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Publication numberUS20070072678 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/536,386
Publication date29 Mar 2007
Filing date28 Sep 2006
Priority date28 Sep 2005
Publication number11536386, 536386, US 2007/0072678 A1, US 2007/072678 A1, US 20070072678 A1, US 20070072678A1, US 2007072678 A1, US 2007072678A1, US-A1-20070072678, US-A1-2007072678, US2007/0072678A1, US2007/072678A1, US20070072678 A1, US20070072678A1, US2007072678 A1, US2007072678A1
InventorsTodd Dagres
Original AssigneeDagres Todd A
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method and system of online gaming organization
US 20070072678 A1
Abstract
An aspect of the present invention relates to methods and systems for the organization of online computer network gaming applications. Embodiments of the present invention relate to providing filtered gaming applications in response to a user's computer game query. Embodiments of the present invention relate to providing computer game recommendations to a user by matching identified computer game characteristics to the user's computer game preference. Embodiments of the present invention relate to providing game file updates by tracking a user's actual computer game interactions and updating the user computer game preference file and game file with computer game applications that may match at least one characteristic of the user computer game preference file. Embodiments of the present invention relate to providing the user with targeted advertisement that may be based on the at least one characteristic of the user's computer game preference file. Embodiments of the present invention relate to aggregating monetized information from the user computer game preference file for at least one user computer game characteristic.
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Claims(68)
1. A method of computer game query, comprising:
receiving a user's computer game query, the query including indicia of a user's preferences with respect to computer games;
searching at least one database and returning computer games that match the user's query;
filtering the returned computer games using at least one user game preference; and
presenting the filtered returned computer games to the user.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein the computer game is an online poker game.
3. The method of claim 1, wherein the computer game query is a natural language text string.
4. The method of claim 1, wherein the computer game query is a semantic search.
5. The method of claim 1, wherein the computer game query is a contextual search.
6. The method of claim 1, wherein the computer game query is a game type.
7. The method of claim 1, wherein the computer game query is a game player type.
8. The method of claim 1, wherein the at least one database is remotely located on a network.
9. The method of claim 8, wherein the network is an Internet.
10. The method of claim 8, wherein the network is a local area network (LAN).
11. The method of claim 8, wherein the network is a wide area network (WAN).
12. The method of claim 8, wherein the network is a peer-to-peer network.
13. The method of claim 1, wherein the at least one database is locally located on a computer device.
14. The method of claim 13, wherein the computer device is a desktop computer.
15. The method of claim 13, wherein the computer device is a laptop computer.
16. The method of claim 13, wherein the computer device is a tablet computer.
17. The method of claim 13, wherein the computer device is a server.
18. The method of claim 13, wherein the computer device is a handheld computer.
19. The method of claim 13, wherein the computer device is a cell phone.
20. The method of claim 1, wherein the user game preference is a time of day.
21. The method of claim 1, wherein the user game preference is a length of time available for play.
22. The method of claim 1, wherein the user game preference is a preferred cost of games.
23. The method of claim 1, wherein the user game preference is a game's reputation.
24. The method of claim 1, wherein the user game preference is a user game parameter.
25. The method of claim 1, wherein the user game preference is a game invitation.
26. The method of claim 1, wherein the user game preference is a game indicator.
27. The method of claim 1, wherein the user game preference is an online identity.
28. The method of claim 1, wherein the user game preference is a game's popularity.
29. The method of claim 1, wherein the user game preference is a paid keyword.
30. The method of claim 1, wherein the user game preference is a paid game.
31. The method of claim 1, further comprising displaying the presented filtered games in a graphical user interface (GUI).
32. The method of claim 31, wherein the GUI presents the filtered games in a predefined order based on user game preference.
33. The method of claim 31, wherein the GUI presents the filtered games in a user defined order.
34-157. (canceled)
158. A system of computer game query, comprising:
a user's computer game query, the query including indicia of a user's preferences with respect to computer games;
at least one database and returning computer games from a search of the at least one database that match the user's query;
the returned computer games filtered using at least one user game preference; and
the filtered returned computer games returned to the user.
159. The system of claim 158, wherein the computer game is an online poker game.
160. The system of claim 158, wherein the computer game query is a natural language text string.
161. The system of claim 158, wherein the computer game query is a semantic search.
162. The system of claim 158, wherein the computer game query is a contextual search.
163. The system of claim 158, wherein the computer game query is a game type.
164. The system of claim 158, wherein the computer game query is a game player type.
165. The system of claim 158, wherein the at least one database is remotely located on a network.
166. The system of claim 165, wherein the network is an Internet.
167. The system of claim 165, wherein the network is a local area network (LAN).
168. The system of claim 165, wherein the network is a wide area network (WAN).
169. The system of claim 165, wherein the network is a peer-to-peer network.
170. The system of claim 158, wherein the at least one database is locally located on a computer device.
171. The system of claim 170, wherein the computer device is a desktop computer.
172. The system of claim 170, wherein the computer device is a laptop computer.
173. The system of claim 170, wherein the computer device is a tablet computer.
174. The system of claim 170, wherein the computer device is a server.
175. The system of claim 170, wherein the computer device is a handheld computer.
176. The system of claim 170, wherein the computer device is a cell phone.
177. The system of claim 158, wherein the user game preference is a time of day.
178. The system of claim 158, wherein the user game preference is a length of time available for play.
179. The system of claim 158, wherein the user game preference is a preferred cost of games.
180. The system of claim 158, wherein the user game preference is a game's reputation.
181. The system of claim 158, wherein the user game preference is a user game parameter.
182. The system of claim 158, wherein the user game preference is a game invitation.
183. The system of claim 158, wherein the user game preference is a game indicator.
184. The system of claim 158, wherein the user game preference is an online identity.
185. The system of claim 158, wherein the user game preference is a game's popularity.
186. The system of claim 158, wherein the user game preference is a paid keyword.
187. The system of claim 158, wherein the user game preference is a paid game.
188. The system of claim 158, further comprising the presented filtered games displayed in a graphical user interface (GUI).
189. The system of claim 188, wherein the GUI presents the filtered games in a predefined order based on user game preference.
190. The system of claim 188, wherein the GUI presents the filtered games in a user defined order.
191-314. (canceled)
Description
    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • [0001]
    This application claims the benefit of the following commonly owned U.S. Provisional Patent Application, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety: App. No. 60/721,921 filed on Sep. 28, 2005 and entitled “ONLINE GAME SEARCH”.
  • BACKGROUND
  • [0002]
    1. Field
  • [0003]
    The invention relates to searching and organizing online computer games for a user based on the user's game preferences, and more specifically a method and system of modifying the computer games that are presented to the user by monitoring the users gaming behavior and adjusting the user's game preferences.
  • [0004]
    2. Description of the Related Art
  • [0005]
    Computer gaming and online computer gaming is becoming increasingly popular with users who may play games ranging from solitaire to multi-user online role-playing games. Presently, a user may use a web search method (e.g. Google) to find the type of game that is interesting to the user. Even when a game is found, the user may have to determine on their own if the game is of the correct skill level, how much the game cost, or how is it rated verses other games. The user may spend time playing the game just to find out over time that it is not the game quality the user was looking for. The user may get involved in an online poker game and find that it is a high stakes game with minimum bids that are too high for the user.
  • [0006]
    There may also be websites that will allow a user access to a collection of computer games, but the user may not personalize game collection. Additionally, the game websites may not provide game ratings to allow the user to select a game matching the user's gaming skill without trial and error.
  • [0007]
    A need exist for a method and system to automate the search method for an online game that may be based on the users skill and likes that may present only games that match the users preferences.
  • SUMMARY
  • [0008]
    A method and system disclosed herein may include receiving a user's computer game query, the query may include indicia of a user's preferences with respect to computer games; searching at least one database and returning computer games that match the user's query; filtering the returned computer games using at least one user game preference; and presenting the filtered returned computer games to the user. The computer game may be an online poker game.
  • [0009]
    The computer game query may be a natural language text string, a semantic search, a contextual search, a game type, a game player type, or the like.
  • [0010]
    The at least one database may be remotely located on a network. The network may be an Internet, a local area network (LAN), a wide area network (WAN), a peer-to-peer network, or the like.
  • [0011]
    The at least one database may be locally located on a computer device. The computer device may be a desktop computer, a laptop computer, a tablet computer, a server, a handheld computer, a cell phone, or the like.
  • [0012]
    The user game preference may be a time of day, a length of time available for play, a preferred cost of games, a game's reputation, a user game parameter, a game invitation, a game indicator, an online identity, a game's popularity, a paid keyword, a paid game, or the like.
  • [0013]
    The method and system may further comprise displaying the presented filtered games in a graphical user interface (GUI). The GUI may present the filtered games in a predefined order based on user game preference, may presents the filtered games in a user defined order, or the like.
  • [0014]
    A method and system disclosed herein may include identifying at least one computer game from a user's computer game query; providing a computer game recommendation for each identified computer game by matching the identified computer game characteristics to a user's computer game preference; and presenting the identified computer game with the computer game recommendations to the user. The computer game may be an online poker game.
  • [0015]
    The computer game query may be a natural language text string, a semantic search, a contextual search, a game type, a game player type, or the like.
  • [0016]
    The game recommendation may be a number rating, a letter rating, a star rating, an alphanumeric rating, or the like.
  • [0017]
    The computer game characteristic may be the computer game time, a time required to play the computer game, a cost of the computer game, the computer game's reputation, an invitation to play the computer game, a type of computer game, the computer game's popularity, a paid computer game, a free computer game, or the like.
  • [0018]
    The user game preference may be a time of day, a length of time available for play, a preferred cost of computer games, a computer game's reputation, a user computer game parameter, a computer game invitation, a computer game indicator, an online identity, a computer game's popularity, a paid keyword, a paid computer game, or the like.
  • [0019]
    A method and system disclosed herein may include providing a game file storing computer game applications that may match at least one characteristic of a user computer game preference file; tracking a user's actual computer game interactions; modifying the user computer game preference file using the tracked user interactions; and updating the game file with computer game applications that match at least one characteristic of the modified user computer game preference file. The computer game may be an online poker game.
