described embodiments allow storing and retrieving the game level and/or other player or game information such that the game may be subsequently resumed at the same or a different gaming machine. Gaming machines may be configured to offer Anonymous Player Profile Storage and Retrieval using personal readable storage instruments such as machine readable Player Profile Tickets, personal memory devices, PIN-based keypad or modalities. Active anonymous players may be monitored while retaining their anonymity and consequently may earn loyalty bonuses and be prompted with promotional offers. Monitored active anonymous players may even be invited to join a conventional named player tracking scheme for additional benefits, if they wish to reveal their identity.
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Claims(28)
1. A method, comprising:
providing a first network-connected regulated gaming machine configured to enable a player to change personal parameters associated with the player during a game session on the first gaming machine, the first gaming machine including a first ticket printer and a first ticket reader;
providing a first memory accessible by the network;
enabling the player to start a first game session on the first gaming machine with default personal parameters;
changing the default personal parameters;
enabling a player to end the game session on the first gaming machine;
storing the changed personal parameters and an anonymous unique identifier in the first memory for later retrieval, the stored personal parameters being referenced by the anonymous unique identifier;
printing, by the first ticket printer, a first ticket including at least the anonymous unique identifier;
providing a second network-connected regulated gaming machine that includes a second ticket printer and a second ticket reader;
reading, by the second ticket reader, at least the anonymous unique identifier printed on the first ticket upon presentation of the first ticket by the player to the second gaming machine;
retrieving from the first memory via the network the stored personal parameters referenced by the read anonymous unique identifier, and
enabling the player to start, on the second gaming machine, a second game session configured with the retrieved personal parameters.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein the first memory is located in the first gaming machine and the retrieving is performed by copying the stored personal parameters directly from the first gaming machine to the second gaming machine via the network in a peer-to-peer fashion.
3. The method of claim 1, wherein the first memory is located in a remote central server coupled to the network and the retrieving is performed by copying the stored personal parameters from the memory located in the remote central server to the second gaming machine via the network.
4. The method of claim 1, wherein the personal parameters include at least one of game layout preferences, game configuration preferences, game themes preferences, a last game level achieved, a last point played in the game, a preferred starting point in the game, a player selected avatar, a player selected nickname (or pseudo-name), sound volume, and game accrued non monetary benefits.
5. The method of claim 1, further including a step of printing, by the first ticket printer, a second ticket associated with winnings or remaining credits of the player when a cash-out function is activated.
6. The method of claim 5, wherein the first ticket and the second ticket are merged on a single ticket.
7. The method of claim 1, further comprising a step of encoding the anonymous unique identifier printed of the first ticket by the first ticket printer in a machine readable code, the machine readable code being one of a 1D barcode, a 2D barcode and OCR text that is readable by the first ticket reader and the second ticket reader.
8. The method of claim 1, further comprising a step of encoding the anonymous unique identifier and the personal parameters printed of the first ticket by the first ticket printer in a machine readable code, the machine readable code being one of a 1D barcode, a 2D barcode and OCR text that are readable by the first ticket reader and the second ticket reader.
9. The method of claim 9, further comprising a step of printing a machine readable verification code comprising at least a PKI certificate and a signature of the anonymous unique identifier and the personal parameters on the first ticket to enable, when the first ticket is being read by the first reader or the second reader, authentication of the anonymous unique identifier and the personal parameters, the authentication including at least proof of origin of the PKI certificate.
10. The method of claim 1, further including steps of the first ticket reader reading at least the anonymous unique identifier printed on the first ticket presented by the player on the first gaming machine and retrieving the personal parameters referenced by the anonymous unique identifier from the first memory.
11. The method of claim 1, further comprising a step of the second ticket printer printing a second ticket including at least the anonymous unique identifier.
12. The method of claim 1, wherein the first game in the first game session and the second game in the second session are the same game.
13. The method of claim 1, wherein the first game in the first game session and the second game in the second session are the same game and wherein the second enabling step is carried out such that the second game is configured to resume from where the first game ended.
14. The method of claim 1, further comprising steps of monitoring an activity of the player identified by the anonymous unique identifier by a remote central server and recording, in a database, the recorded activity being referenced by the anonymous unique identifier.
15. The method of claim 14, wherein the monitoring step is carried out to enable the player to at least one of (a) earn loyalty bonuses, (b) be prompted with promotional offers, and (c) be invited to join a conventional named player tracking scheme for additional benefits if the player wishes to reveal his identity.
16. The method of claim 1, wherein the second providing step is carried out with the second gaming machine being configured to enable a player to change personal parameters associated with the player during a game session on the second gaming machine
17. A method of enabling regulated game play, comprising:
reading, by a first gaming machine, a player profile instrument provided by a player having initiated a first game on the first gaming machine;
retrieving, by the first gaming machine, player information from the read player profile instrument and using the retrieved player information to retrieve player profile information and configuring the first gaming machine according to the retrieved player profile information;
enabling the player to play the initiated first game on the configured first gaming machine;
responsive to one of a selected plurality of events, ending the first game and updating the player profile information with game information from the played first game;
reading, by a second gaming machine, the player profile instrument provided by the player having initiated a second game on the second gaming machine;
retrieving, by the second gaming machine, the player information from the read player profile instrument and using the retrieved player information to retrieve the updated player profile information and configuring the second gaming machine according to the retrieved updated player profile information, and
enabling the player to play the initiated second game on the configured second gaming machine.
18. The method of claim 17, wherein the player profile information is retrieved by the first gaming machine from a player profile database that is provided within the first gaming machine.
19. The method of claim 17, wherein the player profile information is retrieved by the second gaming machine from a player profile database that is provided within the second gaming machine.
20. The method of claim 17, wherein the player profile information is retrieved by the first and second gaming machines from a player profile database that is remote from the first and the second gaming machine.
21. The method of claim 17, wherein the selected plurality of events includes the player cashing out, the player running out of credits and the player terminating the first game.
22. The method of claim 17, wherein the second game is the same as the first game and wherein the second game configuring step configures the second game to start where the first game ended.
23. The method of claim 17, wherein the second game is the same as the first game and wherein the second game configuring step configures the second game to start in a level where the first game ended.
24. The method of claim 17, wherein the player profile information includes a player-selected avatar, wherein the first game configuring step configures the first game to use the player-selected avatar and wherein the second game configuring step configures the second game to use the player-selected avatar.
25. The method of claim 17 wherein, after the second gaming machine reading step, updating the player information and storing the updated player information on the player profile device.
26. The method of claim 17, wherein the player information includes a unique and anonymous player identifier that is associated with the player profile information of the player.
27. The method of claim 17, wherein the player profile instrument is a ticket printed by a first ticket printer included in the first gaming machine and read by a second ticket reader included in the second gaming machine.
28. The method of claim 17, wherein the player profile instrument is a removable personal memory that is recordable via a first removable personal memory reader/writer coupled to the first gaming machine and readable by a second removable personal memory reader/writer coupled to the second gaming machine.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. § 119(e) of Provisional Application No. 60/889,923, filed Feb. 14, 2007, which application is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present inventions relate generally to the field of regulated pay computer-controlled games, either pay-for-play (e.g. entertainment arcades, amusement arcades) or pay-for-wager (e.g. casino, video lottery, Fixed Odds Betting terminals or FOBT).

