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Apocalypse Now

Grand Arts gets gamers to Waco up.

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Waco Resurrection, a computer game included in Grand Arts' show Join Us: Calls to Ecstasy From the Edge of Oblivion, is voice-activated. To begin, the player must first don a helmet shaped like the head of Branch Davidian cult leader David Koresh and say, "I am David Koresh."

The mission of the game is to defend the Mt. Carmel Center from federal agents by either shooting or converting them. By collecting the Bibles that fall from the sky throughout the game, the player gains extra healing, killing and conversion powers in the form of chants, which must be spoken aloud to be used.

Waco Resurrection is the first in a series by Los Angeles-based artist collective C-Level. "Endgames" aims, as C-Level puts it, "to present both player and viewer with immersive apocalyptic experiences that prompt reconsideration of the phenomenal possibilities inherent in ideological conflict."

"It's so socially and politically loaded," says Stacy Switzer, director of Grand Arts. "To me, C-Level won't come down on one side or the other and say, 'This is a piece that is supposed to make you empathetic to David Koresh.' When he dies, I was really surprised that I was able to have an empathetic reaction to a character in a game when I'm not a game person, either."

To get a gamer's opinion of Waco Resurrection, the Pitch enlisted the help of Aaron, the manager of a video-game store in Westport. He has some technical problems with the realism of the game.

"If I shoot somebody in the knee and they fall down to one knee, it just makes it more believable," Aaron says. "That's not something that requires a budget. It requires just moving of hit-detection boxes."

He also cautions that the game might have some problems in a retail market.

"Nobody would want to buy a David Koresh helmet."

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