  • [0020]
    The computer game preference file characteristic may be a preferred computer game, a user's preferred computer game type, a time of day, a length of time available for play, a computer game preferred cost, a computer game desired reputation, at least one computer game parameter, an acceptable computer game invitation, at least one type computer game indicator, a user's online identity, a desired computer game popularity, a paid keyword, or the like.
  • [0021]
    The stored computer game application may be a result of a network search for computer games matching at least one characteristic of the user computer game preference file. The network may be an Internet, a local area network (LAN), a wide area network (WAN), a peer-to-peer network, or the like.
  • [0022]
    The stored computer game application may be a result of a computer device search for computer games matching at least one characteristic of the user computer game preference file. The computer device may be a desktop computer, a laptop computer, a tablet computer, a server, a handheld computer, a cell phone, or the like.
  • [0023]
    The user's actual computer game interaction may be the user playing a computer game, the user selecting a computer game, a number of times the user plays the computer game, an amount of time the user plays a computer game, an amount of points the user scores playing a computer game, an amount of money the user wins playing a computer game, an advertisement the user views.
  • [0024]
    The modification of the user computer game preference file may replace existing user preference information, may amend existing user preference information, may delete existing user preference information, may modify existing data within the user preference information, or the like.
  • [0025]
    The at least one updated computer game application may be a result of a network search for computer games matching at least one characteristic of the user updated computer game preference file. The network may be an Internet, a local area network (LAN), a wide area network (WAN), a peer-to-peer network, or the like.
  • [0026]
    The at least one updated computer game application may be a result of a computer device search for computer games matching at least one characteristic of the user updated computer game preference file. The computer device may be a desktop computer, a laptop computer, a tablet computer, a server, a handheld computer, a cell phone, or the like.
  • [0027]
    A method and system disclosed herein may include providing a user computer game preference file that may store at least one user computer game playing characteristic; monitoring the behavior of the at least one of a user's computer game playing characteristics while the user plays a computer game; modifying the at least one characteristic of the user computer game preference file to match the user's monitored game playing characteristics; and presenting to the user a targeted advertisement based on the at least one characteristic of the user computer game preference file. The computer game may be an online poker game.
  • [0028]
    The computer game preference characteristic may be a preferred computer game, a user's preferred computer game type, a time of day, a length of time available for play, a computer game preferred cost, a computer game desired reputation, at least one computer game parameter, an acceptable computer game invitation, at least one type of computer game indicator, a user's online identity, a desired computer game popularity, a paid keyword, or the like.
  • [0029]
    The modification of the user computer game preference file may replace existing user preference information, may amend existing user preference information, may delete existing user preference information, may modifie existing data within the user preference information, or the like.
  • [0030]
    The targeted advertisement may be a computer game advertisement, a computer game promotion, a computer game website advertisement, a computer game merchandise advertisement, or the like.
  • [0031]
    A method and system disclosed herein may include providing a user computer game preference file that may store at least one user computer game playing characteristic; monitoring the behavior of at least one of the user's computer game playing characteristics while the user plays a computer game; modifying the at least one characteristic of the user computer game preference file to match the user's monitored game playing characteristics; and aggregating monetizing information from the user computer game preference file for the at least one user computer game characteristic. The computer game may be an online poker game.
  • [0032]
    The computer game preference characteristic may be a preferred computer game, a user's preferred computer game type, a time of day, a length of time available for play, a computer game preferred cost, a computer game desired reputation, at least one computer game parameter, an acceptable computer game invitation, at least one of type computer game indicator, a user's online identity, a desired computer game popularity, a paid keyword, or the like.
  • [0033]
    The modification of the user computer game preference may file replace existing user preference information, may amend existing user preference information, may delete existing user preference information, may modify existing data within the user preference information, or the like.
  • [0034]
    The aggregation of monetized information may be provided to a computer game agency system, an affiliate system for revenue sharing with game sites, for merchandizing of a game product to the user, for a user subscription system, or the like.
  • [0035]
    These and other systems, methods, objects, features, and advantages of the present invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiment and the drawings. All documents mentioned herein are hereby incorporated in their entirety by reference.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
  • [0036]
    The invention and the following detailed description of certain embodiments thereof may be understood by reference to the following figures:
  • [0037]
    FIG. 1 illustrates an overall schematic of a game search process.
  • [0038]
    FIG. 2 illustrates an embodiment of a intelligent game channel guide interface.
  • [0039]
    FIG. 3 illustrates a high level schematic of the parameter interactions that are used to create an intelligent game channel guide.
  • [0040]
    FIG. 4 illustrates a process flow of different aspects of populating an intelligent channel guide.
  • [0041]
    FIG. 5 illustrates an overview of an online game portal.
  • [0042]
    FIG. 6 illustrates an overview of a game search system and interaction with a universe of connected computer devices.
  • [0043]
    FIG. 7 illustrates an overview of a game search method involving interaction with a universe of connected computer devices.
  • [0044]
    FIG. 8 illustrates a block diagram of the architecture of the game organizing application.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • [0045]
    An aspect of the present invention relates to a gaming software application using a client/server network architecture. The games that may be played on the gaming software application may reside on any computer device that may be connected to the network. In certain embodiments, the gaming software application may be used to search over a network for games that match a user's interest and provide a listing of all games that match the user's interest. In an embodiment, the server application may provide overall control of the gaming application and may include a search engine, a match engine, and a game infrastructure. In an embodiment, the client application may provide users access to the gaming software application and may include a game guide that may provide users with a list of all games that match their interests. In embodiments, the gaming software application may also include file structures for storing users' profile information and gaming information. Another aspect of the gaming software application relates to the continual updating of the list of games that may be of interest to the users. In embodiments, a network crawler may access the users' game profiles and search the connected network computer devices for games matching the users' profiles; the names of the games or links to the games may be saved to a game index. In embodiments, a search engine may search the game index based on users' search criteria.
  • [0046]
    Referring to FIG. 1, a high level schematic of a game search and index system 100 is illustrated. The game search and index system 100 may be capable of searching through a network to locate a software generated game of interest to the user. The game search and index system 100 may create and/or maintain an online game index 102 that may be used to index games resulting from the online search for games of interest. The online game search index 102 may be created using a web crawler, for example, to search the web for games that may be similar to games specified by a user. At the beginning of the indexing process, a user may define the games that the user would like to find on a network, the online game search web crawler may use a user personal filter to assist in the collection of games, or related history or other information relating to the user may be used to facilitate the gathering of games (e.g. the user's browser history may serve as a initial point for starting the game search). Over time, the web crawler may monitor the user's history, performance or behavior to determine if other gaming sites may be of interest (e.g. the browser history may be monitored for newly visited sites). The web crawler may continue to update the online game search index 102 based on new sites being visited, new games played, or based, at least in part, on other historical or behavioral information.
  • [0047]
    In a user defined search, the user may define game targets by keywords, game specific indicators, popular type of game, game rating, game reputation, game genre or the like. The web crawler may then search for games matching or related to the search criteria. The online game search index 102 may be maintained on the users computer device, it may be maintained on an online gaming server that may be located on a different computer device at a remote location or it may be located at another client or sever location, for example. The user may also use natural language search engines, keyword search engines, or other search engines in the process of looking for games. The user may also indicate game indicators, popularity, players, level, cost, reward, ratings, or other parameters in the search process.
  • [0048]
    During the search process, sponsors of gaming sites, games, advertisers or the like may interact with the search and the presentation of results. For example, the user may initiate a search and the search may involve keywords. The keywords may be auctioned in a sponsorship auction with the winners of the auction being permitted to post their content (e.g. advertisement, game, game site) with the search results presented to the user.
  • [0049]
    Similar to the open network search, after an online game search index 102 may have been created, the user may be able to perform a search of the available games within the index. In embodiments, the user may be able to use search facility 122 to perform a semantic, contextual or other form of search of the index of games. In the event a game is not located in the index, the online game search request may search online to find games matching the user's request. The index itself may be generated by the search facility 122.
  • [0050]
    The search facility 122 may use any number of search methodologies including page rank, game rank, keyword matching and the like. In embodiments, the search facility 122 may use a user's natural language game search request 104A. A natural language keyword translator 104A may interpret the natural language search request in an effort to match a layer of the search. The layers of the search may be a natural language query 104A, keyword match 104B, game indicator match 104C, popularity match 104D, player parameter match 104E, paid search keyword match 104F, or game rating reputation match 104G.
  • [0051]
    The game indicator match 104C may find games that match the type of game the user is looking to play through a matching of game indicators or descriptions (e.g Poker game). The game indicator match 104C may interact with an online game specific cue 124 that may find games that meet the user's indicators. Once the indicators are identified, the user may be presented with an option to join a game that is presently forming, already in progress, or to be formed at a later point in time.
  • [0052]
    The popularity match 104D may match a game's popularity with the user's request. The game may not be an exact match with the user's request and a match may be created for the user to consider. The type of match may be given an appropriate user rating based on the level of matching with the users request for a game.
  • [0053]
    The player parameter match 104E may match the user request for games based on a user's settings for time of the game, cost of entry for the game, rewards, pot amounts, number of players available, number of players already joined, number of players already signed up, projected duration of the game, rules within a game, or other preferences the user may set. The player parameter match 104E may interact with the preferences 128 settings for determination of the user's game preferences.
  • [0054]
    The paid search keyword match 104F may match a user's gaming request with a paid gaming advertisement, paid game, paid game site. The paid gaming advertisement may interact with an e-commerce system and/or auction system. For example, a game site may pay to be part of a user's online game search index 102.
  • [0055]
    The game rating reputation match 104G may provide a game match based on the rating or reputation a game may have. The game site may provide a maturity rating or may provide a rating of the game difficulty. The game site reputation may be determined based on the site quality, reliability, trustworthiness, user feedback, or third party evaluations. In embodiments, a listing or database of website reputations may be maintained through the online game index.
  • [0056]
    One or more of the layers of matching may be used to create a game guide 130 that may contain a listing of gaming sites or games that match the parameters of the user's search. The game guide 130 may provide a ranking of the games that meet the users online game search 122 and may provide a ranking, game name, game description, game rating, game schedule, game level, cost of the game, or other like information. This interface may allow the user to make an informed decision on which game to play, which site to enter, or the like.