2. Description of the Prior Art and Related Information

No group has exerted more influence on the contemporary casino slot floor than the WWII and “baby boom” generations. A demographic that is at or is nearing the age of retirement, these generation represents a dominant segment of the casino gaming market, largely because of their disposable income and because of the wealth of time they have available to devote to recreation.

Because of this marketplace dynamic, casino gaming machine designers and operators have focused their industry around the WWII and baby boom generation players. A large percentage of the operating gaming machines are themed with cartoon and movie icons of these eras. Since players at or nearing retirement age tend to be less technologically savvy than younger players, gaming machines have evolved at a much slower pace than computing technologies. In addition, since the WWII and baby boom generation players did not grow up playing console video games, little motivation has existed and few inroads have been made in bringing console style video games to the casino floor.

Because of its reluctance to evolve, the casino gaming marketplace faces a number of risks in the coming years. The WWII/baby boomer generations will not dominate the gaming marketplace forever. While the process of changing game symbols and icons to better suit the next generation of players should not prove difficult, the process of changing the very essence of casino games will undoubtedly prove to be a more challenging endeavor.

It stands to reason that the next generation of casino players, a generation that has been raised on interactive console-based video games, is not likely to be entertained by games of a less technologically sophisticated era. Because the console video game paradigm involves “beating” games by advancing through a series of levels, it is logical that Generation X and Generation Y gamers will respond positively to casino games that work along similar lines. Spinning reels are not likely to entertain a player who grew up commanding armies, fulfilling mythical quests, winning super bowls, and rescuing princesses in distress amidst dazzling colors and rich graphics and sound.

