The ‘959 patent describes a game console capable of communicating with other game consoles over a network connection. Players on the consoles have the ability to communicate with each other if they purchase a headphone and microphone set. Players also have the ability to mute others during the game.
A game console capable of communicating with other game consoles over a link or network is provided with a headphone and microphone for each player who will engage in voice communication. Verbal communications directed to one or more other players are converted to pulse code modulated (PCM) digital data and are encoded and compressed in real-time, producing data packets that are transmitted to another game console. The compressed data packets are decompressed and decoded, producing PCM data that are converted to an analog signal that drives a headphone of the intended recipient. Players can selectively mute voice communications to and from a specific other player. The PCM data can be encoded in a round-robin fashion that reduces the number of encoders required. A predefined level of computing resources is used for voice communication to avoid aversely affecting the quality of game play.
1. For use with an electronic game played on at least one multiplayer game console, a method for enabling players to verbally communicate in real-time while playing the game, comprising the steps of: (a) providing an audio sensor for at least one player who is using the multiplayer game console, said audio sensor producing an input signal to the game console in response to sound produced by said at least one player; (b) providing at least one sound transducer that is adapted to produce sound audible to another player of the game in response to an output signal; (c) encoding the input signal from the audio sensor to produce an encoded digital signal; (d) conveying the encoded digital signal through a voice channel associated with said other player; (e) decoding the encoded signal in the channel of the other player, to produce the output signal; and (f) providing the output signal to the sound transducer to produce an audible sound corresponding to the sound produced by said one player, so that a verbal communication by said one player is heard by said other player of the game.