  • [0057]
    In embodiments, the game index indexes games, game sites, game information and the like through referencing the location of the content. For example, the search process may produce twenty interesting results and the results may be cataloged in the index. The index may contain hyperlinks to the games, or the games themselves may be downloaded to a client associated with the user so he can gain access to the game.
  • [0058]
    Another aspect of the present invention relates to presenting indexed game information to a user through a graphical user interface. Information relating to the games, game sites and the like collected through the online search may be presented in a way that allows the user to select and/or interact with games, game sites, or gaming information. Referring to FIG. 2, an embodiment of an game guide interface 130 is shown. The game guide interface 130 may be associated with the game index 102. The game guide 130 may provide information relating to the collected game information and presented in categories such as a match quality 200, a game name 202, a game description 204, a game rating 208, a game schedule 210, a game level 212, a cost 214, compatible platform, or other related information. The game population associated with the index may be presented in an order that may use any of these information listings or categories. The match quality 200 may provide a rating system based on a number of stars, a ratings number, or other indication of rating on a predetermined scale. The game information may also be segmented by the playing platform such as mobile device, personal computer, gaming platform or the like. The game information may also be segmented by type of interaction, such as broadband, dial up, beeper network, Bluetooth or other connection type. Game information may also be broken up into online interactive games and downloadable games, for example.
  • [0059]
    There may be hyperlinks, links, references and the like to the games in the populated list presented in the game guide 130. A user may be able to select a hyperlink to open up an associated website or go directly to a game for example.
  • [0060]
    An option window 218 may be provided to allow the user further control over the game guide 130. In embodiments, the option window may be used to invite players, enter a number of players, similar skill, stakes, time, or day for a proposed game arrangement. The user may be able to select one or a combination of options to modify the order the populated games are displayed in the game guide 130.
  • [0061]
    FIG. 3 illustrates a method used in the population of the game guide 130. The game guide 130 may be populated with references from numerous sources. This embodiment shows the game guide 130 being populated through a matching engine 104. The matching engine 104 may be part of the search engine 122 or fed from the search engine 122. In addition, the matching engine 104 may be operated in association with the index 102 or fed from the index 102. There may be a plurality of matching engines 104 (e.g. each directed to a particular search) feeding the game guide 130. A reputation system 314, including games the user previously played and/or games others have played and rated, may feed the game guide 130.
  • [0062]
    There may be other influences on the population of the game guide 130 that may provide indexing/ordering information and if a site is secure and affordable. A reputation system 300 may provide a list of games and players of that game; this information may provide input into the game guide 130 to be matched with the user's preferences. The reputation system 300 may also be independently browsed by the user to determine what games may be in progress and which games may be joined.
  • [0063]
    The reputation system 300 may also contain a listing of games that is matched to the user's preferences and the online game search 122. The information in the reputation system 300 may contain integration of online and off line data that may include all games in the user's interest. The reputation system 300 may provide a “bubble gum” card display that may reflect a player's statistics for any of the games in the reputation system 300, display information such as game results, rating, skill level, reputation, or winnings may be shown.
  • [0064]
    Also influencing the population and indexing of the game guide 130 may be the player profile/preference 302, player history tracker 304, site security 308, commerce system 310, and an e-wallet system 312. One or more of these additional influences may provide information that may influence the games displayed in the game guide 130. These influences may provide an input into the rating each game is provided.
  • [0065]
    The player profile/preference may be the users profile or preference or the profile and preferences of the other players of the game. The online game method and system 100 may determine an overall average of the preference of the players already in the game and provide an input to the game guide 130. In an embodiment, the player profile/preference service may continue to update information as the game progresses, if the overall average of the preferences changes, the service may provide a message to the user stating the change in profile/preference.
  • [0066]
    The player history tracker 304 may provide an influence to the game guide 130 to indicate if a user has played this game in the past and the user's game performance.
  • [0067]
    The security 308 of the game site may be determined and provide an influence to the game guide 130. In an embodiment, game sites with low security ratings may be omitted from the game guide 130 population.
  • [0068]
    The e-commerce system 310 of the game site may influence the game guide 130 by the type of payment required for a game or the charge rates that may be required based on time or other parameter.
  • [0069]
    The e-wallet 312 may influence the game guide 130 by comparing any spending limits the user may have in the preferences settings or the amount of money that is in an account as compared to the charges for a certain game. In an embodiment, if a poker game requires a starting payment of $100.00 with minimum betting requirements and the user only has $104.00 in an accessible debit account, the game may be omitted from the game guide 130, or flagged as over limit.
  • [0070]
    FIG. 4 illustrates a game search system process 400. In this illustrative embodiment, criteria for a game search may be entered through the online game search index 102 and this criterion may in turn be feed into the search engine 122 where certain matching layers 104 may be employed. A reputation system 300 may also be used in the process of aggregating game results and the information from the search process, including reputation based information may be used to populate the game guide 130.
  • [0071]
    A game site e-commerce system 310, which may include an advertising system, may provide input into the game collection process. The e-commerce system 310 may provide information such as targeted advertising, promotions, agency systems for delivering players to a game site, affiliate systems for revenue sharing and fees, affiliate programs, revenue sharing systems with game site owners, payment methods, merchandising ancillary products, data mining systems, subscription systems, and certification systems. All of these systems or costs may be input into the search process and may influence the games that populate the game guide 130.
  • [0072]
    The security system 308 may provide input into the overall game search process by providing a security rating of the game site. The security system 308 rating may be determined by information such as reputation, user reviews, and game site virus systems in the process.
  • [0073]
    The game search process may interact with the web continually, periodically, at predetermined intervals, during idle periods or at other times looking for new games, game sites and the like. Newly located games, game sites and the like may be added to the online game search index 102.
  • [0074]
    Once the game guide 130 is populated, the user may be presented with several choices: go to a games section 414, play a game 418, get game information 420 or perform some other function. Each of these choices may result in a player experience tracking process. The tracking process may involve tracking likes and dislikes or it may involve tracking the level and performance of the game play. For example, the process may involve tracking the performance of the user during game play to assess the proper level of the user. If the user is assessed at an improper level, more appropriate level games may be recommended and/or instructions may be provided. The instructions may be provided through a software teaching program adapted to track performance and make suggestions on how the user may get better.
  • [0075]
    Different ratings may be provided by a user playing a game to assess the experience of the user. The amount of time a user spent playing a game may be used inference how well the user liked his experience in the game. For example, the longer a user plays a game the higher the rating the game may be get. If a game is only briefly encountered, the game may get a low rating.
  • [0076]
    Referring to FIG. 5, an overview of the game portal 500 is shown. The game portal 500 may be adapted to allow a user's computer device to interact with game sites, games, other gamers and associated facilities. The game portal 500 may allow access to the online game search index 102, online game search 122, match layers 104, game guide 130, tracking 502, learn player behavior 504, commerce system 310, advertisement insertion 510, paid search 512, e-wallet 312, affiliate systems 518, and/or tournaments/events 520.
  • [0077]
    Tracking as discussed in FIG. 4 may involve how the user interacts with a game site. The longer a user plays may be a good indicator and this information may be stored in the users preferences/behavior settings.
  • [0078]
    An information system may be part of the game portal 500 that may provide game information 522, game reviews 524, game cheat codes 528, game chat groups 530, game product search 532, and news and information related to gaming. This information may be similar to information obtained through a gaming magazine or gaming sites that provide different aspects of the gaming industry. The portal may be personalized to gather or link to user relevant information. For example, the system may have assessed the behavior of the user and understand that the user plays poker predominantly, so the links and/or information gathered may related predominantly to poker.
  • [0079]
    FIG. 6 illustrates a game search process. The connected computer devices 600 may be connected through the World Wide Web with LANs, WANs, Internet, intranets, extranets and the like. The connected devices may be associated with or capable of associating with online games 602. The online and connected games 602 may interact with the online game search index 102 with the web crawler 704 accessing the user's preferences to search the online and connected games 602 for games that may be of interest. This interaction between the online game search index 102 and the online and connected games may be an ongoing process that is continually, periodically or otherwise updating. In embodiments, this updating process may mean that every time a user accesses the game guide 130, there may be a different game listing from the previous access.
  • [0080]
    With the updating of the online game search index 102, where games may be added or removed, the process flow may progress through the previously discussed steps of online game search 122, matching layer engines 104, reputation system 300, and/or to populate the game guide 130. As discussed previously, the game commerce system 310 may provide additional influence on the intelligent game channel guide 128 by adding additional game ratings base on the overall cost of the game site or the system may provide other functions.
  • [0081]
    As can be seen in FIG. 6, the game portal 500 may provide access for the online game search 102, game matching layers 104, reputation system 300, intelligent game channel guide 220 and the game commerce system. The game portal 500 may provide these systems and engines with connections to information that may be needed by the system or engine for game selection at each step of the process. At the same time, the game community 604 may be providing information that may affect the game site selection process by providing information such as user reviews, game news, or game background. This information may be added to the selection process and may omit a game from making the final game population or may affect the games rating.
  • [0082]
    FIG. 7 illustrates an online search system involving player behavior searching. In this embodiment, game index criteria 702 may be generated and used to feed a web crawler 704. The web crawler 704 (e.g. similar to that described in connection with other embodiments herein) may collect search results and populate an online game index 102. Other search engines 122 may also feed the online game index 102. In the course of selecting games, a user may use a matching engine 104 (i.e. a special search engine) to generate more search results 128. For example, the matching criteria may be similar to that shown in connection with matching criteria 724 and 728. The selection of search results 128 may be monitored to gauge player behavior 714. The search results 128 may also be used to generate or update a player profile 720. The player profile 720 may also be generated through the search engine 122 or through other related information. The search results 128 and the player behavior 714 may be used to generate and update a recommendation engine 718.
  • [0083]
    In FIG. 8, aspects of the gaming application pertaining to gaming application component connectivity are illustrated. As depicted in FIG. 8, an embodiment of the gaming application may communicate through a network 800 or a direct component connection, or it may be one component executing on a server or a client. At a high level, embodiments of the gaming application may include a number of components that may provide the aspects of the invention; some of the components may contain additional components, modules, or services. For example, components of the gaming application may include a gaming server 802, a client browser 810, the game index 102, a profile file 804, a sponsor system 812, a network 800, and the like.
