'For me, online gaming is a healthy, fun pastime'
Online journalist Cian O'Sullivan (27) from Waterford is an avid gamer and active member of the Irish Gaming Association. And despite hysteria over addiction, he argues online gaming is healthy -- not harmful.
"I've been a gamer for as long as I can remember. My family has always played games together, whether it's a card game or computer game.
"I put aside some time every day to play online. Am I an addict? Certainly not.
"There are doubts over whether 'internet addiction' truly exists. Unquestionably, computer games can be addictive -- but then, so can shopping for shoes.
"Gaming can be an all-consuming habit and there have been people who've lost their jobs, loved ones, or even their lives because they couldn't stop playing. However, compulsion -- whether an eating disorder or working out obsessively -- is usually a symptom of a separate problem, like low self-esteem.
"So just because some people get addicted to the adrenaline of online gaming, doesn't mean the activity itself is dangerous. For me, it's just a healthy, fun pastime.
"Every year, gamers from across Ireland and the UK get together at conventions held here -- and that's just the flesh-and-blood meet-ups. Online gaming allows you to meet people from all over the world and that's what makes it so appealing.
"I also keep in touch with old friends who now live abroad through gaming. And that's how the majority of gamers behave -- using it to relax and socialise. It's a far more active way to unwind that slumping in front of the TV for hours on end!"