U.S. Patent no. 10,279,268: Extensible video game time limiter

Issued May 7, 2019, to Kenneth Mark Woog
Priority Date September 8, 2015

U.S. Patent No. 10,279,268 (the ‘268 Patent) relates to parental control features for video games. Parental controls can be used to enforce time limits for children playing video games. Children traditionally are not very good judges of the time they have left and this can be disruptive for many multiplayer games if a time limit were to suddenly force a player out of a game. The ‘268 Patent describes a system that will allow for limited extensions of playtime without disruption of the game in progress. During the ending portions of this time limit the child is notified via on-screen warnings, and this is the only time in which extensions can be requested. This also makes the child more actively aware of their remaining time and makes it easier for them to avoid starting another game if their time is limited. The length of extensions and the total number of extensions can be configured specifically for the needs of the game being played.

A video gaming system includes a motherboard with video display output, a USB and video switching board and a single board computer. The single board computer connects to the front panel power and reset switches, the switching board and the motherboard power switch input. Upon user input to the software program running on the single board computer, a limitations database is accessed. If time is allowed, the program powers the motherboard and switches the USB keyboard and video outputs to the motherboard. During the last minutes of allowed time, the program periodically flashes the display warning the user and, through power and reset switch presses, a time extension can be requested. If allowed, according to the database, use time is extended by the predefined setting. Otherwise time runs out normally and the motherboard is powered off and the USB and video circuits switched back to the single board computer.

Illustrative Claim:
1. A method for monitoring and allowing a qualified request for preset time extensions to a preset time limit for use of a video gaming system, the method comprising:
a. receiving from a specified user a request to power up and use a the video gaming system on an existing digitally programmed operating system of an electronic device configured for playing video games communicating with a separately programmable video gaming time control system, the request being made through a user login input from a display of a screen for user login provided by a program running on the programmable video gaming time control system, wherein the programmable video gaming time control system which comprises a single board computer having a microprocessor housed within a locked enclosure inaccessible to the specified user.