  • [0084]
    In embodiments, the gaming application may provide the user with capability to search, find, and play games. The games may be any type of game that may be played on a computer device, such as card games, board games, word games, mobile games, action games, role-playing games, sports, strategy/tactical games, arcade games, simulation games, and the like, as will be described in more detail below. The network 800 may be any network or type of network to which a user's computer device may be connected, such as a WAN, a LAN, an intranet, an Internet, a peer-to-peer network, or the like. The games may reside on any computer device that is connected to the same network as the user's computer device, such as the user's own computer device, another computer device, a server, a game console, or the like.
  • [0085]
    Gaming applications as depicted in FIG. 8 may be arranged using a variety of architectures. In certain embodiments, the gaming application may be a distributed system with the different components located on different computer devices that may be connected to each other either directly or through the network 800. Alternatively, some of the components may be located on the same computer device that may be connected to another computer. In addition, available components of the gaming application may include a plurality of additional modules or services. For example, the gaming server 802 may include additional modules such as the search engine 122, the match engine 104, and a game infrastructure 820.
  • [0086]
    In an embodiment, for example, the game index 102 and a profile file 804 may be included as part of the gaming server on one computer device. In another embodiment, the gaming server 802, game index 102, profile file 804, and game guide 130 may all be located on one computer device. In another embodiment, it is understood that many of the gaming application components may be located on the same computer device, or the components may be directly connected without using a network 800.
  • [0087]
    As one example of architecture that may be employed by the gaming applications depicted in FIG. 8, a game server 802 may access information stored on other remotely located computer devices; the stored information may be located on the profile file 804, game index 102, or the like. In this embodiment, a client browser 810 application may provide access to the game guide 130 that may be located on the client computer device; the game guide 130 may be a user interface to provide access to online games. In this embodiment, all of the different gaming application components may be remotely located and may interface with each other through the network 800 using network paths 824, 828, 830, and 832.
  • [0088]
    For example, the direct connection of components may use connections 834, 838, 840, and 842 to provide access to the different components. The direct connections may allow the different gaming application components to function as one computer device; the direct connections may be provided by a LAN, WAN, or the like.
  • [0089]
    As another example of architecture that may be employed by the gaming applications depicted in FIG. 8, all of the components may be located on one computer device; the components may include the gaming server 802, game index 102, game guide 130, and profile file 804. The one computer device may act as a server that may be connected to the network 800; users may be able to connect to the gaming application using their client browser 810. In this example, the client browser may provide only user access to the gaming application without any additional gaming components on the client device.
  • [0090]
    A person knowledgeable in the art would understand that the gaming application architecture may have many different implementations and still provide the same aspects of the game application invention.
  • [0091]
    Components of game applications illustrated in FIG. 8 may include, in certain embodiments, a gaming server 802, the profile file 804, the client browser 810, and the game index 102. Each component will be described in more detail, with reference to FIG. 8.
  • [0092]
    As depicted in FIG. 8, the gaming server 802 may contain sub-components such as the search engine 122, the match engine 104, a game infrastructure 820, and the like. These sub-components may exchange information and may provide an information flow that may begin with a user's game search and continue to the creation of a listing of games that match the user's profile. In FIG. 8, these components are shown as being within the gaming server 802, but it should be understood that the components may be connected computer devices as part of a distributed gaming server 802; the connections may be provided by a LAN, WAN, or the like. The gaming server 802 may coordinate the connected components, and therefore the connected gaming server 802 may provide an interface as a single server device.
  • [0093]
    Within the gaming server 802 there may be an information process flow from the search engine 122 to the match engine 104, and then to the game infrastructure 820. During the information flow, the various sub-components may interact with other game application components such as the profile file 804, the game index 102, or the game guide 130. The component interaction may use the previously discussed network (824, 828, 830, 832, and/or 848) or direct connections (834, 838, 840, 842, and/or 844).
  • [0094]
    Within the gaming server 802, the information flow may begin with the search engine 122 that provides the game search capability to the gaming application. The search engine 122 may include the network crawler 704, a search user interface 852, a user behavior service 854, and the like.
  • [0095]
    In an embodiment, the search engine 122 network crawler 704 may access user information from the profile file 804 to determine the user's past game playing behavior. With the user's gaming behavior accessed, the network crawler 704 may access the network 800 to find all games that match the profile file 804 parameters; the list of matching games may be stored in the game index 102 for later searching by the search engine 122. In an embodiment, the network crawler 704 may continually update the game listing in the game index 102.
  • [0096]
    In an embodiment, the user may initiate a game search by making a connection between the user's client browser 810 and the search engine 122 user interface 852. The user may be able to input search queries into the search user interface 852 to initiate a search for a matching game or game type on a connected device. The search engine 122 behavior service 854 may combine the user's search parameters from the user interface 852 with the user's profile information from the profile file 804. The search engine 122 may use the combined search parameters and behavior information to search the game index 102 for all games matching the user's game request. The game index 102 may have been previously updated with a game listing by the network crawler 704 based on the user's game profile and game history. The search of the game index 102 may result in a listing of all games matching the user's game query. The resulting game listing may be passed to the matching engine 104 to be reviewed and matched with other parameters.
  • [0097]
    In an embodiment, the player behavior service 854 may be a background service that may continually monitor the user's gaming activities to maintain the user's profile of game or game type. The behavior service 854 may maintain at least one file that contains the user's gaming profile based on observed player gaming behavior. Initially the profile files 804 may contain user input information that may relate to game and game types that the user likes to play. In an embodiment, the user may provide a list of games played previously or a list of the type of games preferred (e.g. simulations or card games). The user may also input any preferences about the time of day for games, the length of time available for play, the preferred cost of games, and the like. This initial information may also be provided to the network crawler 704 of the search engine 122 to allow searching for games based on the user's profile. The information may be maintained in a file, database, table, relational database XML, ASCII file, flat file, or the like.
  • [0098]
    As the user plays games using the gaming application, the player behavior service 854 may monitor the activities of the user's gaming. The player behavior service 854 may monitor the games or types of games played, the length of time the game is played, the time of day the game is played, the cost of the game, or the like, and the service may update the user profile file 804. The user behavior service 854 may maintain different user files for each type of game the user plays, or there may be one file for all the game types. For example, the player may prefer free simulation games but also may prefer a high stakes poker game; therefore, the behavior service 854 may save this information in different game files. In this manner, as the user's game preference changes over time, the gaming application may adjust by modifying the user profile; thus new user game searches may include the new type of games played by the user without the user having to make changes manually. The user may also be able to manually update the profile file 804 by adding or deleting a game, a game type, or other gaming information.
  • [0099]
    The player behavior service 854 may provide information to the search engine 122 when a user initiates a search for a game. The behavior service 854 may provide the latest profile of the type of game for which the user is searching.
  • [0100]
    The player behavior service 854 may provide information about the final selected games and may provide for game ranking or filtering. For example, after the game search and matching is completed, the service may create an unranked listing of matching games. The player behavior service 854 may provide information about the final search results and add the player's personal preferences to the list; therefore the games may be ranked according to the user's personal game preferences. For example, the user may have searched for poker games, and a significant list of available games may be returned. The player's preference provided by the player profile file 804 may contain a preference for Texas Hold'em with maximum bidding of $100 and games starting after 8 pm. This information may provide for filtering or ranking of the games returned to the user.
  • [0101]
    The player behavior system 854 may interact with a number of other gaming application systems such as the player profile file 804, the recommend engine 858, the search results 874 in the game guide 130, or the like. The player behavior system 854 may track the user's gaming activities such as games played, game scores, game sites visited, money paid to games, time spent playing games, and the like. In an embodiment, as the user plays games or visits gaming sites, the player behavior system 854 may track the gaming activities and may modify the user's profile file 804.
  • [0102]
    In embodiments, the matching engine 104 of the gaming server 802 may provide game filtering or matching capability to the gaming application. The matching engine 104 may include a recommendation service 858, the reputation service 300, a sponsorship service 862, or the like. In an embodiment, the matching engine 104 may receive the game listing from the search engine 122 and filter the list according to a user profile obtained from the profile file 804, the game recommendation 858, the game reputation 300, the game sponsorship 862, or the like. In an embodiment, the game list may flow through each of the services for game filtering based on predetermined parameters; the predetermined parameters may be stored in the profile file 804. For example, the recommendation service 858 may filter the game list based on the rating other users have given a certain game; a recommendation below a certain threshold may be used to exclude games from the game listing.
  • [0103]
    Game matching may be a method of matching user specific game preferences with a received total set of games resulting from a user search; the matching may output only a list of search results that meet certain user preferences. The matching engine 104 may control the matching process that may match user specific criteria or other criteria with the total set of games found during the user initiated search. There may be a plurality of matching filters or layers that combined may comprise the entire set of rules for matching the user preferences with the total set of found games. The result may be a sub-set of games that may be appropriate matches with the game or game type for which the user is searching. Matching may be with, but not limited to, game reputation, user parameters, user preference, game invitation, game indicator, online identity, game popularity, paid keyword, paid gaming, or the like. The game matching may output to a search results file from which the user may be able to select a game to play. The full game set that resulted from the user search already may have been filtered by information from the player profile files 804, and the matching may provide an additional layer of filtering of the full set listing of games.
  • [0104]
    The game matching may provide ranking information about the set of games that resulted from the user's game search. The set of games may be provided with additional information about the best matches of games for the user. For example, a game may get a favorable ranking for having a good reputation with other users, being popular, and having other current user-players whose profiles are similar to those of the user.
  • [0105]
    The recommend system 858 of the match engine 104 may provide game recommendation information to the game guide 130 that may be used as part of the game rating or game quality values. The recommend system 858 may provide information by interfacing with at least one of the following kinds of information: user's profile, history tracker, game security, game e-commerce requirements, e-wallet information, layers of matching, games available, other users playing a game, or the like.
