Summary:

U.S. Patent No. 4,445,187 (the ‘187 Patent) describes a video game in which the user can talk to a character in a video game. The ‘187 Patent is a continuation of U.S. Patent No. 4,305,131 (the ‘131 Patent), titled Dialog between TV movies and human viewers. Both patents utilize a hand-held speech-recognition device so the user can interact with the characters on screen. A major difference between the two patents is the ‘187 Patent relates to game characters or cartoon characters whereas the ‘187 only relates to human actors.

The game described in the ‘187 Patent has branching storylines. A player will be presented with an option at a given point in the game. Both possibilities link to different storylines saved in the game data. A player will encounter different dialogue and different scenarios based on which option was chosen. The player makes his choice by giving a verbal answer into the speech-recognition device. The hand-held device would display a menu with prompt words. A player could also ask the game character a question or make a side comment by pressing a button on the hand-held. The system would listen for select words to determine how the game character should respond. The game also allowed for multiplayer, but each player needed a hand-held unit so that they could each receive a different prompt.

Abstract:

A video game system by which human viewers conduct simulated voice conversations with game characters or cartoon characters in a branching story game shown on a television screen. The characters and cartoons reply responsively with lip-sync sound to words input by viewers. Different audio and video frames are generated from data memory and video disc to provide one of several alternative replies or alternative actions at each branch point in the game, depending on which words are selected by the viewer. A menu of prompting words is displayed to inform viewers of what words they can use at each branch point. Viewers can input questions or make other remarks by pressing a button next to one of the displayed sentences which causes a recording of the displayed sentence to be played or speech synthesized in lieu of a viewer speaking it. Viewers can chat with simulated images of famous people, call the plays in a ball game, make executive decisions as a king or general, and participate in simulated adventures with interesting game characters who respond to each viewer’s words and answer back responsively.

Illustrative Claim:

1. A video apparatus for simulating a voice conversation between a human viewer of the apparatus and a talking video character, the apparatus comprising: first means for reading video frames from a record carrier means to provide a first video frame sequence associated with a plurality of alternative second video frame sequences; second means for reading video frames from a record carrier means to provide access to at least one of said alternative second video frame sequences before the end of said first video frame sequence; means for displaying said first and second video frame sequences including a simulated image of said talking character accompanied by corresponding voice sounds, thereby providing one side of a simulated voice conversation; means for communicating to said human viewer during said first video frame sequence a plurality of alternative verbal responses corresponding to said alternative second video frame sequences; means for receiving from said human viewer a response signal corresponding to a selected verbal response in said plurality of alternative verbal responses, thereby selecting a corresponding [second] video frame sequence; means for generating voice sounds electronically including words in said selected verbal response, thereby simulating the viewer’s side of the voice conversation; and means for switching at the end of said first video frame sequence between the video frames from said first reading means to the video frames from said second reading means to provide said selected second video frame sequence accompanied by voice sounds corresponding to said selected second video frame sequence, thereby simulating a voice conversation between the talking character and the human viewer.