Video games will be the dominant form of personal entertainment in the 21st century, according to the folks who sell them. Well, they would, but still, an industry that annually makes more than £4.3bn must be drawing some customers who aren't geeky teenage boys.

People of both genders and all ages are moving "beyond passive entertainment" such as television, music, and movies, says Doug Lowenstein, president of the Interactive Digital Software Association. He was speaking (and pushing the IDSA's latest report on gamers) at the E3 games show in Los Angeles yesterday

"Video games have become a leading form of mass-market entertainment as the core user has aged from the teens into adulthood and [as] millions more casual gamers join hardcore gamers to drive market growth and expansion," Lowenstein said.

The IDSA study, also released yesterday, gathered data from more than 1,500 households in the United States that own a video game console or a PC used to run entertainment software.

Though men continue to play video games in the largest numbers, women account for most of the newcomers to digital entertainment, according to the study.

More than 62 percent of the people who have been playing computer and video games for less than a year are women. Also, more than 46 percent of console buyers and 55 percent of computer game buyers are women.

The study found that 56 percent of today's console and PC players have been at it for more than six years. Six out of ten of today's players say they expect still to be playing games in ten years, regardless of their age, he said.

"It's clear that the industry's surging growth is no passing fancy," Lowenstein said. People aged six to 36 have grown up playing games and as they age they see no reason to stop. Interactive entertainment is "as natural and basic as watching TV or listening to the radio was for previous generation", he said.

The study also shows that 96 percent of PC game buyers are 18 years or older. More than 86 percent of console video game buyers are 18 or older.