In order to support the new brand of console-style casino games that must inevitably be developed, some key changes will need to be made to the layout and design of casino gaming machines. One such key change will involve the console video game paradigm of saving games. Because games in which a player advances through a series of levels typically cannot be conquered in a single setting, the player must have a means of storing his or her game at its current level of completion so that he or she may resume it later. In the current casino marketplace, no framework for capturing, storing, or retrieving this information exists.

Current casino games are also not adequately equipped to handle player preferences storage and retrieval. Moreover, as games continue to evolve, players will have increasingly more power to affect their gaming experience by changing the look, layout, and behavior of games to match their preferences. Currently, no reliable and convenient mechanism exists to “remember” a player's game preferences each time he or she begins a game within casinos.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, an embodiment of the present invention is a method, including providing a first network-connected regulated gaming machine configured to enable a player to change personal parameters associated with the player during a game session on the first gaming machine, the first gaming machine including a first ticket printer and a first ticket reader; providing a first memory accessible by the network; enabling the player to start a first game session on the first gaming machine with default personal parameters; changing the default personal parameters; enabling a player to end the game session on the first gaming machine; storing the changed personal parameters and an anonymous unique identifier in the first memory for later retrieval, the stored personal parameters being referenced by the anonymous unique identifier; printing, by the first ticket printer, a first ticket including at least the anonymous unique identifier; providing a second network-connected regulated gaming machine that includes a second ticket printer and a second ticket reader; reading, by the second ticket reader, at least the anonymous unique identifier printed on the first ticket upon presentation of the first ticket by the player to the second gaming machine; retrieving from the first memory via the network the stored personal parameters referenced by the read anonymous unique identifier, and enabling the player to start, on the second gaming machine, a second game session configured with the retrieved personal parameters.

According to further embodiments, the first memory may be located in the first gaming machine and the retrieving may be performed by copying the stored personal parameters directly from the first gaming machine to the second gaming machine via the network in a peer-to-peer fashion. Alternatively, the first memory may be located in a remote central server coupled to the network and the retrieving may be performed by copying the stored personal parameters from the memory located in the remote central server to the second gaming machine via the network. For example, the personal parameters may include game layout preferences, game configuration preferences, game themes preferences, a last game level achieved, a last point played in the game, a preferred starting point in the game, a player selected avatar, a player selected nickname (or pseudo-name), sound volume, and/or game accrued non-monetary benefits, to name but a few of the possibilities. The method may further include a step of printing, by the first ticket printer, a second ticket associated with winnings or remaining credits of the player when a cash-out function is activated. The first ticket and the second ticket may be merged on a single ticket. The method may further include a step of encoding the anonymous unique identifier printed of the first ticket by the first ticket printer in a machine readable code, the machine readable code being one of, for example, a 1D barcode, a 2D barcode and OCR text that is readable by the first ticket reader and the second ticket reader. The method may also include a step of encoding the anonymous unique identifier and the personal parameters printed of the first ticket by the first ticket printer in a machine readable code, the machine readable code being one of, for example, a 1D barcode, a 2D barcode and OCR text that is readable by the first ticket reader and the second ticket reader. The method may also include a step of printing a machine readable verification code comprising at least a PKI certificate and a signature of the anonymous unique identifier and the personal parameters on the first ticket to enable, when the first ticket is being read by the first reader or the second reader, authentication of the anonymous unique identifier and the personal parameters, the authentication including at least proof of origin of the PKI certificate. Steps of the first ticket reader reading at least the anonymous unique identifier printed on the first ticket presented by the player on the first gaming machine and retrieving the personal parameters referenced by the anonymous unique identifier from the first memory may also be carried out. The method may also include a step of the second ticket printer printing a second ticket including at least the anonymous unique identifier. The first game in the first game session and the second game in the second session may be the same game. The first game in the first game session and the second game in the second session may be the same game and the second enabling step may be carried out such that the second game is configured to resume from where the first game ended or left off. The method may also include steps of monitoring an activity of the player identified by the anonymous unique identifier by a remote central server and recording, in a database, the recorded activity being referenced by the anonymous unique identifier. The monitoring step may be carried out to enable the player to, for example, earn loyalty bonuses, be prompted with promotional offers, and/or be invited to join a conventional named player tracking scheme for additional benefits if the player wishes to reveal his identity. The second providing step may be carried out with the second gaming machine being configured to enable a player to change personal parameters associated with the player during a game session on the second gaming machine