  • [0106]
    For example, the recommend system 858 may review the amount of funds available in the user's e-wallet account to determine whether the user is able to pay for a game. Using this example, if a user has $200 in an e-wallet account used to pay for games, and the user wishes to play an online poker game with max bids of $100, the game may get a low rating or match quality because the user may not be able to play long. In an embodiment, the gaming application may provide an indication to a user that the e-wallet does not have sufficient funds to play a game, or the gaming application may give the user notice to put more money into the e-wallet before playing a game.
  • [0107]
    As another example, the recommend system 858 may review the games to determine whether a game is still accepting players or is closed. The recommend system 858 may review the other players already in the game for skill or other parameter and match the other players' parameters to the user's parameters. The recommend system 858 may provide information for the game rating or match quality based on how well the user matches with the players already in the game.
  • [0108]
    The game reputation 300 match performed by the match engine 104 may match reputations of the full game set with the game's reputation; the reputation value may be created by the combined user ratings of the game, industry opinion of the game, magazine ratings of the game, the number of other users wanting to play the game, the average skill level of the other users of the game, or the like.
  • [0109]
    A player parameter match may match the full game set with the matching skill levels of the other players in the game, game requirements, economics of the game, or other parameters that may be defined by the user.
  • [0110]
    A preference match may match the full game set with a ranking of the game or game site. The ranking may be based on user opinions of the game or site, magazine ratings of the game or site, the number of players on the game or site, money required to play the game, the amount of money the game pays out, or the like.
  • [0111]
    An invitation match may match the full game set with an electronic invitation to play a game; the invitation may be from a messenger program or by email. The invitation match may base the match on the number of other users invited, the game parameters, the other users' parameters, or the like.
  • [0112]
    A game indicator match may match the full game set during the ad hoc forming of a tournament. The ad hoc tournament may be formed by the game application matching similar users who may be searching for the same type of game. The user may be notified in the search listing that the ad hoc tournament may be forming.
  • [0113]
    An online identity match may match the full game set with the identity of other users online or already playing a game. The user's parameters may be matched with the other players' capability parameters to find games with compatible players.
  • [0114]
    A popularity match may match the full game set with the game's popularity; the popularity may be based on the number of users playing the game, the number of users that have played the game over a period of time, industry information about the game, or the like.
  • [0115]
    A paid keyword match may match a search keyword with keywords provided by an enterprise for directing the game set to a particular game. The paid keywords may be provided by an affiliate or an agency to assure the affiliate or agency's game will be included in the final search results. Games that are in the final search results may have an indication that the game is a result of a paid keyword match.
  • [0116]
    The reputation system 300 may provide information about the reputation of games or game sites such as game quality, game or game site reliability, trustworthiness, user feedback, 3rd party evaluations, and the like. The reputation system 300 may provide information used during the game matching process to match the user's requirements and parameters with the reputation parameters of the game or game site. The reputation system 300 may compare at least one of the user's profile values to the searched game or game site. The reputation system 300 may attempt to match as many of the user's profile or preference values as possible to the game or game site. The reputation may also include the reputation of gaming leagues.
  • [0117]
    The reputation system 300 may provide a window of information about and statistics of the players in a game. In an embodiment, the window of information and statistics may be presented in the form of a “bubble-gum” card with information such as game results, ratings, skill level, reputation, winnings, and the like. The user may be able to display the window of information and statistics on any of the players in the game. The reputation system 300 may also show the information and statistics of the user compared to those of any of the players in the game or the average player in the game.
  • [0118]
    The reputation system 300 may integrate both offline and online information on a game. Over time the gaming application may gather information about games in an offline file that may include information such as the average number of players; the quality, statistics, and reputations of players; and the like. This offline information may be integrated with the current online information, and the information may be available to the user for viewing. This information may be helpful to the user in choosing which game to select.
  • [0119]
    The reputation system 300 of the match engine 104 may determine gaming security of the game or game site to determine if the game or game site is operating securely. The security may be determined by the game trustworthiness, site security, other site links, age of the site, origin of the site, and the like. In an embodiment, a game or game site with a low security rating may receive a low game rating or match quality. The reputation system 300 may determine the type of e-commerce the game or game site may have in order to determine the reliability of receiving money from the user. In an embodiment, a game or game site with a non-reliable e-commerce system may get a low game rating or match quality.
  • [0120]
    The reputation security system 300 may insure player security as the user accesses games or game sites. The reputation security system 300 may provide an alert or warning to inform the user of any possible security threats from the game or game site. The user may be able to determine whether the game should be played based on the security threat level. The reputation security system 300 may prevent access to a game or game site if the threat level is above a set threshold level. The reputation security system 300 may verify the game or game site's security by checking the site's trustworthiness, the amount of time the site has been active, the origin of the site, 3rd party information about the site, industry information about the site, game application information about the site, or the like.
  • [0121]
    The reputation security system 300 may also provide a privacy system that may allow the user to prevent other players from seeing the user's information. The privacy system may not show user information based on a user setting in the user's profile or preferences, the security level of the game site, the type of information the game site is seeking, or the like. The user or the reputation security system 300 may be able to prevent some or all of the user's information from being shown to other players.
  • [0122]
    In an embodiment, the reputation service 300 may use a game's predetermined reputation as a security filter to exclude the game from the game listing. The game reputation security may be based on the length of time the game site has been available, the origin of the game site, the e-commerce used, or the like. The game reputation security may be predetermined by the security information stored in a file, or the security reputation may be determined in real time using security parameters. The reputation service 300 may access the game site through the network 800 to determine the game's security reputation.
  • [0123]
    In an embodiment, the match engine 104 sponsorship engine 862 may use a network 800 connection to interface with a sponsor 812 to determine if a game is still an actively sponsored game. In an embodiment, a sponsored game that is no longer active may be removed from the game listing.
  • [0124]
    In an embodiment, the result of the game listing flowing through each of the match engine 104 filters may result in a modified game listing that meets requirements of the user's game parameters, game reputation, game recommendation, and the like. In an embodiment, games that are removed from the game listing may not be available to the user for viewing or selection. When the match engine 104 has completed the filtering of the game listing, the modified game listing may be passed to the game guide 130.
  • [0125]
    In embodiments of the gaming server 802, the game infrastructure 820 may provide the administrative interfaces of the gaming application. The game infrastructure may include a security service 864, an account manager 868, a transaction module 870, a game hosting module 872, the game portal 500, or the like. The game infrastructure 820 may interact with the profile file 804 (e.g. economic profile 888 or account information), game guide 130 (e.g. game hosting), the game site, or the like. The game infrastructure 820 may also provide the game application services to support the game guide 130 interface. In an embodiment, as a user selects a game from the game guide 130, the game request may be directed to the game infrastructure 820 to determine the security thresholds, initialize the e-wallet, access the game e-commerce, and the like.
  • [0126]
    In an embodiment, the security service 864 may use the security settings of the game infrastructure 820, the client browser 810, user defined security, or the like. The security service 864 may interact with the user profile in the profile file 804 and/or the client browser 810 to create the overall security settings. In an embodiment, the security settings may prevent a user from accessing a game that has security below the overall security settings. In an embodiment, the game infrastructure 820 account manager 868 and transaction module 870 may interact with both the profile file 804 (to get economic profile information) and the game site (to establish the e-commerce for the user at the game site). For example, when the user selects a game in the game guide 130, the request may be passed to the game infrastructure 820. The game infrastructure 820 may contact the game site to retrieve the parameters of the game site e-commerce system. The game infrastructure 820 may then access the profile file 804 to gather the appropriate economic profile 888 information in order to initialize the accounts to be used with the game site.
  • [0127]
    In an embodiment, the transaction module 870 of the gaming server may provide for all the e-commerce management between the user, the gaming application, and other gaming sites. The transaction module 870 may provide services such as user profile tracking, thus providing targeted advertising/promotions to users, game site advertising, an agency system to bring users to a game site, an affiliate system for revenue sharing with game sites, aggregation of game information, a user e-wallet system, merchandizing of game products to users, mining data from gaming application sites for monetizing information, a user subscription system, a certification and rating system for game sites, and the like. The transaction module 870 may manage the paid site information that is presented to a user and may provide money management for the user in the form of a user e-wallet account. The transaction module 870 may track the user's gaming activities to determine the type of game the user plays, the amount of time spent playing, the amount of money spent on a game, and the like. This information may allow the transaction module 870 to present the user with advertisements and gaming opportunities based on past user gaming history and therefore may present a personalized interface for the user.
  • [0128]
    The transaction module 870 may manage receiving of funds for game advertisements and placement of the advertisement on the game application interface. The advertisements may include agency systems that may be used to direct users to certain game sites in return for a fee. The gaming application interface may also include affiliate system links that may be associated with game sites for connecting users to gaming sites or for the forming of online tournaments. The affiliate game sites may pay a fee for the service of directing users to games or the organization of game tournaments using affiliated games.
  • [0129]
    The transaction module 870 may provide for an aggregation of information about a game such as game news, game background, reviews, cheat codes, download information, and the like. This information may be available to a user prior to the user beginning the game. The transaction module 870 may also provide certification and rating information for the game or game sites that may be available in the game guide 130. The game or game site may pay a fee to have its game rated on the gaming application interface. Merchandise related to a particular game or gaming site may be provided to a user through the gaming application interface; the merchandise advertisement may be provided with a fee charged to the merchandise enterprise.
  • [0130]
    The transaction module 870 may provide management of a user e-wallet account system that may allow a user to have accounts with user-defined money limits. The user may be able to set up an e-wallet account; this account may be the account used to pay for games the user is playing. The user may use the e-wallet account instead of paying a game or game site directly by using a personal credit or debit card. This may provide a level of security to the user in paying for gaming activities. There may be a method of adding money to the e-wallet account; the e-wallet account may be associated with the user's credit or debit account. In an embodiment, the user may be able to set maximum and minimum money levels for the e-wallet account and may authorize the transaction module 870 to charge the user's credit or debit card to maintain the set levels.
  • [0131]
    The transaction module 870 may provide for a subscription system for users to establish a player profile to be used when playing online games. The subscription may allow the user to set up a personalized gaming profile and may also allow the setup of the user's e-wallet account. The subscription may provide, for a fee, the user with a set amount of gaming time on predetermined games, a certain amount of gaming time on any available game, or similar management of gaming.
