Looking for Group Expo Coming in June 2010!

There’s been a fan event that has been sorely lacking in our industry. We have Penny Arcade expo which is a great general gaming event and there’s Comic-con, which covers a portion of the gaming industry. GenCon also has a side show for gaming, but nothing really focuses on the special needs of the MMO player. A lot of games hold their individual events, but just because a person plays one game doesn’t mean they wouldn’t like to socialize with others playing other games, right?

So I’m very excited to be involved in the Looking for Group Expo. It is going to be in June 2010 in Minneapolis. It will be a celebration of the MMO gamer and will be a lot of fun! We’ll have events that cater to pretty much every type of MMO gamer, whether you are an achiever, a socializer, an explorer or a killer, or a mix of all these types. (For the record, when I took the test, I got 0% killer. Crazy, huh?)

So stay tuned to this site for more news on this exciting event.

Jack Thompson: 27 of 31 Misconduct Charges Recommended By Judge

If you’ve been reading this site for any length of time then you know I’m not a fan of Jack Thompson at all. Heck, for that matter, if you read any gaming site on the net you’ll probably find nothing but people who hate Jack Thompson because of his extreme war against the videogame industry. Well it seems that Thompson haters might be getting their wish soon in seeing the lawyer disbarred, as a judge presiding over his case finds that he should be held accountable for 27 of his 31 misconduct charges. Ouch! Destructoid has up more information on the case.

Top 5 Things I Learned From Videogames

It’s true that you can learn a great deal of stuff from playing videogames. For instance, I’ve learned that you can get money off the corpses of small animals you kill in the wild. I also learned that you can survive a hail of bullets by simply resting for a few seconds. Okay, so none of that’s really possible or true, but in the 1up.com article they do list five things that you can learn from videogames.

Assault Heroes 2: “Duck and Cover” Hat Giveaway

Assault Heroes Contest

We here at Killer Betties - thanks to Assault Heroes 2, Sierra Online, and fortyseven communications - are happy to announce a new contest called the ‘Assault Heroes 2: “Duck and Cover” Hat Giveaway’ where you can win one of five Assault Heroes 2 caps. To win all you have to do is answer the following question:

“Which fictional character would you most like to play Assault Heroes 2 Co-op mode with and why?”

The contest will last from May 14, 2008 until May 21, 2008 - only one entry per person.

In order to win, send an email to contests[at]killerbetties.com with your answer to the question, as well as your name, and shipping address. We will then pick the 5 best answers and those winners will then receive one of the five hats. We look forward to hearing who you’d like to play with!

Visit the official site for more info on the game

Zero Punctuation: Mailbag Showdown

I like to think my reviews spot-on and I tell the truth how I see it when it comes to game reviews. I’m sure I could be more critical or sarcastic, but I’ll leave that to Yahtzee - the writer for Zero Punctuation - who I think is absolutely the best videogame reviewer in the business. This week, changing things up a little, he’s decided to answer some reader emails about his recent review of Super Smash Bros. Brawl…and boy is he rough on them. Ah, just the way I like it. Watch the hilarious video.

UK Mum: DS Turned My Kids into Monsters

Should we blame the government? Or blame society? Or should we blame the images on TV? No, blame videogames…blame videogames. It seems that no matter where you look there is always someone claiming videogames are the downfall of our civilization and are the reason behind all of the world’s woes. The latest story coming out has one UK mom claiming about how the Nintendo DS is turning her kids into monsters and making them dysfunctional.

From the article:

The Daily Mail serves up a rather bizarre video game bash piece this morning. Journalist and English mum Rosie Millard (left) writes that the Nintendo DS, of all things, turned her family dysfunctional:

The ‘toy’ caused endless rows, sessions of screaming and increasingly regular parental punishments… What is constructive about playing football on a tiny screen, or washing a virtual dog, or watching a hideous pink pony trot around a pink palace decorated with shells?

…Our Nintendo had taken the guise of a small but toxic drug which, little by little, was poisoning my children…

I have first-hand evidence that using a Nintendo turns my delightful, curious and funny children into argumentative demons full of aggression, wholly uninterested in anything apart from playing, and then playing some more.

Read the full article over at Game Politics

Glenn Beck: Video Game Bloggers Are “Losers”

Sigh, I’m feeling so depressed today. I woke up in a funk already this morning, went cruising around trying to find some interesting news, and the next thing I know I’m stumbling across someone calling me - and all videogame bloggers - a loser. That really hurts my feelings! Okay, not really, because truth be told I’d never heard of Glenn Beck before he started saying stupid stuff anyways. So what has got Mr. Beck so angry with videogame bloggers? Game Politics has the story.

PopCap Launches Mother’s Day Promotion Benefiting Leading Breast Cancer Organization

PopCap Games, the leading developer and publisher of casual games, announced that beginning today and continuing through May 11, 2008, the company will honor Mother’s Day by donating 30% of the price of each game sold on its website to Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, the global leader in the fight to end breast cancer forever. The monetary goal of the Mother’s Day fund-raising drive is $100,000 – and if that goal is met, all consumers who participated (by purchasing one or more games) will receive a free gift from PopCap. The promotion is site-wide, with the main informational page located at http://www.popcap.com/promos/mothersday/?cid=mom10019.

