In a sign that video games are becoming more popular as family entertainment, a national survey released Thursday indicates joysticks aren't just for kids.

Thirty-five percent, or about one in three parents, say they play, too, and 80 percent of that segment play video games with their children, according to the new survey commissioned by the Entertainment Software Association, a video game industry group.

The average "gamer parent" spends 19 hours a month playing video games, and spends roughly half that time playing alongside kids, the survey found.

Two-thirds of the gamer parents said they feel that playing video games has brought their families closer together.

Count among them Andrew Bub. "It makes us all laugh at each other," said the Milwaukee stay-at-home father of two.

As the founder of GamerDad.com, a Web site with game reviews and a discussion forum for parents, Bub has promoted the idea of video games as a family-bonding tool for years.

"Kids are going to play what they want to play, and parents are better off getting involved instead of sitting on the sidelines," he said.

Other survey findings: The typical gamer parent is 37, and almost half the group are women. Twenty-seven percent of gamer parents began playing video games around the same time their children started.

The survey of 501 parents with children between the ages of 2 and 17 was conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates in November 2005. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.4 percent.

The Entertainment Software Association, which is challenging various state laws banning the sales of violent video games to minors, noted that about two of every three parents surveyed agreed it is not the role of the government to protect kids from violent games.