According to another embodiment thereof, the present invention is a method of enabling regulated game play. The method may include steps of reading, by a first gaming machine, a player profile instrument provided by a player having initiated a first game on the first gaming machine; retrieving, by the first gaming machine, player information from the read player profile instrument and using the retrieved player information to retrieve player profile information and configuring the first gaming machine according to the retrieved player profile information; enabling the player to play the initiated first game on the configured first gaming machine; responsive to one of a selected plurality of events, ending the first game and updating the player profile information with game information from the played first game; reading, by a second gaming machine, the player profile instrument provided by the player having initiated a second game on the second gaming machine; retrieving, by the second gaming machine, the player information from the read player profile instrument and using the retrieved player information to retrieve the updated player profile information and configuring the second gaming machine according to the retrieved updated player profile information, and enabling the player to play the initiated second game on the configured second gaming machine.

The player profile information may be retrieved by the first gaming machine from a player profile database provided, for example, within the first gaming machine. The player profile information may be retrieved by the second gaming machine from a player profile database that may be provided, for example, within the second gaming machine. The player profile information may be retrieved by the first and second gaming machines from a player profile database that may be remote from the first and the second gaming machine. The selected plurality of events may include, for example, the player cashing out, the player running out of credits and the player terminating the first game, to name but a few possibilities. The second game may be the same as the first game and the second game configuring step may configure the second game to start or to resume from where the first game left off or ended. The second game may be the same as the first game and the second game configuring step may configure the second game to start in a level where the first game ended. The player profile information may include a player-selected avatar, the first game configuring step may configure the first game to use the player-selected avatar and the second game configuring step may configure the second game to use the player-selected avatar. After the second gaming machine reading step, the method may further include steps of updating the player information and storing the updated player information on the player profile device. The player information may include a unique and anonymous player identifier that is associated with the player profile information of the player. The player profile instrument may be a ticket printed by a first ticket printer included in or coupled to the first gaming machine and read by a second ticket reader included in or coupled to the second gaming machine. The player profile instrument may be a removable personal memory that is recordable via a first removable personal-memory reader/writer included in or coupled to the first gaming machine and readable by a second removable personal memory reader/writer included in or coupled to the second gaming machine.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a gaming machine configured to support Anonymous Player Profile Storage and Retrieval, according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 shows one possible embodiment of a Player Profile Ticket, according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 shows a flowchart detailing game play on a gaming machine supporting Anonymous Player Profile Storage and Retrieval, according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 shows how gaming machines using anonymous player profiles may handle player profile information retrieval, according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 shows how anonymous player profiles may be stored and retrieved via peer-to-peer gaming machine architecture, according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 shows how anonymous player profiles may be stored and retrieved via central server-based gaming machine architecture, according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 shows an embodiment of a Player Profile Ticket that uses a 1-D bar code, according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 8 shows an embodiment of a Player Profile Ticket that uses a 2-D bar code, according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 9 shows an embodiment of a Player Profile Ticket that features a credit count, cash value and a timestamp, according to an embodiment of the present invention

FIG. 10 shows an embodiment of a Player Profile Ticket that lists ticket redemption locations, according to yet another embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the following detailed description of exemplary embodiments of the invention, reference is made to the accompanying drawings, which form a part hereof, and in which is shown by way of illustration specific exemplary embodiments in which the invention may be practiced. These embodiments are described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention, and it is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized and that logical, mechanical, electrical and other changes may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the present invention. The following detailed description is, therefore, not to be taken in a limiting sense.

Embodiments of the present invention include methods and systems for enabling players to store and retrieve their game preference profile without registering for a player account, thus retaining player anonymity. When playing multilevel games, the method allows storing and retrieving the current game level such that the game may be seamlessly resumed at a later time. Gaming machines may be configured, according to embodiments of the present invention, to offer Anonymous Player Profile Storage and Retrieval using personal readable storage instruments such as machine readable tickets, personal memory devices, and PIN-based keypad schemes (among many other possibilities). Active anonymous players may be monitored (all the while retaining their anonymity) and may earn loyalty bonuses, may be prompted with promotional offers and/or may be invited to join a conventional full player tracking scheme for additional benefits if they wish to reveal their identity. The Anonymous Player Profile Storage and Retrieval may advantageously operate in a peer-to-peer fashion or may be implemented using central server architecture.

