After a day of dirty diapers and Dora the Explorer, of laundry and homework time, when her four kids are finally asleep, Sarah Ninesling begins roaming the ruins of a post-apocalyptic Washington, D.C., fighting mutants to help save the survivors of a nuclear war.
The 30-year-old stay-at-home mom from New York's Long Island plays "Fallout 3" and other games like "World of Warcraft" and "The Lord of the Rings Online." She plays every day, sometimes past midnight, to escape and relax and feel a sense of accomplishment.
Ms. Ninesling is not alone. More than half of American adults play video games and one in five play just about every day, according to a survey released Sunday by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. The survey of 2,054 U.S. adults was conducted late last year, with a margin of error of about 2 percent.
People from all walks of life play, though younger adults are far more likely to play than seniors, proof that video games are mainstream entertainment for the generations that grew up with them. In all, 81 percent of respondents between 18 and 29 said they play games, compared with 23 percent of people 65 and older.
The gender gap between gamers was not what would be predicted by old stereotypes painting video game fans as young men who need to get outside more. Fifty percent of women and 55 percent of men play video games.
A surprising finding in Pew's new report was the discrepancy between the education levels of gamers and nongamers: A college education means you're more likely to play them. Some 57 percent of respondents who had at least some college said they play games, compared with 51 percent of high school graduates and just 40 percent of people who have less than a high school education.
The survey also found that parents with young children and teenagers are big gamers, though a love of video games is not necessarily a result of parenting. Rather, these parents tend to be younger than parents with adult children, and are thus more likely to play.