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Dara O'Briain: 'People think we're weird. Who cares?'

Insight: TV funnyman says it's time for gamers to "relax"...

On March 16, Irish comic Dara O'Briain will host the BAFTA Video Games Awards for a third successive year. It's little surprise he's been invited back.

In a world of has-been celebrities paying lip service to video games for a quick cash in, O'Briain stands tall as a thriving public figure who's not only into games - but proud of the fact.

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His now-legendary performance on BBC1's Live At The Apollo last year - where he confessed his love for gaming on the same channel whose Panorama had attacked it just days before - has earned him a special place in many of our affections.

But it's his presenting style at BAFTA; his cheerily nerdy reference points and refusal to bow too majestically to our most revered names, that have made him such a cherished figure in industry circles.

We caught up with O'Briain this morning to discuss the resistance he's found from those who still see gaming as a "weird" pursuit - and how it's high time we all stopped worrying what other people think.

We've repeated a big chunk of his comments below - we hope you'll agree they make for a chucklesome read...

I was kind of apologetic when I said "I love video games" to open the gaming stand-up bit that went on Live At The Apollo.

That point became more brash as I went on my tour: "Some of you are going to love this, some of you are just going to look at me bewildered."

"I. Love. Video. Games." It sounded like I was at an AA meeting.

Isn't it strange how we still require that sort of thing, that sort of reluctance? I was on BBC Breakfast this morning talking about the BAFTAs, and they treated gaming like this odd thing - they actually used the word "weird" to describe sitting in a room with a television.

They kept concentrating on that: sitting in a room. "Weird." Really?

I asked: "You know when you're watching the West Wing?" And [the presenter] said: "Yes."

I said: "Okay, so you've watched box-sets. How is that different? Why is this 'in the room' so important? Why is that so odd? What else am I suppose to do? Wander the streets?"

Then people say to you: "Oh, why don't you go out and meet people?" Because I play games at 1am. Who am I going to meet at 1am who's going to improve my life? Should I just start hanging around in kebab shops? "What are you getting? You getting a doner? Oh, nice."

I genuinely don't see why this notion persists, that gaming alone in a room is somehow bizarre. Someone made the point that video games are unhealthy. Reading is sitting in a room, and no-one's saying that about reading. I'm not slamming reading, by the way - especially given CVG's audience is reading this at the moment. But a lot of good things happen in a room. Why video gaming gets a bad wrap, I have no idea.

It's obvious to me that telly doesn't really quite know how to 'do' video games - how to represent them. But you know what? I at this stage have just begun to accept that this is just a feature of the games industry.

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A large part of it is that gaming is not going to create stars, it's not going to create beautiful people to walk down a catwalk in evening gowns. There are no photographs of Mario on his holiday. There are no naughty paparazzi shots of Master Chief doing his shopping. Without that ancillary industry - without the Heat Magazine stuff and the Sunday supplements - I don't think games will ever have that crossover.

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