FIG. 1 shows a gaming machine configured to support Anonymous Player Profile Storage and Retrieval. Aspects of embodiments of the present invention may also be referred to by the shorthand notation “PIPO”, for “Preference In, Preference Out.” Gaming machines 102 configured to support Anonymous Player Profile Storage and Retrieval may include, for example, a primary gaming display 104 as well as a secondary display 110 that is typically used for secondary games. The primary gaming display 104 may display reels 106 and gaming meters 108, for example. Alternatively, the primary gaming display may display other types of games. The gaming machine 102, according to embodiments of the present invention, may include support for Anonymous Player Profile Storage and Retrieval according to embodiment of the present invention to allow for the anonymous storage and retrieval of player information through any combination of a number of input/output player interaction devices. Such input/output player interaction devices may include, for example, a ticket reader 112, ticket printer 114, keypad 116, and a portable memory media input slot 118. The portable memory input slot 118 may be configured for and used to receive “thumb-drives” and/or other portable memory devices that may be pre-configured and issued by, e.g., the casino. The portable memory input slot 118 may be configured for and used to receive “console personal removable memory devices”, which are commonly found in XBOX® and Playstation® game consoles allowing each individual player to store and retrieve data related to his personal profile and other game related parameters for games he has been playing. This may advantageously be used when a game operator offers two versions of the same game, one configured to be played in the casino for real money, and one to be downloaded by players configured to be played at home on a game console for simulated money. The player may bring his console personal removable memory device from home to the casino and vice-versa, such as to be able to re-use regulatory authorized personal data for games played at home and at the casino. It is to be noted that embodiments of the present invention are not to be limited by the exemplary gaming machine shown in FIG. 1 and described herein above. Indeed, other means of providing and reading player profile information will be devised in the future, and embodiments of the present invention may be readily adapted to make use of such future technologies, as those of skill in this art will recognize.

FIG. 2 shows an exemplary Player Profile Ticket, according to an embodiment of the present invention. During a gaming session, players may choose to have their current game status, player preferences, as well any other pertinent in game information (such as, for example, a player-selected avatar) stored on a Player Profile Ticket 202. This ticket may feature key information including: a heading describing its use as shown at 204, a statement regarding its cash value or lack thereof as shown at 206, a timestamp 208, and a bar code 210 or other machine readable code or indexing device to allow for information storage and retrieval. While Player Profile Tickets (examples of which are shown at FIGS. 2 and 4-10) represent one form of player profile storage device, although devices such as PIN based keypad systems and portable memory media (USB Flash drive, MP3 player memory, mobile phone memory, camera memory, media memory, XBOX player memory, PlayStation player memory, for example, secured by regulatory approved security means) may also be advantageously employed to store player profiles and other player information according to the inventions described herein. In addition, plastic cards having a magnetic strip may be used, as may be any device or method that enables the player information to be stored and retrieved (e.g., so-called “smart cards” with embedded secure memory and/or processor), the present inventions not being limited by the means or methods by which the pertinent information is stored, accessed and retrieved, without revealing the player's identity unless he explicitly allows it (the player remains anonymous).

FIG. 3 shows a flowchart detailing game play on a gaming machine supporting Anonymous Player Profile Storage and Retrieval, according to embodiments of the present invention. As the flow illustrates, players may elect to resume games at the point in which they were left off and/or adopt previously selected player preferences simply by inserting a profile storage device into the gaming machine or otherwise communicate such player profile information to the gaming machine. According to another aspect of the present inventions, players who do not have such a device or who wish not to avail themselves of the present Anonymous Player Profile Storage and Retrieval need not do so and may continue playing as they have conventionally, with no delay or inconvenience. As shown in FIG. 3, step S1 calls for the patron to initiate a gaming session. Such may be signaled, for example, by the patron approaching the gaming machine, touching the gaming machine or pressing a button on the gaming device or otherwise signaling a desire to initiate a gaming session in a manner that is recognized by the gaming machine. FIG. 3 is shown and described hereunder within the context of using Player Profile Tickets to store player profile information. At step S32, the gaming machine may determine whether the player has inserted or otherwise presented his or her Player Profile Ticket to the gaming machine (or caused the gaming machine to access such information). If not, no player profile information is communicated to the gaming machine and game play, as shown at S39, may default to level 1, or whatever is the default or entry point to the game for new, inexperienced or non-identified players. If the patron has indeed inserted or otherwise presented a Player Profile Ticket (or equivalent device) or has otherwise communicated his or her player profile information to the gaming machine, as suggested by the “Yes” branch of S32, step S33 may be carried out. As shown at S33, the gaming machine may read the inserted or presented Player Profile Ticket, retrieve the player information stored therein, configure the gaming machine and the presently active game according to the retrieved player information, configure the game to the player's preferred or last level and enable game play accordingly. The player information may be stored on the Player Profile Ticket, may be retrieved from a peer gaming machine based upon identifying information read from the Player Profile Ticket (which need not include any personal information) using similar peer-to-peer techniques as are disclosed in copending and commonly assigned U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/172,518, filed on Jun. 29, 2005 (incorporated herein by reference in its entirety) and/or may retrieve the player information from a central server that is coupled to a database containing a record corresponding to the identifying information read from the Player Profile Ticket.

