Men spend more money on video games than they do on music, research group Nielsen Entertainment said on Thursday, lending credence to a growing belief that video games are displacing other forms of media for the attention of young men.


And video gaming in general is starting to attract an older audience, with nearly a quarter of all gamers over age 40, the agency also said.



The interactive unit of Nielsen Entertainment conducted a random survey of 1,500 people in January and February for its report. Nielsen Entertainment, a unit of VNU NV (VNUN.AS: Quote, Profile, Research) of the Netherlands, is best known for its benchmark SoundScan music sales service. Its corporate sibling Nielsen Media Research is the standard for TV ratings.



For males, Nielsen said, games now rank only behind DVDs as a purchase category, ahead of CDs, digital MP3 files and other ways of buying music. Nielsen also found that African-Americans and Hispanics spend more money on games each month than Caucasians.



Advertisers are quickly embracing video games as a better way to get to young men than the more traditional medium of television. Many games now have ads inside them, such as billboards in race games, and Nielsen is working on a method to measure audience response to the in-game ads.



Nielsen found 40 percent of U.S. households have some kind of system dedicated to game play, whether a gaming PC, a console or a handheld device. Among gamers, 23 percent own all three types of systems.



Among people who own at least one of the major consoles –Sony Corp.’s (6758.T: Quote, Profile, Research) PlayStation 2, Microsoft Corp.’s (MSFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research) Xbox and Nintendo Co. Ltd.’s (7974.OS: Quote, Profile, Research) GameCube — 8 percent said they owned all three.



Nielsen also examined the amount of time spent playing alone versus socially and found that 79 percent of men and 79 percent of women over the age of 45 spend most of their time playing alone. Teen-age women tended to play more socially, Nielsen said, while women 25-54 are roughly split between playing alone and with others.



Overall, the firm said, active gamers tend to spend just over 5 hours a week playing alone and 3 hours a week playing with people or online.



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