  • [0132]
    The transaction module 870 may also mine data from the gaming application for the monetization of available user information. Information may be used to increase billing rates to advertisers, provide mailing lists, get new advertisers, establish new affiliations, or the like.
  • [0133]
    In an embodiment, the game hosting module 872 of the game infrastructure 820 may be used to contact other users to indicate the forming of a game. The game hosting module 872 may maintain a database of users searching for a certain type of game and may make users aware of the interest in a game through the game guide 130. For example, a user may elect to organize a hosted game, and the game hosting module may notify all the interested users that a user has elected to organize a game. In this example, the game hosting module 872 may provide all of the necessary game infrastructure to organize the game and maintain the game while it is active. In an embodiment, the game hosting module 872 may save the hosted game into the game index 102 to be available for future game searches by the search engine 122. In an embodiment, the user, through the game guide 130, may select to either join an existing game or to host a game; the hosted game may either be a game that was set up in advance or an ad hoc game that may form in real time.
  • [0134]
    As shown in FIG. 8, the gaming server 802 may interface with other components of the game applications, including the profile file 804, the game index 102, the client browser 810 and the sponsors 812.
  • [0135]
    The gaming server 802 may interface with the profile file 804 for information about the user's gaming preferences, economic profile 888 (e.g. e-commerce history), gaming history, accounts (e.g. e-wallet), and the like. In an embodiment, the gaming server 802 may interface to the profile file 804 through the network 800 using connections 824 and 832. In this case, the profile file 804 may be a separately maintained remote file server. In another embodiment, the gaming server 802 may directly interface with the profile file 804 through connection 842. In this embodiment, the profile file 804 may be connected to the gaming server 802 through a LAN, WAN, or the like and may act as a local device for the gaming server 802. In an embodiment, there may be a plurality of profile files 804 that may maintain information for each individual user, or there may be one profile file 804 to maintain the information for all the users.
  • [0136]
    The gaming server 802 may interface with the game index 102 to either provide a game listing as a result of a search or to get game information as part of a user search. In an embodiment, the gaming server 802 may interface with the game index 102 through the network 800 using connections 824 and 828. In this case, the game index 102 may be a separately maintained remote file server. In another embodiment, the gaming server 802 may directly interface with the game index 102 through connection 834. In this embodiment, the game index 102 may be connected to the gaming server 802 through a LAN, WAN, or the like and may act as a local device for the gaming server 802. In an embodiment, there may be a plurality of game indexes 102 that may maintain information for each individual user, or there may be one game index 102 to maintain the information for all the users.
  • [0137]
    The gaming server 802 may interface with the client browser 810 to provide the user with an interface to the gaming search, the game hosting, and the like. In an embodiment, the gaming server 802 may connect to the client browser 810 using connections 824 and 830. In this embodiment, the user may use the client browser 810 to access the network 800 and connect to the gaming server 802; the game guide 130 may be a plug-in application for the client browser 810. In another embodiment, the game guide 130 may be directly associated with the gaming server 802 using connection 844. In this embodiment, the game guide 130 may be a local device connected to the gaming server 802; the connection may be provided by a LAN, WAN, or the like. In this case, the client browser may be used to access the gaming server 802 and may use the gaming server 802 to access all the aspects of the gaming application. In this embodiment, the gaming server 802 may act as a portal to the client browser 810 where the user may request game searches, maintain personal preferences, play games, or the like.
  • [0138]
    The gaming server 802 may also access sponsors 812 for game hosting information, promotional information, game searches, and the like. The gaming server 802 may be connected to the sponsors 812 through the network 800 using connections 824 and 848. There may be a plurality of sponsors 812 that are connected to the gaming server 802; each sponsor may connect through a connection similar to 824 and 848.
  • [0139]
    It should be understood that as the gaming server 802 is searching, matching, or the like, it may interact with any of the above described components to provide a seamless interface to the user. It should also be understood that any of the sub-components of the gaming server 802 may be able to use any of the connections to the above described components. Therefore the search engine 122, the match engine 104, and the game interface 820 may have access to the profile file 804, game index 102, client browser 810, sponsors 812, or the like.
  • [0140]
    As depicted in FIG. 8, the profile file 804 may provide storage access to user profiles to other game application components such as the gaming server 802, client browser 810, game guide 130, and the like. In an embodiment, the profile file 804 may be a remote file server that may connect through the network 800 to the other connected components. In an embodiment, the profile file 804 may be directly connected to the gaming server 802 through a connection 842 or to the client browser 810 through another connection 840. The direct connections may be provided by a LAN, WAN, or the like. The profile file 804 may also be incorporated into either the gaming server 802 or the client browser 810 as a local device. In an embodiment, if the profile file 804 is incorporated into the gaming server 802, it may store profiles on a plurality of users. In an embodiment, if the profile file 804 is incorporated into the client browser 810, it may store only a single user's profile data.
  • [0141]
    The profile file 804 may store the user's personal profile, game history, or game account information. The profile file 804 may also contain the economic profile service 888 that may maintain the user's e-commerce and e-wallet information on the profile file 804.
  • [0142]
    In an embodiment, the economic profile service 888 may interface with the gaming server 802 game infrastructure 820 to provide a user's e-commerce and e-wallet information at the request of the game infrastructure 820 account manager 868 or transaction module 870. The economic profile service 888 may maintain e-commerce and e-wallet information on the profile file 804; this information may be updated continually, based on the user's gaming activities. In an embodiment, the economic profile service 888 may monitor the game infrastructure 820 transaction module for the user's spending while playing a game. For example, the user may join a high stakes poker game with stakes that are higher than previously played; this may modify the user's economic profile. In an embodiment, the economic profile may be modified based on the user's gaming activities or may be modified by the user. The user may be able to modify the economic profile before a game, during a game, or after a game.
  • [0143]
    In an embodiment, the profile file 804 user profile may interface with the gaming server 802 to store information about a user's gaming preferences. For example, when a user creates a search using the search engine 122, the search engine 122 may update the information about the user's game preferences. The changes to the preferences may be based on the player's searching for a new type of game, repeatedly searching for the same type of game, or the like.
  • [0144]
    In another embodiment, the profile file 804 user profile may interface with the game guide 130 to store information about the user's game selection. For example, the profile file 804 may already store information about the type of poker game the user likes to play, but if the user starts to select a particular poker game site more often, indicating a preference for the site, the user profile may be updated by the game guide 130 to indicate the preference for this type of poker game. With the user profile updated, this preferred poker game site may be presented with a high recommendation on the game guide listing when the user next searches for a poker game.
  • [0145]
    The profile file 804 may also store game history information about the games the user may play. This information may include the number of times a game was played, the length of time the game was played (e.g. shortest time, longest time, and/or average time), a high score, whether the user is still an active player in a game, or the like. In an embodiment, the game history file may be updated by the game infrastructure 820 game hosting module when the user has finished playing a game; a completed game may be either a user playing to completion or the user leaving the game early.
  • [0146]
    The player history tracker may update the user's profile file 804 by tracking the user's gaming activities over time. The player history tracker may monitor the user's game related activities such as games played, game products purchased, game advertisements viewed, or the like; it may update the preferences based on these activities. The player history tracker may monitor game parameters such as game played, length of time played, game final score, quality of players in the game, number of players in the game, or the like.
  • [0147]
    The user profile file 804 and history tracker may provide information on the user's past gaming behavior. These files may be influenced by the type of game the user plays, the gaming sites the user visits, gaming reviews viewed, gaming products purchased, and the like.
  • [0148]
    In an embodiment, the game history may be accessed by the search engine 122 before a game search is performed on the game index 102 in order to retrieve the user's most recent gaming search. The search engine 122 may then use the game history as part of the search of the game index 102.
  • [0149]
    In an embodiment, the game history may interface with the game guide 130 to provide a history of games played in order to rank games in the game guide 130; the game rank may be provided in addition to the game listing.
  • [0150]
    In an embodiment, the game history may interface with the match engine 104 for determining whether a game will remain in the game listing. As part of the match engine 104 recommendation service 858, the game history may be accessed to provide a match with the user's most recent preferences among games. The recommendation service 858 may use the user's game history as one of the parameters for filtering the game listing.
  • [0151]
    As depicted in FIG. 8, the client browser 810 may be an interface by which the user may access the other aspects of the game application described herein. The client browser 810 may be any browser capable of interfacing with the network 800. The client browser 810 may be on a user's computer device that may be connected to the network 800. The client browser 810 may have components of the game application as a plug-in or as an associated program that may executed by the client browser 810.
  • [0152]
    In an embodiment, the game application depicted in FIG. 8 may include a client/server application with the client browser 810 associated with the game guide 130 component, where the game guide 130 may be a user interface that presents a listing of the available games to the user. In the client/server application the client browser 810 may access the gaming server 802 for access to the search engine 122, match engine 104, game infrastructure 820, profile file 804, or game index 102.
  • [0153]
    In an embodiment, the game application depicted in FIG. 8 may be a complete client application with the client browser 810 being associated with all game application components. For example, the client browser 810 may include the game guide 130, search engine 122, match engine 104, and the game infrastructure 820. As a complete client application, the profile file 804 and game index 102 may also be included in the client browser 810.
  • [0154]
    In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 8, a client/server embodiment is shown with the client browser 810 associated with the game guide 130 and with the game server 802 associated with the search engine 122, match engine 104, and the game infrastructure 820. The client browser 810 may interface with the other game application components using the network 800.
  • [0155]
    For example, the client browser 810 may interface with the gaming server 802 through the network 800 using connections 830 and 824. By interfacing with the gaming server 802 the client browser 810 may have access to any of the gaming server 802 components such as the search engine 122, match engine 104, or game infrastructure 820.
  • [0156]
    In an embodiment, the client browser 810 may have access to the profile file 804 through the network 800 using connections 830 and 832.
  • [0157]
    In an embodiment, the client browser 810 may have access to the game index 102 through the network 800 using connections 830 and 828.
  • [0158]
    In an embodiment, the client browser 810 may have access to the sponsors 812 through the network 800 using connections 830 and 848. There may be a plurality of sponsors 812 connected to the network 800; the client browser 810 may connect to any of the sponsors 812 using connections similar to 830 and 848.