At step S34, it is determined whether the player or patron wishes to change his or her player profile—that is, to change his or her existing preferences or to add new player preferences. If not, the method may proceed to step S36, whereupon the player plays or continues to play his or her game. If, however, the player wishes to change or add to his or her existing player profile (the “Yes” branch of S34), step S35 calls for the player to input such preferences through appropriate player interaction mechanisms such as, for example, on screen prompts, on-screen choices, voice input, buttons or active areas on a touch screen or by means of other input modalities. Game play may then proceed until patron wishes to cash out as shown at S37 (or the player's funds are exhausted). If, as shown at the “Yes” branch of S37, the player wishes to cash out, the new or updated player profile may be stored on the Player Profile Ticket or otherwise stored as shown at S38 and any winnings and/or remaining funds may be dispensed. The updated player profile may include an identification of the last level achieved by the player (or the latest point played in the game so as to enable a seamless resumption of the game at a later time), as well as any changes to the player profile inputted at S35. Other pertinent information may also be stored at this time, either on the Player Profile Ticket or on the gaming machine, a peer gaming machine or on a central server.

FIG. 4 shows how gaming machines using anonymous player profiles may handle player profile information retrieval, according to an embodiment of the present invention. While players may insert Player Profile Tickets such as shown at 402 into ticket acceptors 404 of a gaming machine 414 to retrieve their profile information, they may also use alternative profile storage devices such as, for example, a memorized account number coupled with a password 406 or a single memorized access code, both code systems being input into a machine via a keypad device 408. Such code-based player profile information storage systems and devices may function like highly secure offshore anonymous bank accounts, allowing players to use and access their accounts without the need to carry any storage media and with full confidence in their anonymity.

Once a player has inserted his or her Player Profile Ticket, input their access code (or account number and password) or have otherwise communicated or caused the retrieval of their player profile information, his or her unique anonymous player ID may be matched with one or more entries in a casino's profile database 410—which may be co-located or may be located in a remote secure location. Note that the anonymous player ID need not be matched with the player's personal identity, if the player does not so wish. In this manner, embodiments of the present invention may keep track of a player's player information without requiring the player to personally identify him or herself to the casino—unless the player so desires. The profile database may be composed of a simple table 412 or may be composed of a series of interrelated tables. Information stored within this table or tables may include but is not limited to: a customer ID, a customer profile code, a game title, a game status code, information on remaining credits, information on unclaimed or earned bonuses, sound volume, and a game timestamp. The database record corresponding to the player may then be used by the gaming machine 414 to set the player's preferences, remaining credits or remaining accrued benefits, current level (using the game status code, for example) and a host of other personalized services. Accrued benefits are credits or scores that the player may have accumulated before he exited the game that may be used when a new game session is started, such as ammunitions, fuel, lives, scores, or so like that are commonly encountered in multi-level or multi-act console type games. In new generation games for example those involving player skills, the player may remap the position or the functions of the buttons available on the gaming machine so suit his preferences; the key map may be saved in his player profile. Similarly, in new generation games, the screen layout may be configured by the player and the screen layout configuration may be saved in his player profile. Therefore, the player profile may be saved in a memory instrument and later be retrieved from that instrument. For example when a player is annoyed by a group of noisy players nearby, he may cash-out with an option to save his profile, go to another gaming machine in a quiet place, start a new game session with an option to retrieve his profile; consequently, the gaming machine and the game with be configured with the same parameters configured in the last gaming machine he was playing on.