More After The Jump

“For more than 25 years, Susan G. Komen for the Cure has been on a mission to end breast cancer forever,” said Katrina McGhee, vice president of marketing at Komen for the Cure. “Partners such as PopCap are an integral part of that mission, helping us reach millions of consumers with life-saving breast health messages and raising funds that support breast cancer research and community health programs.”

“For this year’s Mother’s Day promotion, we wanted to make a significant contribution to a cause that relates directly to mothers, and this seemed like an ideal way to do that,” said Ben Rotholtz, vice president of marketing for PopCap. “Susan G. Komen for the Cure is dedicated to finding a cure for breast cancer, which obviously affects many mothers and their families. If the contribution we make saves even one life down the road, it will be a success in our eyes.”

The promotion is automated from the customer’s standpoint; they pay the standard price of $9.95 to $19.95 per game, and thirty percent of that purchase price is directed to the charity. Even gift certificates purchased during the promotion will apply. PopCap will reward all participating customers with a free gift if the goal of $100,000 in contributions to the charity is achieved. The promotion officially ends at midnight, Pacific Daylight Time, on May 11, 2008.

In the earliest days of the company, PopCap’s founders used their own mothers as “sounding boards” for games in development. “We would set our moms down in front of PCs with early-stage versions of games such as Bejeweled, and just leave them there for awhile,” recalled Jason Kapalka, one of PopCap’s co-founders and the company’s chief creative officer. “If they were still playing when we returned, we knew we were headed in the right direction with a game that could appeal to a very wide audience.” PopCap continues to use mothers and grandmothers in the testing stages with each of its games, and more than two-thirds of the company’s Beta Test Group comprises adult female consumers.

Study: Casual Video Games Demonstrate Ability to Relieve Stress, Improve Mood: Potential Clinical Significance Highlighted

GREENVILLE, NC and SEATTLE, WA – April 28, 2008 — East Carolina University’s Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies today revealed the results of a six-month long, randomized, controlled study that measured the stress-relieving and other mood-lifting effects of so-called “casual” video games. The three puzzle and word games used in the study, Bejeweled® 2, Peggle™ and Bookworm™ Adventures, are all made by PopCap Games, the leading developer and publisher of casual video games. (PopCap underwrote the study and provided copies of the games for research purposes.) The hypotheses were tested using state-of-the-art technologies and methodologies to measure heart-rate variability (HRV), electroencephalography (EEG) and subjects’ mood states pre- and post-activity (POMS). The study yielded significant findings in several areas while identifying potential therapeutic applications of casual games as a means of addressing serious mental and physical disorders. Due to the significance of the findings and their implications in health promotion, disease prevention and treatment, East Carolina University’s Psychophysiology Lab is planning to start clinical trials in the fall to determine the efficacy of these games and their prescriptive parameters.

More After The Jump

In all cases, the changes in stress levels and mood were measured in comparison to a control group that experienced a Web-based activity similar in physical and mental nature to the game-playing groups. Full results of the study will be presented at the Games for Health Conference in Baltimore, Maryland on May 8, 2008 by the director of the study, Dr. Carmen Russoniello, associate professor of recreational therapy and director of the Psychophysiology Lab and Biofeedback Clinic at ECU’s College of Health and Human Performance. The study results will also be published in a peer-reviewed journal later this year. High-level findings of the study are provided below. Additional data, including detailed charts, can be found at www.ecu.edu/biofeedback.

“I’ve conducted many clinical studies in the area of recreational therapy in the past, but this was the first one seeking to determine the potential therapeutic value of video games,” stated Dr. Russoniello. “The results of this study are impressive and intriguing, given the extent of the effects of the games on subjects’ stress levels and overall mood. When coupled with the very high degree of confidence we have in those results based on the methodology and technologies used, I believe there is a wide range of therapeutic applications of casual games in mood-related disorders such as depression and in stress-related disorders including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Granted, this study was a first step and much more needs to be done before video games can be prescribed to treat medical conditions. However, these exciting results confirm anecdotal evidence that people are playing casual video games to improve their mood and decrease their stress, and herald casual games’ potential in health promotion, disease prevention, and treatment of stress- and mood-related disorders.”

Stress Relief

With respect to stress relief, measured primarily through HRV which captures sympathetic (fight or flight) and para-sympathetic (relaxation) nervous system activity by assessing the variability in the heart’s “beat-to-beat” interval, Bejeweled was found to reduce physical stress activity by 54% compared to the control group. There was no statistical difference between male and female subjects. Peggle and Bookworm Adventures did not reduce subjects’ physical stress levels significantly but did affect psychological tension, depression and other aspects of mood, in some cases dramatically (see below).