  • [0159]
    In an embodiment, the client browser 810 may be directly connected to the game application components by either a LAN, WAN, or the like. For example, the client browser 810 may connect to the profile file 804 with connection 840, the gaming server 802 with connection 844, the game index 102 with connection 838, or the like. There may not be any direct connection between the client browser 810 and the sponsors 812.
  • [0160]
    The client browser 810 may provide a user interface for a number of the game application components that may allow the user to navigate to components that permit user interaction. The user interactions may be searches, preference modification, account modification, or the like. Using the client browser 810, the user may be able to access the search engine 122 search user interface to initiate a game search as described above. The user may also be able to access the e-commerce and e-wallet files of the profile file 804 by accessing the game infrastructure 820 account manager 868 or the transaction module 870. The user may be able to transfer money to accounts, manage credit/debit card associations to the e-wallet, set gaming monetary limits, and the like. Using the client browser 810, the user also may be able to access the profile file 804 directly to make these changes. Using the client browser 810, the user may be able to access any of the game portal capabilities of the gaming server 802 such as game hosting, sponsor links, gaming advertisements, gaming merchandise, or the like.
  • [0161]
    In an embodiment, the client browser 810 may be associated with the game guide 130, a user interface that may present game choices to the user. As shown in FIG. 8, the game guide 130 may include sub-components such as game results 874, advertisements 878, links 880, sponsor links 882, query capabilities 884, or the like. These sub-components may be viewed by the user as one large user interface or may be viewed as a plurality of screens and menus to be navigated.
  • [0162]
    The game guide 130 may include a user interface where the final game search results 874, after searching and matching, are displayed. The game guide 130 may present a listing of games to the user that may include information about match quality, game name, game description, game rating, game schedule, game level, game cost, and the like. The user may be able to sort the game listing by any of the provided columns of information. For example, the user may wish to view the games ordered by the games rating or by the schedule time. The user may be able to sort by more than one column in order to view the games in the user's preferred order. The game guide 130 may also present the available games by medium type such as Internet game, mobile game, cable game, and the like.
  • [0163]
    The game guide 130 may provide a match quality value that may be a result of the combined information from the user search, the matching layers, user profile, and the like. The match quality value may present a rating such as a number rating, letter rating, star rating, or other rating method to indicate a range varying from excellent to poor.
  • [0164]
    The game guide 130 may provide a hyperlink 880 to any of the games listed in the game guide. To initiate a game, the user may only have to click on the desired game hyperlink 880 to open the game. In an embodiment, the game may open as a separate instance, leaving the gaming application running to allow the user access to any information in the gaming application.
  • [0165]
    The game guide 130 may also allow the user to filter the games listed to show only games or types of games in which the user is interested. The game guide 130 may provide preset filters such as similar skill levels, game cost, time of game, and the like. The user may also be able to enter a custom filter requirement.
  • [0166]
    The game guide 130 may also allow the user to arrange a game in an ad hoc manner. The user may be able to pick the game to play and to invite other users to play the game. The user may provide a time for the game to begin and may define game parameters for the invited users.
  • [0167]
    The game guide 130 may allow the user to modify the user's profile file 804, which may result in the game listing being refreshed and may produce differences in the game listing results.
  • [0168]
    In an embodiment, the game guide 130 may include among the game results 874, for example, the final filtered and matched game listing that is presented to the user. As discussed above, the user may have started the game result process by creating a search using the search engine 122. The search engine 122 may create a listing of games matching the user's search request and pass the list to the matching engine 104 for matching to the user's game preference. The resulting game listing may be displayed as a matched/filtered game list in the result 874 table in the game guide 130. The gaming result 874 table may allow the user to select a game to be played by selecting a game link; this process is further discussed below.
  • [0169]
    In an embodiment, the game guide 130 may include advertisements 878 that may be displayed as associated or not associated with games in the results 874 table. The game guide 130 may manage advertisements 878 displayed by sponsors 812. The advertisements 878 from the sponsors 812 may be a result of a sponsored game in the result 874 table or may be sponsor links 882 to advertise future games to be played. The advertisements 878 may be in addition to any sponsor information or links that may be displayed on the client browser 810 through the connection with the gaming server 802.
  • [0170]
    In an embodiment, the game guide 130 may contain links 880 to games. The links 880 may be integral to the game listing in the result 874 table. In an embodiment, the game listing may be passed to the game guide 130 from the matching engine 104; the game guide 130 may create the result 874 table by combining the game listing with the gaming links 880. The game links 880 may allow the user to navigate directly to the game site by selecting the game link 880.
  • [0171]
    In an embodiment, the game guide 130 may contain sponsor links 882 that may link to sponsored games or to sponsors' game sites. The sponsors 812 may pay a fee for the sponsor links 882 to be associated with the game guide 130. The sponsor links 882 may allow direct access to the sponsor games or sponsor site. In an embodiment, the sponsor link 882 may be incorporated into the result 874 table. If a game in the game listing is a sponsored game, the result 874 table may provide a sponsor link 882 in the result 874 table in addition to the game link.
  • [0172]
    In an embodiment, the user may be able to query, sort, or filter the game guide 130 game result 874 table. The game result 874 table may be presented to the user with a number of columns, such as ranking, number of users playing the game, game cost, game time of day, or the like. The user may be able to query, sort, or filter the result 874 table to view the result 874 table in the order that is of interest to the user. For example, the user may be able to query the result 874 table about all games that start after 8 pm and cost less than $20 to play; the result may be that the matching games may be displayed to the user. In a similar manner, the user may be able to indicate columns to be sorted and the order in which the columns are to be sorted.
  • [0173]
    As depicted in FIG. 8, the game index 102 may be a file that contains a listing of all the games that may be of interest to the user; the game index 102 may be a database, a table, a relational database, a flat file, an ASCII file, an XML file, or the like. The game index 102 may be a searchable file that the search engine 122 may search in response to a user's game search request. The user may access the search engine 122 using the client browser 810 to input a search request. The search engine 122 may then connect to the game index 102 to search for games matching the user's game search.
  • [0174]
    In an embodiment, the game index 102 may be a separately maintained file server that may connect to the other game application components either through a network 800 connection or by direct connection. The game index 102 may be accessed by other components through the network 800 using connection 828 and the network connection of the other components, such as connections 824, 830, or 832.
  • [0175]
    In an embodiment, the game index 102 may be incorporated into either the gaming server 802 or the client browser 810; the incorporation may be a connection by LAN, WAN, or the like. The game index 102 may connect directly to the gaming server 802 using connection 834 or to the client browser 810 using connection 838.
  • [0176]
    As discussed above, the search engine 122 network crawler 704 may store the game search results in the game index 102; the stored games may be a result of the network crawler 704 searching among known gaming sites for games of interest to the user as defined by the user's profile and gaming history. For example, the search engine 122 may connect to the game index 102 to search for games matching the user's search request.
  • [0177]
    In an embodiment, the game index 102 may have housekeeping capabilities to remove games from the game index 102 when the user's preferences in the profile file 804 change. In an embodiment, a user may use the client browser 810 to access and modify the user's profile stored in the profile file 804. The change in the user's preferences may send a request to the game index 102 to remove games from the game index 102 that do not match the user's preferences.
  • [0178]
    The online game index 102 may provide an aggregation of all gaming sites that may be available to users as defined by their profiles. The users' profile may be data files that may include games that have been played, game network sites visited, advertisements viewed, game products purchased, or the like. The profile of an individual user may be a file in which the user defines the type of games that the user prefers to play. The profile file 804 may be updated over time based on the user's gaming activities. An online gaming site may be any available game that can be accessed by the user's computer device through a network connection (e.g. Internet, LAN, WAN, or the like). The available games may exist on a user's own computer device, on a network 800, or on a connected console game such as Xbox, Playstation, Game Cube, or the like. Any game that is accessible from a user's computer device may be considered an online game and therefore may be in the online game index 102.
  • [0179]
    The online game index 102 may provide a listing of all the games that meet the user's gaming, time, and cost profiles or preferences. The online game index 102 may be a searchable database, table, text file, relational database, XML file, or the like. The online game index 102 may consist of a listing of the games or game sites that may have games in which the user may be interested.
  • [0180]
    The online game index 102 may continually update the game listing by interfacing with the player behavior system 854, player profile file 804, and player history data. The online game index 102 may be initialized with a user defined set of parameters, games, network sites, or the like that the user may prefer to play. The online game index 102 may also initialize the online game index 102 by scanning the user's computer device for previously played games or network sites visited. Once the online game index 102 has been initialized, the online game index 102 may incorporate a network crawler 704 to search the user's computer device network connection. The online game index 102 may use the initialized information about the user to begin the search for online gaming that may meet the user's profile.
  • [0181]
    The process of updating the online game index 102 may be ongoing; the online game index 102 can be continually updated as the network crawler 704 finds new network sites and online games. The network crawler 704 may find new games by discovering a new game network link on a network site previously found or may look for new games when the user's profile is updated. The player's profile file 888 may be updated based on games the user has played, game sites the user has visited, game advertisements viewed, game products purchased, or the like. The user may also revise the profile file 804 to include a new type of game or a new variation of a game the user already plays. The online game index 102 may continually review the user profile file 804 for updates; when updates are detected, the online game index 102 may add the new game information to the network crawler 704 for additional game searches on the user's computer device connected to a network. The network crawler 704 may also search for a game to be added to the online game index 102 if the search request from the user does not match any previously requested game or game type.
  • [0182]
    Games catalogued within the online game index 102 may be accessed by using the search engine 122. The search engine 122 may initiate a search for user-requested games within the known games of the online game index 102. For example, the user may interact with the search engine 122 user interface 852 to perform a search of the online game index 102 to find a game matching one of the user's search requirements. The search engine 122 may interact and retrieve information from the player profile file 804 and may combine this information with the user's search request to find the games which best match the user. The user may be able to provide input into at least one search field of the search user interface 852 as a natural language text string, a game name, a game type, a game player type (e.g. single player or multi-player), or the like to begin the search for a game. The search engine 122 may use the natural language translator for converting the natural language request into a search string that may be compatible with the online game index 102. The user may be able to input information into more than one of the search fields to provide a more specific game search or may enter information into only one search field to possibly provide the most generic game search.
