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Prince Charles is being urged to squeeze computer games into his hectic schedule in an effort to combat his loathing of the pastime.

The European Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA) intends to send the Prince a basket of computer games following his speech earlier this week that told youngsters to ditch their computer games for "worthwhile books".

Comments from HRH such as: "None of us can underestimate the importance of books in an age dominated by the computer screen and constant wish for immediate gratification" riled ELSPA officials.

And they quickly fired off a press release to express their "surprise and disappointment" at the speech.

"We could of course excuse his view as simply representative of an age group that did not grow up with computer games and therefore feels alienated from the medium," said ELSPA director Roger Bennett.

"However, the Prince is an influential public figure and such statements could be damaging to an industry that in the last twenty years has emerged as one of the fastest growing and most creative in the UK."

ELSPA claims that computer games can be "extremely beneficial" for social and educational development in youngsters. It says that only a small percentage of the games market comprises action games such as Tomb Raider, with the majority of kids play educational or sports games.

The organisation today said it intended to mail off a selection of such games to Buckingham Palace pronto.

When asked if children were better off playing computer games than reading books, an ELSPA representative said the organisation recommended a "healthy balance" of pastimes.

"We're not creating a song and dance about this, we just think we need to be heard," she added. ®

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