Nielsen: 56 Percent of U.S. Households Own a Game Console

If you grew up playing on an Atari 2600 or ColecoVision, your parents may have shrugged off your obsession with videogames as nothing more than a fad. They couldn't have been more wrong. Videogames are more popular than ever, as evidenced by more than half -- 56 percent, to be exact -- of U.S. households laying claim to at least one modern generation game console, according market research firm Nielsen.

Not surprisingly, nearly two-thirds of consoles are located in the living room, which underscores that these devices are not just adept at playing games, but also serve double duty as media centers. What some might find surprising, however, is that the Nintendo Wii leads the way in the living room penetration (75 percent), considering it's the least capable media center by lacking a DVD and/or Blu-ray drive and not supporting high-definition 720p or 1080p signals. It's also the least expensive of the big three (Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3).

According to Nielsen, U.S. gaming is up 7 percent over last year.

"There is increasing overlap and competition in the mobile / handheld / tablet gaming space: 66 percent of households with kids age 6-12 that own a Nintendo DS or Sony PSP also have an Apple iOS device, Nielsen stated in a blog post.

Gamers are playing across multiple screens these days, which wasn't necessarily the case in the Atari 2600 era. Nowadays, 25 percent of gamers play on two or more gaming devices that include a console, PC, or mobile / tablet, up 17 percent in 2009.

What's your gaming platform of choice?