  • [0183]
    The search engine 122 may search the online game index 102 using a plurality of search types such as the natural language search, the semantic search, the contextual search, or the like. The search engine 122 may perform a search on only one search field or may combine multiple search fields to provide the broadest game search for the user. The user may provide an indication of the priority of the matching sequence when more than one search field is entered. For example, the user may provide a number or letter sequence to indicate which is the first, second, or third search field to use in the game search.
  • [0184]
    The search engine 122 may also search for affiliate or agency paid games, and the affiliate or agency may pay a fee for the affiliate or agency game to be added to the user's search results.
  • [0185]
    The search engine 122 may provide a user interface 852 for entering information to search the online game index 102. The search engine 122 may also be able to search the user's computer device connected network for games meeting the search parameters. This network search performed by the search engine 122 may be instead of or in combination with the search of the online game index 102.
  • [0186]
    In certain embodiments, the gaming application may provide the game portal 500 that may provide the connections to a network 800. In an embodiment, the portal 500 may provide access to network links such as network gaming, gaming information, gaming reviews, cheat codes, chat rooms, gaming products, gaming product information and news, paid advertising, or the like.
  • [0187]
    The gaming portal 500 may access the player profile file 804 to track the user's gaming behavior; this may allow the game portal 500 to activate or deactivate different links to match the user's profile. The portal may be able to dynamically load and build network pages to present to the user based on the media type with which the user is connected such as broadband access, mobile access, or the like.
  • [0188]
    The gaming portal 500 may contain a meta-menu that may allow users to maintain access to the gaming application site information and functions while playing a game at another site. The meta-menu may be shown as a top level menu over the game, as a window on the game, as a popup menu with a certain key press, or the like.
  • [0189]
    It will be appreciated by skilled artisans that embodiments of the online gaming applications described herein are compatible with any number of online games that users may wish to play. Online games compatible with these gaming applications may be played for a fee or may be free, depending on the game site and game complexity. Online games compatible with these gaming applications may be single player games that may have the user trying to attain a high score or pitting the user against the computer. Other online games compatible with these gaming applications may be multiplayer games that may have a significant number of players from around the world playing at once. Online games compatible with these gaming applications may include card games, board games, word games, mobile games, action games, role playing games, sports, strategy/tactical games, arcade games, simulation games, and the like.
  • [0190]
    Online card games compatible with these gaming applications may range from free child-type games to high stakes poker and blackjack games. Online card games compatible with these gaming applications may be single player games such as solitaire or multiplayer games with many players world wide. Online card games compatible with these gaming applications may include spades, canasta, poker, solitaire, hearts, blackjack, bridge, gin, go fish, pinochle, or the like.
  • [0191]
    Poker may have many different variations that may be played online such as Texas Hold'em, 5 Card Stud, 7 Card Stud, Omaha, Chinese, 5 Card Draw, Lowball, Crazy Pineapple, and the like, any and all of which may be compatible with these gaming applications. Online poker games compatible with these gaming applications may be played for free or may also be played on large game sites with many players for various stakes, and each game may be defined by the specific gambling stakes.
  • [0192]
    Solitaire may have many different variations that may be played online such as Klondike, Freecell, Spider, Golf, Pyramid, Aces and Kings, Cruel, Yukon, or the like, any and all of which may be compatible with these gaming applications. Solitaire games compatible with these gaming applications are often played for free but may also be played for a fee.
  • [0193]
    Online board games compatible with these gaming applications include computer versions of typical board games such as chess, dominoes, backgammon, Mah Jong, bingo, checkers, go, or the like. These online board games may be free plays, but some of the board games such as chess, backgammon, go, or the like may be for fee and may be played in tournament play.
  • [0194]
    Online word games compatible with these gaming applications may typically be played for free and may include word jumbles, scrabble, crossword puzzles, or the like.
  • [0195]
    Mobile games compatible with these gaming applications may be versions of online games formatted for mobile computer devices such as PDAs, cell phones, or the like. The mobile games may have a restricted selection of games based on the required small format but may include solitaire, dominoes, hearts, arcade games, action games, card games, or the like. These games may be played for free or as a fee based game. Mobile games compatible with these gaming applications may be played as downloaded games or may be online games using a mobile network connection.
  • [0196]
    Action games compatible with these gaming applications may be a type of game that a user may play in a simulated environment against a computer, usually attempting to avoid obstacles and collect bonuses. The action games typically may have an overall objective to achieve such as “capturing the bad guy.” Action games may include Aliens vs. Predator, America's Army: Special Forces, the Battlefield series, Call of Duty, Deer Hunter, Descent 3, Devastation, the Half-life series, Halo, Jedi Knight, the Medal of Honor series, Quake, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, SWAT 4, the Soldier of Fortune series, Star Trek, Star Wars, the Tribes series, the Unreal Tournament series, Vietcong, the Wolfenstein series, or the like.
  • [0197]
    Role playing games compatible with these gaming applications may have a user assume a character of the game and may join other characters to complete a particular objective. The user may typically play with other players that also have assumed roles within the game. Depending on the game, the other players may either be on the same side as or different side from the user. The characters of the role playing games may have predefined character traits, or a user may be able to enhance the character's traits by continued playing. A user may be able to save a character's traits and later join a game in progress using the saved character traits. Online role playing games may include Baldur's Gate, Deus Ex, Lionheart, Neverwinter Nights, or the like.
  • [0198]
    Online sports games compatible with these gaming applications may be simulations of real life sports and may try to closely simulate the real life game or may be an exaggeration of the real life sports game. A user may typically control a key person, a vehicle, or the like in the online sports game and try to beat a computerized competitor, or the user may be matched against other players controlling another key person, vehicle, or the like. Online sports games may include the Deer Hunter series, the Dirt Track Racing series, F1 Challenge, High Heat Baseball, the Links series, the Midnight Outlaw series, Midtown Madness, MotoGP, Motocross, Madness, the NASCAR series, the NFL Fever series, Need for Speed, Pro Bass Fishing, Tony Hawk Pro Skater, or the like.
  • [0199]
    Online strategy and tactical games compatible with these gaming applications may be games with large scope that may be designed to require strategy over fast pace. These games may require a user to command many different aspects of the game, such as commanding an entire army, to achieve an overall objective. The user may be required to take actions toward the objective while other users or the computer may make similar actions to stop the objective from being completed. Online strategy and tactical games may include Age of Empires, Age of Wonders, Army Men, Axis & Allies, Civilization, Close Combat, Command & Conquer, Conquest, Empire Earth, Kohan, MechCommander, Medieval, Myth III, Railroad Tycoon, Real War, Rise of Nations, Soldiers, Star Trek, Star Wars, Stronghold, Total Annihilation, or the like.
  • [0200]
    Online arcade games compatible with these gaming applications may be intended to simulate arcade games that may be found in a real arcade. These games may typically be played as a single player, but the games may track the high scores of players over time. Arcade games may include Breakout, Pac man, Pinball, or the like.
  • [0201]
    Online simulation games compatible with these gaming applications may intend to provide activity as close as possible to a real experience. These games may simulate controls and communications very similar to the controls and communications of the real activity. These games may try to simulate planes, cars, ships, or the like. Online simulation games may include Combat Flight Simulator, the Jane's series, Microsoft Flight Simulator series, Race Driver 2, or the like.
  • [0202]
    The elements depicted in flow charts and block diagrams throughout the figures imply logical boundaries between the elements. However, according to software or hardware engineering practices, the depicted elements and the functions thereof may be implemented as parts of a monolithic software structure, as standalone software modules, or as modules that employ external routines, code, services, and so forth, or any combination of these, and all such implementations are within the scope of the present disclosure. Thus, while the foregoing drawings and description set forth functional aspects of the disclosed systems, no particular arrangement of software for implementing these functional aspects should be inferred from these descriptions unless explicitly stated or otherwise clear from the context.
  • [0203]
    Similarly, it will be appreciated that the various steps identified and described above may be varied, and that the order of steps may be adapted to particular applications of the techniques disclosed herein. All such variations and modifications are intended to fall within the scope of this disclosure. As such, the depiction and/or description of an order for various steps should not be understood to require a particular order of execution for those steps, unless required by a particular application, or explicitly stated or otherwise clear from the context.
  • [0204]
    The methods or processes described above, and steps thereof, may be realized in hardware, software, or any combination of these suitable for a particular application. The hardware may include a general-purpose computer and/or dedicated computing device. The processes may be realized in one or more microprocessors, microcontrollers, embedded microcontrollers, programmable digital signal processors or other programmable device, along with internal and/or external memory. The processes may also, or instead, be embodied in an application specific integrated circuit, a programmable gate array, programmable array logic, or any other device or combination of devices that may be configured to process electronic signals. It will further be appreciated that one or more of the processes may be realized as computer executable code created using a structured programming language such as C, an object oriented programming language such as C++, or any other high-level or low-level programming language (including assembly languages, hardware description languages, and database programming languages and technologies) that may be stored, compiled or interpreted to run on one of the above devices, as well as heterogeneous combinations of processors, processor architectures, or combinations of different hardware and software.
  • [0205]
    Thus, in one aspect, each method described above and combinations thereof may be embodied in computer executable code that, when executing on one or more computing devices, performs the steps thereof. In another aspect, the methods may be embodied in systems that perform the steps thereof, and may be distributed across devices in a number of ways, or all of the functionality may be integrated into a dedicated, standalone device or other hardware. In another aspect, means for performing the steps associated with the processes described above may include any of the hardware and/or software described above. All such permutations and combinations are intended to fall within the scope of the present disclosure.
  • [0206]
    While the invention has been disclosed in connection with the preferred embodiments shown and described in detail, various modifications and improvements thereon will become readily apparent to those skilled in the art. Accordingly, the spirit and scope of the present invention is not to be limited by the foregoing examples, but is to be understood in the broadest sense allowable by law.
  • [0207]
    All documents referenced herein are hereby incorporated by reference.
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Classifications
U.S. Classification463/42
International ClassificationA63F9/24
Cooperative ClassificationG07F17/32
European ClassificationG07F17/32