Ever since more and more entertainment options have popped up on gaming consoles, people have been wondering just how much time was spent doing activities other than shooting bad guys with their Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii units. With even more content coming in the future such as ESPN to the 360, have these pieces of consumer electronics graduated from just being something for the kids to a true entertainment hub for the entire family?

This is exactly what Nielsen, the people behind TV ratings, set to find out with a recent study.  While people are still putting in a lot of time with offline gaming, they’re also engaging in numerous other activities with their consoles.

The first chart from the upcoming Nielsen 360° Gaming Report: U.S. Market report due out in Jan. 2011 shows how exactly people over the age of 13 are diving their time when the consoles are powered up.

Nielsen Consoles Share of Time

It seems that the Wii’s concentration of family gaming that doesn’t require you to be online is definitely dominating that particular unit’s time. What’s curious is how many people have criticized Microsoft for charging for online play, but yet that is the leading unit for multiplayer online time, and it is closing in on offline gameplay.

The questions remains as to who is using the consoles more, and using a metered measuring system, we know that also.

Nielsen Hours by Gender

Game systems were once thought to be solely the realm of teenage boys, and while they still log the most hours, females aren’t running too far behind them.  What’s interesting is how far behind the other consoles the Wii is.  Is it simply not as engaging as the others?  Does this say something about the quality of games?  We don’t know, and we certainly aren’t bashing on Nintendo here, but this data is so wildly skewed that you do have to wonder what’s causing it.

While all of this is interesting, it doesn’t really matter much for now as people are going to use their game systems for what suits them best.  What it does make us wonder, however, is will this somehow play into the development of the next generation of the consoles?  Will the Xbox 3, PlayStation 4 and Wii 2 have even more of an entertainment slant to them?  Will we see form factors that make them fit more cohesively with the rest of your electronic components as the manufacturers aim to to become a more central part of your family room entertainment?  There is no way to tell as of yet, but it is certainly food for thought.

What say you?  Are you finding yourself doing more than just gaming with your console?