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Microsoft patents viral gaming plans

New party games suggest further social network plans for Xbox Live

Microsoft has patented a new invite system for Xbox Live which could be used for "viral" gaming similar to Facebook applications, but exclusively on the Xbox 360.

As reported by Siliconera the new patent was registered by director of platform development Gary Hall, previously head of casual developer Carbonated Games.

The concepts are all based around the current party system, with the most basic simply allowing invited friends to invite their own friends, whether they are known to the original party creator or not.

Other examples though describe a travel diary in which each user can fill in an entry and pass it on to their own friends, creating a pyramid scheme style distribution model. Another simple idea involves a "tug of war" where two players attempt to invite more friends than the other to their side.

More game-like variants are based on common party games, such as an icebreaker concept where players write down facts about themselves and others have to guess who they describe. If they guess incorrectly the fact can then be passed on to additional friends.

Additional examples include searching for a common link between otherwise unconnected friends and a variation of board game Taboo where players must guess a phrase one word at a time.

The patent is the second this week to give insight into Microsoft's ongoing plans for Xbox Live, with an earlier submission describing a GameFAQs style user-created help system. As with any patent though there is no indication as to when the concepts described will be implemented, if at all.

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