In an embodiment of the inventions described herein, players who wish to renounce their anonymity may setup a player loyalty account (also known as player tracking account) such that their player profile account is merged with their player tracking account. An anonymous player playing on a gaming machine may have its anonymous play activity monitored and upon a predetermined activity criteria, receive via the video display or a voucher printed on the gaming machine, an invitation to open a player loyalty account for additional benefits. Any of the versatile media that handle anonymous player profile storage and retrieval may also be used for player tracking. In such an embodiment, players would be able to receive and redeem loyalty awards without having to carry a Player Profile Ticket 402. Players who wish to make their identities and contact information known to the casino may also qualify for mail-based or other electronic (email, web-based, Instant Messaging, etc.) promotions based on their player profile and the status they have achieved in trying to complete or conquer one or more games.

FIG. 5 shows how anonymous player profiles may be stored and retrieved via peer-to-peer architecture, according to an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 5, when a player profile device, in this case a Player Profile Ticket 502, is output from a gaming machine 504 configured for Anonymous Player Profile Storage and Retrieval according to an embodiment of the present invention, player profile information from the player's current game may be written to the local gaming machine database 506 of the player's gaming machine 504. When a player profile device (such as a Player Profile Ticket 502) in input to another gaming machine 508 on the network (e.g., Local Area Network (LAN)) 516, the database 506 of the gaming machine 504 on which the player last played last may be referenced and the associated player profile may be transferred (e.g., over the LAN 516) to the database 510 of the gaming machine 508 on which the player now wishes to play. Potentially, if the player 500 moves to gaming machine 512 with another profile ticket obtained from gaming machine 508, then his or her player profile 510 may be referenced and transferred from the database 510 to the database 514 of the gaming machine 512 on which the player now wishes to play. Such an arrangement is advantageous, in that no costly central server need be maintained and in that each gaming machine acts as an autonomous unit, able to earn the casino profits even in the event of an outage of a central system. Furthermore, future innovations may be quickly implemented across gaming machines from a same vendor as the system of FIG. 5 does not involve a central server controlled by another party.

FIG. 6 shows how anonymous player profiles may be stored and retrieved via central server-based architecture, according to an embodiment of the present invention. When a player profile device, in this case a Player Profile Ticket 602, is output from a gaming machine configured for Anonymous Player Profile Storage and Retrieval (gaming machines collectively denoted by reference numeral 604 in FIG. 6), player information from the player's current game may be written to one or more databases 606 maintained on or by a central server 608. As shown, the database 606 may include, for example, a customer database 614 and a game status database 616. Connections between the network of gaming machines and the central server 608 may be either wired or wireless as shown at 610 and may be made through a casino management system, as shown at reference numeral 612. When a player profile device (such as, for example, a Player Profile Ticket 602) is input to one of the gaming machines 604, the databases 606, 614, 616 may be referenced and the player information corresponding to the input Player Profile Ticket 602 retrieved. The player's gaming machine 604 may then be appropriately configured, according to the player information retrieved from the databases 606, 614, 616. Such central server-based arrangement may be more advantageous than peer-to-peer architecture for game operations that are distributed across remote properties, as shown in FIG. 6 in which some of the gaming machines 604 are located in Henderson, Nev., whereas remaining ones (or other ones) of the gaming machines 604 are located in Las Vegas, Nev. In this manner, a player having established a player profile and having obtained his or her Player Profile Ticket in Henderson, Nev. may thereafter travel to Las Vegas, insert the Player Profile Ticket in a gaming machine of his or her choice, and have that gaming machine configured according to the player information retrieved from or obtained on the basis of the Player Profile Ticket 602 obtained in Henderson, Nev. The peer-to-peer architecture of FIG. 5 or the central server-based architecture of FIG. 6 may depend upon a machine readable anonymous customer ID (usually a GUID Global Unique Identifier or referential index) printed on the Player Profile Ticket 602 to retrieve the player's stored profile and have his or her chosen gaming machine personalized according to his or her preferences and/or have the gaming machine seamlessly resume a previously interrupted game as of a last completed level, for example. Alternatively, the player may simply identify him or herself anonymously to the gaming machine by an account number and password pair entered via a keypad or via the touch screen, for example (therefore without any personal instrument), and have his or her chosen gaming machine personalized according to his or her preferences and/or have the gaming machine seamlessly resume a previously interrupted game as of a last completed level, for example.

Active anonymous players may be monitored while retaining their anonymity to earn loyalty bonuses, be prompted with promotional offers and be invited to join a conventional full player tracking scheme for additional benefits if they wish to reveal their identity.

