The kids are finally in bed. Sound asleep. Time to slip that Game Boy or that Nintendo controller out of those weary little hands. Time to play.
For years, adults hooked on video games have had to resort to subterfuge, sneaking behind their children's backs to snatch a few hours of stolen pleasure on a borrowed Game Boy or Nintendo or Atari Lynx. Those who don't have children have had to buy their own video games, skulking around the aisles at Toys "R" Us among the bicycles and the Barbie Dolls.
That's because the video game industry has aimed its products and its sales pitch almost exclusively at teen-age boys. No longer.
According to the Software Publisher's Association, a trade group, the newest and fastest-growing video game market is made up of adult Nintendo players. With 80 percent of the market, Nintendo easily dominates the $3.5 billion video game industry.
"In the beginning, we all thought electronic games would appeal mainly to kids," says Selby Bateman, editorial director of Game Players magazine.
But with 30 million Nintendo Entertainment Systems in American homes, Mr. Bateman says, parents eventually get hooked on video games by watching over their kids' shoulders, and so manufacturers want to be ready with games that will appeal to adults.