Not sure what to get your husband or boyfriend for his next birthday? Chances are he would like a video game rather than a CD. According to a new study by Nielsen Entertainment's Interactive Group, men are now spending about $33.60 a month on video games, compared with $30.10 on CDs or other music purchases.

Video games are the second most purchased category among men, right behind DVDs and videos, according to Nielsen. “I think part of the reason is that the rich graphics and aesthetic nature of the games are much more engaging today than back in the days of Pong,” says Emily Della Maggiora, vice president of Nielsen. “They also support a much more interactive environment.”

Total video game retail sales in the U.S. were at $9.9 billion last year, according to The NDP Group. Industry sales are projected to grow 15 percent annually over the next three years. The hottest game, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, sold over 5.1 million units.

Seeing such a huge potential in video games, Nintendo announced that it would open its World Store this spring in New York's Rockefeller Center. The two-story retailer will allow shoppers to preview unreleased games for its various home and handheld consoles and buy current releases. The store also will be the new home of Pokemon Center, which will feature exclusive merchandise, such as trading cards, based on the popular franchise.

But don't expect to see just males ages 8 to 34 checking out the new games there. One of the biggest surprises from Nielsen's study was that one quarter of those actively engaged in gaming, ranging from console units to online venues such as AOL, were men 40 and older. Maybe even more surprising was that 39 percent of all gamers who responded to the survey were female.

“Women were engaging more in the video game media such as PC computer games or consoles,” says Della Maggiora. “It partially has to do with the fact that it is not passive entertainment like other media such as TV or film.”

According to an online poll conducted by Nielsen among mostly males ages 12 to 34, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and GameStop were the retailers of choice in November and December.

Grand Theft Auto: Nashville

A Nielsen survey revealed that male shoppers now spend more on video games than music. And the amount is close to passing DVDs and videos as their top expense.

Q.

How much do you (or someone in your household) spend each month on _________?

Buying feature films on DVD/video $34.10
Console or PC video games 33.60
Buying CDs, MP3s or other forms of music 30.10
Going to the movies 21.70
Mobile phone-related entertainment (excluding regular phone charges) 20.10
Entertainment-related options on the Internet (excluding access fees) 16.00
Premium Cable Channels such as HBO and Showtime 14.80
Buying pay-per-view films on TV 5.00
Source: Nielsen Entertainment