FIG. 7 shows a basic embodiment of a Player Profile Ticket 702 that uses a standard 1-D barcode. The depicted Player Profile Ticket may include a textual header 704 announcing the ticket's purpose as well as a statement indicating that the Player Profile Ticket has no cash value, as shown at 706. The barcode 708 used on this Player Profile Ticket to store information is a conventional, one-dimensional bar code. Because all of the data included on this barcode is encoded in its horizontal width, its memory capacity is somewhat limited. Such barcodes are better suited for simple memory demands like storing, for example, a customer ID only (usually a GUID Global Unique Identifier or referential index).

FIG. 8 shows an embodiment of a Player Profile Ticket 802 that features a 2-D bar code. The 2-D bar code 804 featured in this Player Profile Ticket has data encoded in both the vertical and horizontal sections giving it a greater memory capacity, as compared with 1-D bar codes. 2-D bar codes are well suited for larger memory demands like storing a customer ID along with player profile information and game status. A signature and certificate of origin may be associated to the player information such that the integrity of the player information may be verified when the ticket is read again to retrieve the player profile directly from the information encoded in the 2-D barcode. The signature and certificate of origin may make use of, for example, the Microsoft code-signing scheme.

FIG. 9 shows an embodiment of a Player Profile Ticket 902 that features a credit count, cash value and a timestamp. According to embodiments of the present invention, player accounting may be consolidated into Player Profile Ticket such that the Player Profile Ticket may have a cash value. In the ticket depicted in FIG. 9, a printed statement 904 clearly indicates that the ticket may be redeemed for 93 credits. Another printed statement 906 may equate this credit value to a corresponding amount in cash ($9.30 in this example). The illustrated Player Profile Ticket may also include a timestamp 908, which may be used to indicate the time at which the ticket was generated.

FIG. 10 shows an embodiment of a Player Profile Ticket that lists possible locations or participating casinos 1004 whereby the bar code 1002 may be read for retrieving the player's profile. It is to be understood that the Player Profile Tickets shown in the figures are exemplary in nature only and that actual implementations of such Player Profile Tickets may include different features, visible indicia, machine readable indicia, security devices and/or features and may include different or additional functionalities than described and shown herein. It is also to be understood that the Player Profile Tickets may be printed (and read, thus Profile In/Profile Out or PIPO) by each gaming machine in addition to the traditional ticket (e.g., IGT EZ-Pay) having monetary value (that is used to claim the player's winnings or remaining credits) when a cash-out is activated in a Ticket-In/Ticket-out (TITO) system as described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,048,269, 5,265,874, 5,674,128, 5,800,269, 6,089,982, and 6,280,328. When a player actuates the cash-out function, the gaming machine may print two tickets, one being the Player Profile Ticket (PIPO ticket) and one being for the winnings or remaining credits (TITO ticket). A single ticket may be generated to combine the functionalities of PIPO and TITO. All such implementations that include (or that are instrumental in retrieving) player profile information are deemed, however, to fall within the scope of the presently shown and described embodiments of the present inventions.

Indeed, while the foregoing detailed description has described several embodiments of this invention, it is to be understood that the above description is illustrative only and not limiting of the disclosed invention. For example, while tickets, thumb drives, thumb memories, and keypad systems were listed as possible profile storage devices, other alternate devices such as smartcards or portable smart devices (PDA, mobile phones, MP3 Players, etc.) may also be used. Indeed, a number of modifications will no doubt occur to persons of skill in this art. All such modifications, however, should be deemed to fall within the scope of the present invention.

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Referenced by
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US8187074Oct 22, 2009May 29, 2012Aruze Gaming America, Inc.Gaming machine and gaming system, ticket issuing system that enable participation in game by inserting ticket
US8595811 *Nov 21, 2008Nov 26, 2013Kiz Toys, Inc.Systems and methods for providing a virtual world commodity device
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Classifications
U.S. Classification463/42, 463/25
International ClassificationA63F9/24
Cooperative ClassificationG07F17/32, G07F17/3244, G07F17/3237, G07F17/3234, G07F17/323
European ClassificationG07F17/32, G07F17/32E4, G07F17/32K, G07F17/32E6D, G07F17/32E6B
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Jan 29, 2011ASAssignment
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Owner name: IGT, NEVADA
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Effective date: 20080710
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Owner name: MUDALLA TECHNOLOGY, INC., CALIFORNIA
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Effective date: 20070221
Owner name: CYBERVIEW TECHNOLOGY, INC., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:BRUNET DE COURSSOU, THIERRY;FILIPOUR, CAMERON ANTHONY;REEL/FRAME:025233/0755