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Plugged In

Great games to sneak in at work

Plugged In

Everyone needs a work break now and then. Between meetings, meetings to prepare for other meetings, and meetings to discuss what happened in those other meetings, even the most dedicated employee needs to shift his or her focus away from the grind, if only for a few minutes.

And games are a great way to clear your head.

Playing a round of Angry Birds on your iPhone is a little too obvious, though, and odds are your company's IT department (not to mention HR) frowns on your idea of installing World of Warcraft on your work PC.

Fortunately, the web is full of great time-wasters. There have been studies indicating that playing games for an hour or so per day improve both productivity and job satisfaction. You might want to have one of those handy in case you're caught playing one of the following — as the days of the "boss" key (which would quickly hide games) are long gone. (Also, remember to mute your computer before playing.)

Canabalt

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Canabalt

If you like it simple, you'll love Canabalt. An instant web hit that has since made its way to the App Store, it's one-button game that requires you press the spacebar to jump over gaps and objects as you try to outrun a disaster. You won't make it, of course, but that's not really the point. Addictive, intense, and perfect for short bursts of fun.

Bomboozle 2
Like Bejeweled, this is one of the many "match three" games you can find scattered across the gaming universe. What's unique about this one is the way you align those like-colored blobs. Rather than simply swapping gems, you'll connect them by either selecting a large group or drawing a line through them, letting you form much longer chains and resulting in satisfying 'pops' as you clear the board.

Desktop Tower Defense
An oldie but goodie, this addictive strategy game game racked up over 15 million play sessions  in its first few months alone. That was years ago, but it's still pretty great. Protect your territory (in this case, an actual desktop) from invaders by placing and upgrading offensive units, in some cases building a kill-zone maze for them to follow.

Portal

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Portal (Flash version)

It doesn't have the mellifluous tone and polish of Valve Software's stellar first-person puzzle game, but this flash version of the PC and console hit actually manages to capture the essence of the series. It's not made by Valve, either, but it's noteworthy that the developer hasn't sicced its lawyers on this tribute, letting the online game find a devoted audience over the years.

Goldminer
A game doesn't have to be especially complicated to be addictive. In Goldminer, a grizzled old prospector tries to fish chunks of gold and diamonds from the ground with the help of his trusty winch. The early levels are especially easy, which can lull you into a sense of false confidence. And by the time you lose after 5-10 minutes or so, you'll find yourself determined to do better next time — which usually starts as quickly as you can hit the replay button.

Four Second Fury
Nintendo's WarioWare series was chock full of goofy, fun games that took just seconds to play. This Flash-based equivalent is the perfect diversion for the mid-day blahs. It's fast-paced enough to let you shake off the 3pm drowsiness, but won't devour hours from your day.

Papa's Taco Mia!

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Papa's Taco Mia!

Ever dream of running a taco stand? Us neither, though we've definitely dreamt of this well-made time-management game after hours spent playing it. Using a wealth of ingredients, you'll build tacos to order, cooking up meat, chopping up veggies and trying your best to deliver the deliciousness on time. Good luck with that.

Lemonade Stand
Economic simulators sound boring, but this game, which challenges you to make a profit selling lemonade over a 30-day period, is actually more engaging than you think. Who knew determining ad budgets and projecting demand could be such fun?

N
Another Flash classic; you'll control a gold-hoarding, stick-figure Ninja who has to collect cash and avoid everything from mines to lasers to heat-seeking missiles all within 90 seconds. It turned out to be quite a hit as a downloadable console game, but you can play it for free during your work break.

Tower of Doom
This is a twist on the tower defense genre, only this time, you're in the tower you're hoping to defend. As villagers and armies attack, you'll build new levels onto your tower, raising it higher in the air and making it more deadly.

Looking for more flash freebies? We've got you covered.

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