If The Fresh Prince of Bel Air was real, Aunt Viv would be statistically more likely to be a video game addict than Will or Carlton.
That's according to the findings of a survey from the Entertainment Software Association (PDF), which found that overall the ladies are nearly as into video games as the fellas (45 percent versus 55 percent), and the average age of the most frequent video game purchaser is a solid 35. Taken together, the statistics fly in the face of conventional stereotypes and find that women above the age of 18 represent a significantly greater proportion of the gaming population (31 percent) as compared to males ages 17 and younger (a surprisingly paltry 19 percent).
While the ESA survey doesn't break down specific video game habits by gender, several studies that have found that women over 30 are the most important market for mobile games. A 2012 survey found that 27 percent of women over the age of 30 spend three hours or more per day playing mobile games, a rate double that for either sex between ages 12 and 29.
Among mobile gamers, the two most popular categories of games are "Puzzle" and "Casual, Social," each with 35 percent of the market. If women are playing more mobile games, which tend to be of the gender-neutral Candy Crush or Fruit Ninja variety, this may be a partial answer to recent criticisms highlighting the gaping chasm between the number of female gamers and the dearth of female game characters on dedicated gaming consoles. The stats, of course, still do not answer the question of why console game developers aren't trying harder to bring the huge audience of female gamers into the fold.
The ESA survey also found that new gamers (or newly engaged gamers) who are spending more time playing video games than they did three years ago are spending less of their time playing board games (58 percent), watching TV (49 percent), going to the movies (47 percent), and watching movies at home (44 percent).
In what must be music to Steve Ballmer's ears as Microsoft gets ready to launch the living room-ruling Xbox One, consumers have used their consoles for a range of non-gaming uses including watching movies (42 percent), listening to music (22 percent), watching TV shows (19 percent), and watching live content (5 percent).
And to bring it back to our original metaphor, Will and Carlton would have both had time to spend with Will's beloved Aunt Viv (the second Aunt V, not the train wreck one), as 58 percent of parents say they play video games with their children at least once a month, and 35 percent at least once a week.