Study: Average Gamer Is 37 Years Old (No Joke)

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Do kids ever really outgrow their gaming controllers and headsets? Apparently not, according to a new study that finds the average gamer has long surpassed puberty and is, in fact, 37 years old.

It turns out that 72% of American households play computer or video games, but interestingly, the majority of gamers aren’t even under 18. Rather, 53% are between 18 and 49, reports the Entertainment Software Association, which just released its 2011 study on the computer and video game industry. The research sourced nearly 1,200 households that were identified as owning either or both a video game console or a computer used to run games.

But don’t think that all gamers adhere to the classic stereotype of a fully-grown “man child” with facial hair and all. Women actually comprise 42% of the gaming population, with those over 18 representing a third of all gamers.

Thus, the study makes it clear that gaming has penetrated nearly every demographic. The ESA even says that 45% of parents play games with their kids at least weekly (hey, who isn’t in support of some family Wii time?).

Even beyond revealing the characteristics of gamers, the study also sheds light on game-purchasing behaviors. Parents are involved in the purchase or rental of games 91% of the time. Additionally, 90% of parents said they were aware of the content in the games their children were playing. This basically puts a dent in critics’ arguments that suggest kids can too easily access violent video games without parental consent.

So what have we learned (other than gaming isn’t just child’s play)? Well, we can infer that the industry is alive and kickin’ and should be for quite some time, since all those young’ins still have their best game playing days ahead of ‘em.

More on TIME.com:

E3 2011: Hands-On with Nintendo’s New ‘Wii U’

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