Prince Charles is to be sent a selection of computer games from Elspa (European Leisure Software Publishers' Association) after slamming the value of the pastime as a poor alternative to reading.

Speaking at the British Museum on Wednesday night, the Prince lambasted computer games.

"One of the great battles we face today is to persuade our children away from the computer games towards what can only be described as worthwhile books," said HRH.

But Elspa immediately hit back at the Prince's comments. "It's surprising the Prince made such outspoken claims, said Elspa's director general, Roger Bennett . "The Prince is an influential public figure and such statements could be damaging to the industry.

"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," added Bennett, who went on to defend computer games as "beneficial in terms of social and educational development for young people".

The association said it would be sending the Prince a few games to play between appointments in his busy schedule and invited him to visit a UK development suite to experience the industry firsthand.