In their third annual Active Gamer Benchmark Study, Nielsen Entertainment found that of "the roughly 117 million Active Gamers in the U.S. in 2006, more than half (56%) play games online, and that 64% of all online gamers are women."
Notable along with the growth of women gamers online, is that they comprise "the largest percentage of casual gamers." The research also shows that although teenagers continue to comprise the largest percentage (40%) of Active Gamers, more than 15 million of these gamers (almost 8%) are now 45 years or older.
Pointing out, specifically, the growth of "simple and engaging encounters" available online, as well as broadband's effect on increasing the popularity of the MMO market, the study also suggests that growth within the PC gaming market is driven by it's variety of online content for a wide market.
Said Emily Della Maggiora, Senior Vice President of Nielsen Interactive Entertainment, "we see everyday how important online gaming is in terms of connecting people and bringing communities of gamers together. From a simple battle in Halo to a more immersive communal experience, online gaming has the power to unite gamers across the street and/or around the world."
In September the NPD released a similar study that found while video gamers were now stretched across the spectrum of demographics, 6-17 year-olds still comprised the core heavy gamer. The latest study may describe a marked growth in the population of non-traditional gamers, but it probably doesn't mean that advertisers or publishers are looking to change their direction or target market anytime soon.