Changes in Aspects of Mood

Mood was measured in six different categories: Psychological Tension, Anger, Depression, Vigor, Fatigue and Confusion. Cumulatively, these six aspects of mood are called “total mood disturbance,” with a decrease in total mood disturbance being a positive change in mood. In terms of total mood disturbance, Peggle had the greatest effect, improving mood by 573% across all study subjects compared to the control group (which saw a modest improvement in mood). Bejeweled 2 (435%) and Bookworm Adventures (303%) also had significant positive effects on subjects’ overall mood. Interestingly, among those subjects who played Bejeweled 2, male subjects showed a 10% greater increase in total mood than female subjects, while females who played Peggle experienced a 40% greater improvement in mood than males who played that game. “It’s not surprising that Peggle had the greatest effect on overall mood, given the game’s over-the-top celebration of players’ success each time they complete a level,” noted Dr. Russoniello. “The other games also provide positive feedback to players, but not to the same extent or in the same ‘exhilarating’ fashion.”

Data from electroencephalography (EEG) supports the study’s hypotheses and confirms the participant’s psychological assessment (POMS). All three PopCap® games increased mood but in different ways. Peggle significantly increased positive approach/engage brain activity, especially in females – who accounted for 97% of the positive change. Bejeweled 2 significantly decreased brain activity associated with avoid/withdrawal activity. Males had a significant (191%) decrease when compared to females and significantly differed from the control group. Bookworm Adventures had the greatest impact on left brain - right brain synchrony (421% increase). Males had a 214% greater increase in mood after playing Bejeweled and a 78% increase in mood after playing Bookworm Adventures, compared to females. Age was an important factor as well. Those subjects under the age of 25 had a 156% increase in left brain alpha, indicating a substantial decrease in avoid/withdrawal brain activity when compared to those subjects age 25 and older. In addition subjects under 25 had a significant increase in right brain activity (318%) indicating that they also had an increase in approach/engage brain activity. On the other hand, those subjects age 25 and older experienced an 891% increase in right/left brain synchrony indicating a greater mental relaxation state. (Additional break-outs of the study data by gender and age are available online.)

Psychological Tension

Peggle had the greatest effect on psychological tension, with study subjects who played that game averaging a 66% reduction compared to 36% reduction among those who played Bejeweled 2 and 24% reduction among players of Bookworm Adventures. Specifically with respect to Peggle, female subjects accounted for two thirds of the overall reduction in tension after playing that game.


Bejeweled 2 and Peggle had similarly positive effects on subjects’ anger levels, reducing anger by 65% and 63%, respectively. Bookworm Adventures had a more modest effect, reducing anger by 33%. Among female subjects, Peggle produced the greatest anger reduction, 86%. Men experienced the greatest reduction of anger while playing Bejeweled 2 (63%). “Peggle may have reduced anger more effectively in women due to its light-hearted characters and somewhat cartoony presentation featuring unicorns and rainbows,” Dr. Russoniello conjectured. “For men, it’s likely the nature of this game – Bejeweled 2 encourages focus, introspection and calmness – which facilitated a release of anger-oriented feelings like certain other therapeutic activities such as art.”


All three games had similar effects on depression, reducing subjects’ depressions levels by 45% (Peggle), 43% (Bookworm Adventures) and 37% (Bejeweled 2). Among men, however, Bookworm Adventures had the greatest depression-reducing effect, with male subjects accounting for 98% of depression reduction, on average, when playing that game. “All three games, but particularly Peggle, should be used in more focused trials with a group of clinically depressed subjects, to gauge the effects,” suggested Dr. Russoniello. “If these games can reduce depression this significantly among a population of people who are not diagnosed with depression, the potential for positively affecting the mental state of someone who is in fact depressed is very significant.”


Vigor is the only positive variable reflected in the POMS and represents a state of increased mental energy. Bejeweled 2 increased vigor by an average of 210% among subjects who played that game. Bookworm (10%) and Peggle (24%) had modest affects on subjects’ vigor levels. Among players of Bejeweled 2, females accounted for 59% of the overall increase in vigor.


Peggle had the most significant impact on fatigue, reducing it by an average of 61% among subjects who played that game. Bejeweled 2 (49%) and Bookworm Adventures (33%) also reduced fatigue. Peggle was nearly equally effective at reducing fatigue among male (52%) and female (48%) subjects.


Compared to the control group surfing the Web for articles (which collectively experienced a modest decrease in confusion), all three games reduced confusion dramatically, suggesting that the rules, objectives and input controls for the game were very clearly understood by the subjects. Subjects playing Peggle saw confusion drop by an average of 486%, while those playing Bookworm Adventures (462%) and Bejeweled 2 (426%) also experienced sizable reductions in confusion. “These findings are especially intriguing as they present the possibility that casual games may be useful in ameliorating conditions such as attention deficit disorder, memory loss and general confusion attributed to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Russoniello.

Study Methodology

The study was conducted between October 2007 and April 2008 and included a total of 134 subjects. Thirty-one subjects served as members of the control group, tasked with surfing the Internet looking for journal articles. The experimental groups consisted of 31 subjects who played Bejeweled 2, 29 subjects who played Bookworm Adventures, and 36 subjects who played Peggle. The study included the collection of physical data (based on Heart Rate Variability (HRV) measurements) and psychological data (based on POMS (a profile of mood states pre- and post- activity) and electroencephalography (EEG) measurements) during a 5-minute baseline period and 15 minutes of game playing or (in the case of the control group) Internet surfing.