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Dara O'Briain: 'I never thought I'd become an advocate for gaming'

Irish funnyman on BAFTA, violence and Olly Murs...

Dara O'Briain has unwittingly become one of the UK video games industry's most cherished ambassadors.

Whether proudly declaring his love for the medium on prime time BBC One, stealing the show on Charlie Brooker's Gameswipe - or, indeed, defending his hobby right here on CVG - he is, by many gamers, fondly seen as 'our' celebrity.

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More than that, of course, he's presented two GAME BAFTA Video Games Awards - an honour to which he's been invited back for a third turn on March 16, when the ceremony hits London's Park Lane Hilton Hotel.

We caught up with O'Briain to discuss interactive entertainment's role in his life, his opinion of how it's represented in the media and why gaming's nerds and science's geeks have a lot in common - including his respect...

We called you a hero not so long ago...

Oh! For the BBC1 Apollo thing. I remember.

Yeah - especially in reference to the timeliness of it after Panorama...

The same week wasn't it? Crazy. I never saw Panorama. Was it the usual...

It dressed itself up as being even-handed. And then interviewed lots of people who found it easy to blame games for their problems.

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Did they mention skunk? They normally do a lot of that on these shows. The depressing thing about the constant media debate that the games industry is in - whether that's violence, addiction or demotivation from games - is that [gaming's opponents] take people from the very extreme of the bell-curve who are just going to react badly to anything that's put in front of them - box-sets, dope, whatever. And then they spoil the fun for the rest of us.

At some point, you've got to call a halt to it, like. There's a philosophical element to it: Yeah, I'm sorry, just because one guy made an idiotic decision doesn't mean the rest of us will.

... play Call Of Duty for 90 hours in a row.

Exactly. Listen, I have a kid, whatever. Kids just occasionally will fall out of trees and hurt themselves really badly. It doesn't mean you stop your child climbing trees.

Some poor parent has to bear the brunt of a terrible thing happening like a bicycle accident, but you still take your kid out on a bike. You don't go to the edge, find the worst hard luck story and then say: "Now the rest of you can't have your fun."

Fuck that, you know? We're enjoying it quite responsibly. It's sad, isn't it? It's just sad. But the tone [in the media] should be: "It's awful when that happens in a pastime we all enormously enjoy and can handle just fine."

You'll be glad to hear I've got a few questions related to gaming's impression in the mainstream press...

Yay! I haven't even got to violence yet - that'll be a good one.

But before then... It's obvious you have a real history with games. What role have they played in your life?

Well they've been constantly buzzing round as a ready form of entertainment. On a holiday to England once, I caught my father coming out of Argos with an Atari 5200, or 2600, I struggle to remember. He was discreetly trying to buy it as a Christmas present. I was about 10 or 11.

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