Does life imitate Grand Theft Auto?
Glen Moran (24), a Dublin software tester who co-runs the video game review site www.schwoom.com, believes there's a stigma attached to video games that doesn't hold true to real life.
"It's ridiculous to say they promote violence," he says. "That's like saying someone who plays a football video game will either turn into a thug or David Beckham. After the Columbine School massacre in the US, one critic said that the game Counterstrike could have given them the training. The same was said about the Microsoft flight simulators after September 11th. However realistic they are, they'll never give you real life."
Moran thinks the "geek" subculture is used as a scapegoat for society's misfits. "I feel that the public perception of 'gamers' is that they are either pitiful fools or killers in the making. The media has been all too quick to associate games like Grand Theft Auto with any teenager who snaps under the pressures of school and bullying and, as such, there is a stigma being attached to these games. It wouldn't hurt to remind people that these games are no more responsible for violent outbursts than the perpetrator's diet or dress style.
"Gaming is an absorbing and interesting hobby," he adds. "I think many people are missing out on enjoying it because of this image."