The NPD says the number of female gamers in the audience is up year over year -- "significantly" on consoles.
The percentage of console gamers who are female grew from 23 to 28 percent in 2009, according to the NPD's new market segment study. The rise is mainly attributable to the Wii, which itself saw a 19 percent increase in usage over last year.
But even in more core-market outliers, female presence is up, the study results assert. The audience defined as "heavy" users of portable systems saw its percentage of female constituents rise four percent.
The portion of the audience defined as "extreme" gamers -- those who play an average of 39 hours per week -- also saw its female population rise four percent.
"Last year was one of the most transformative in history in terms of defining the audience for gaming," says NPD analyst Anita Frazier.
"Even with the increased competition from mobile and social network gaming, the console gamer segment added the most new participants to its ranks in the last year."
38 percent of total gamer time was spent playing online games, finds the NPD -- flat compared to the previous year, suggesting that as the industry eagerly moves online, the audience may not be following at quite the same rate.
In fact, the NPD says that while 16 percent of game purchases in 2008's fourth quarter were downloaded digitally, the average number of gamers paying for microtransactions decreased over last year.
"This could be caused by the increased availability of free gaming, putting a downward price pressure on the industry," says Frazier.
The NPD's study is based on a survey of 20,000 members of its online consumer panel of people "ages two to 65+" who say they personally play video games -- responses for two-year-olds, it says, were captured by asking parents to help their kids use the computer in order to answer the questions.