Scientists may have come up with the best reason yet to invest in the video game industry.

Though stopping short of calling joystick fanatics addicts, a Canadian research team from Simon Fraser University says games stimulate the same areas of the brain as alcohol and other drugs, Reuters reports.

As far as we know, David Gardner did not factor this information into his Electronic Arts(Nasdaq: ERTS) and Activision(Nasdaq: ATVI)Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

The Priceline Is Right

You know we're living in remarkable times when PCLN) is able to complete a rocky roundtrip that took the online travel specialist from boom to bust and back to boom again. Even though investors pummeled the stock for a 25% loss today, there is still reason to be optimistic about the future.

Yes, the same "name your own price" company that dazzled the market with William Shatner's vocal performances during the dot-com mania before being grounded to penny-stock pulp is back. OK, so maybe it cheated along the way with a reverse stock split, but the important thing is that the company has arrived. And, yes, Priceline has arrived.

Last night the company posted third-quarter earnings of $0.24 a share on a 9% uptick in gross travel bookings. That reversed last year's third-quarter loss. Yet the real nugget here is how well it continues to diversify off its air-travel roots.

The company booked a record 1.6 million hotel nights and 1.1 million car rental days. That represents a more than 40% improvement in those categories over the past year. So while the terminal expansion of discount carriers such as JetBlue(Nasdaq: JBLU) and Southwest(NYSE: LUV) has made Priceline's bargain-priced airfare deals less popular, it has become more proficient in other travel-related areas.

Even the company's mortgage business, which was once ridiculed as an example of "diworsification," had a strong showing as rock-bottom interest rates fueled the home-buying market.

Sensing continued weakness in its airline business, Priceline will be advertising its repositioned airfare services more aggressively over the next couple of quarters. While that kind of warning may alarm investors, it would be wrong for that to overshadow the company's gains in higher-margin offerings.

Yes, Priceline has arrived. The only difference is that the arrival gate has been changed.

Have you made a trek out to our Travel Center yet? Either way, have you ever used Priceline to book your travel? What did you think? Have any other tips to share on bargain flights? All this and more -- in the Cheap Air Fares discussion board. Only on

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Wanted Alive: Microsoft Hackers

Well, we did ask Microsoft(Nasdaq: MSFT) to do something about its security problems. In a rather strange twist today, the company announced a cash bounty for the capture of those who unleashed two bugs on the computer world earlier this year.

If you're able to turn over information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the masterminds behind the MSBlast.A worm and the Sobig virus, you could pocket up to half a million dollars in reward money. The $500,000 is just part of a pool of $5 million the company is setting aside for an "Anti-Virus Reward Program" to aid law enforcement.

Will the program help? "People in the hacking community will turn on one another in a heartbeat," Internet Security Systems' Patrick Gray told CBS MarketWatch. "These folks have few morals, and unlike religious radicals, they have learned materialism."

Microsoft will take some flak for this, because the program is analogous to offering rewards for the capture of outlaws who walk through holes in a fence, rather than fixing the fence itself. But the company has already dedicated itself to fixing the security problems and it's pouring a lot of money into that effort. The reward program will not detract from that process.

All we need now, though, is a "most-wanted hackers" deck of playing cards.

Individuals with information about the MSBlast.A worm or the Sobig virus, or any other worms or viruses, should contact the following international law enforcement agencies:

Quote of Note

"This year I invested in pumpkins. They've been going up the whole month of October and I got a feeling they're going to peak right around January. Then bang! That's when I'll cash in." -- Homer Simpson

Newspapers on a Roll?

First, video was expected to kill the radio star. It didn't. Then the Internet (and before that, TV) was expected to kill off newspapers. It may have done some damage, but newspapers aren't going down without a fight.

After years of mostly declining readership, the average daily circulation for newspapers appears to actually have risen. The Newspaper Association of America, based on data from the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC), has just reported that of 813 papers surveyed, average daily circulation is up by 0.02%. OK, that's not exactly earth-shattering, but any increase is good news in this tough environment.

For the curious among us, here are the top papers, according to average daily circulation, and their increase or decrease in the six months ended Sept. 30, 2003:

1) USA Today, circ. 2,246,996 (+0.07%)
2) The Wall Street Journal, circ. 2,091,062 (+16.1%*)
3) The New York Times, circ. 1,118,565 (+0.5%)
4) The Los Angeles Times, circ. 955,211 (-1.1%)
5) The Washington Post, circ. 732,872 (-1.9%)
6) The New York Daily News, circ. 729,124 (+2.1%)
7) The New York Post, circ. 652,426 (+10.6%)
8) The Chicago Tribune, circ. 613,509 (flat)
9) Newsday (Long Island, N.Y.), circ. 580,069 (+0.2%)
10) The Houston Chronicle, circ. 553,018 (+0.2%)

*The Wall Street Journal's big gain is due to its counting of nearly 300,000 online subscribers. Removing those readers leaves circulation basically flat.

Unfortunately, the news isn't all good. Many papers, including some of the above, have lost readers. And the average Sunday circulation, based on data from 648 newspapers, is down by 0.04%.

What's an investor to do? If you're interested in a newspaper company, you might start by looking for one with increasing numbers. Also, look for newspaper-publishing companies that have other operations that are more profitable and/or growing more quickly. One good example is The Washington Post Co.(NYSE: WPO), which is making the most of its purchase of education company Kaplan, known for its test-preparation services. The Washington Post Co. also owns some television stations, other newspapers, a cable company, and Newsweek magazine.

More newspaper-publishing companies you might investigate include Gannett(NYSE: GCI), The New York Times Co.(NYSE: NYT), Tribune Co.(NYSE: TRB), and Dow Jones & Co.(NYSE: DJ).

If you wish you could read Motley Fool content in your local newspaper, maybe you can. Here's a list of newspapers that carry our nationally syndicated content. If your paper isn't among them, consider giving the business editor a jingle and inviting him or her to look into carrying us.

More Fool News

And for a list of all our stories from today, see our Today's Headlines page.

And Finally

Are your mutual funds under suspicion? Bill Mann identifies nine that are caught up in the latest scandal -- and what you should do if yours is one of them.... Dayana Yochim catalogues the extraordinary lifestyles of the rich and unfamous.... And what's this? Bill Mann is back railing on mutual funds again in "Others" Aren't to Blame." Why isn't the uproar over this scandal as furious as that over Enron and Worldcom?

Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Paul Elliott, Mathew Emmert, Jeff Fischer, Jeff Hwang, Tom Jacobs, LouAnn Lofton, Alyce Lomax, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Dave Marino-Nachison, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Reggie Santiago, Dayana Yochim