Editor’s note: John Gaudiosi covers the videogame industry for Local tech Wire and writes the Gaming Guru blog for WRAL.COM.

RALEIGH, N.C. – According to a recent survey of 3,000 12 to 54 year-old respondents by IGN Entertainment and Ipsos Media CT, videogames have become a mainstream form of entertainment for families.

Over half of today’s gamers are married (55 percent) and nearly half (48 percent) of these married gamers play games with their kids. The "Are You Game?" study found that more than 47 percent of people living in gaming households say that videogames are a fun way to interact with other family members. The overwhelming success of the Wii certainly has a lot to do with this, but both Microsoft and Sony are focusing more heavily on family gaming this year, as well.

Speaking of Wii, the study, which actually included interviews inside gamers’ homes (going beyond the general phone call), found that the average age of new gamers – those who started gaming in the last two years (which coincides with the launch of Wii) – is 32. The average age of a gamer according to the Entertainment Software Association is 35. The ESA also has the average age of a game buyer at 39.

The old stereotype that gamers are reclusive people who are locked in a dark basement all day has also been rebuked. Sure, there are gamers who wouldn’t know what Old Spice is for, but the vast majority of gamers now are playing with friends or online. The advent of online connected consoles has only enhanced social gaming. Three-quarters of gamers surveyed play games with friends online or sitting on the same couch.

Speaking of stereotypes, the fat, anti-social gamer is also a thing of the past. According to the new survey data, gamers were twice as likely to go out on dates as non-gamers in a given month. In addition, gamers were 13 percent more likely to go out to a movie, 11 percent more likely to play sports and 9 percent more likely to go out with friends than non-gamers. These numbers actually increase with professional gamers, as many of the pros I’ve interviewed are also gifted athletes and have busy social lives.

One reason the current recession isn’t impacting game sales is that the average gaming household income is $79,000, compared to that of non-gaming households ($54,000). The survey found that not only are gamers the first to pre-order special edition copies of games and new consoles, they’re also willing to pay extra for new non-gaming technology.

According to the data, gamers are twice as likely as non-gamers to buy a product featuring new technology even if they are aware that there are still bugs. Gamers are also twice as likely as non-gamers to pay a premium for the newest technology on the market. Gamers also consume media in different ways than non-gamers, with hard-core gamers spending – per week – five more hours on the Internet, two more hours watching television and two more hours listening to music than non-gamers.

Gamers have not only become more social, but they have surpassed non-gamers as pop culture influencers – especially in terms of television and movies. According to the data 37 percent of gamers said friends and family relied upon them to stay up-to-date about movies, TV shows and the latest entertainment news, compared to only 22 percent for non-gamers.

The data also points to gamers as early adopters of technology and gadgets, with 39 percent indicating that friends and family rely upon them to stay up-to-date about the latest technology.