Game boys battle it out in a 10,000 pounds dimension

THEY were the battle-hardened elite. From 20,000 hopefuls, two emerged yesterday to play for the title of National Computer Games Champion 1993, and a prize of pounds 10,000, writes Rhys Williams.

David Collins, 12, from Belfast, and Tony Brown, 14, of Newcastle upon Tyne, stood shoulder-to-elbow on the Gamesmaster stage at the Future Entertainment computer games show at Olympia in London - a celebration of the most fun at home for teenage boys since the invention of the mail-order catalogue.

The pair had struggled through regional heats and finals, and now faced their biggest test outside a GCSE. They looked out across a crowd whose only interest appeared to be which stall would chuck out the next free T-shirt. A man in a black T-shirt, black cap and black jeans stomped up and down the stage trying to whip up some enthusiasm. 'Louder,' he yelled. 'I want to hear some more noise.'

Half an hour later, Tony emerged victorious through superior firepower on Zool ('ninja of the nth dimension'), Overkill and Aladdin. Britain had a new champion. How did he feel about the victory? 'Great.' How did he think he had played? 'Great.' So what was he going to do with the money? 'Spend it all on computer games.' And how often does he play games? 'All day, every day.' Tony's stepfather, Alan Plunton, leapt on to the stage. 'I'm proud of the lad,' he said.

And what about the runner-up? David, slightly crestfallen, held on to his mother's hand. What was he going to do with his pounds 4,000? He cast a quick glance at Mum, before steaming in with: 'Spend it all on computer games.' 'Er, not all of it, David. You'll put some into a savings account.'

As the titans shuffled off and the crowds cheered to yet another free T- shirt being tossed among them, the next game came up on the screen above the stage - 'Mortal Kombat'. Mortal Kombat on Remembrance Sunday? Well, it has a ring about it.

(Photograph omitted)