As the failed Soviet coup and its aftermath grab the world's attention, computer game maker Spectrum Holobyte is scrambling to catch up with the rush of history. Its Crisis in the Kremlin game, which is scheduled for release this November, is billed as "a geopolitical simulation of the Soviet Union."

The $60 program for IBM PCs and compatibles lets players assume the role of President and determine spending for various sectors of the economy, such as scientific research, agriculture, and the military. They can also decide how fast social and economic reform should proceed, if at all, and thus emulate Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin, or a neo-Stalinist. Players' decisions trigger feedback in the form of newspaper reports, simulated television broadcasts, and interoffice memos circulated among the KGB, the Academy of Sciences, and other Soviet institutions. The goal: Stay in office for 30 years.

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