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TELEVISION SHOWS SUCH as ER and Chicago Hope have been a popular success for the networks. Now, the surging interest in medical drama seems to be catching on in the computer-game world.

Emergency Room is a forthcoming CD-ROM from IBM's Multimedia Publishing Studio in Atlanta that gives PC users the chance to play armchair doctor. Players begin the game as first-year residents in a hospital emergency room, where they interview patients in the waiting room, decide who should get examined first, order medical test procedures, read X-rays and CAT scans, and call upon specialist doctors and technicians who are played by actors in over 35 minutes of digitized videos. If players order too many unnecessary tests, they'll get a reprimand from the hospital administrator. Handle enough cases well, on the other hand, and they'll soon be in the much-vaunted position of chief of staff and given the tough cases such as gunshot wounds and coronaries. IBM says the $70 CD-ROM will be available by July at most consumer software outlets.EDITED BY PAUL M. ENG

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