Business Excuse: Your team needs to blow off steam.
Power Play: "Quake"
Why You Really Want It: So you can play your boss and fire a nail gun at her -- at point-blank range. Feel better yet?
Chainsaw-swinging monsters. Flesh-eating zombies. Slashing beasties. Blow them away and get off on the flying chunks of flesh in this unremittingly violent 3-D game. Its the follow-up to the immensely popular "Doom" and "Doom II" games from id Software.
The best thing about "Quake" is you can "death matches," on the company's network against coworkers. After a frustrating day you can chase coworkers around dungeons and castles and blast them with rockets. Sound effects include wails of pain and incidental music by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. Don't expect to play "Quake" on anything less than a Pentium PC.
Weak Factor: "Quake" is dangerously addictive -- it can quickly turn from a stress reliever into a productivity time sink.
Coordinates: $45 (DOS and Windows). id Software, 972-613-3589; http://www.idsoftware.com
"You Don't Know Jack"
Business Excuse: Your team finished the project under budget and on time -- they deserve a little R&R.
Power Play: "You Don't Know Jack"
Why You Really Want It: So you can hit the "screw your neighbor" option and force your least-favorite coworker to answer a question.
Replete with a smarmy host and TV commercial parodies, "You Don't Know Jack" makes no pretense of trying to test your knowledge of world politics or literature. All you need is a thorough familiarity with pop trivia. Who was the martian in the Bugs Bunny cartoons? What was the original name of Kellogg's Sugar Smacks?
Weak Factor: Sober types will think its pretty puerile. But who need them?
Coordinates: $30 (Windows, Mac). Berkeley Systems, 800-344-5541; http://www.berksys.com/index.html
"The Lucas Arts Archives Vol. II: The Star Wars Collection"
Business Excuse: The Christmas party is next week, and you want a sure-fire gift for the boss.
Power Play: "The Lucas Arts Archives Vol. II : The Star Wars Collection"
Why You Really Want It: You're a "Star Wars" fanatic -- keep the games for yourself and give the boss a tie.
To promote the re-release of the digitally enhanced "Star Wars" Trilogy, LucasArts has bundled some of the most popular computer games of all time into one package.
The Star Wars Collection includes "Rebel Assault," "Rebel Assault II," "TIE Fighter," and "Dark Forces." Boasting 3-D graphics and animation coupled with some video footage, all the games are based on the movies. In "Dark Forces," players blast Imperial Storm Troopers with a laser gun, scale cliffs, and duck gunfire from robots. "TIE Fighter" puts you in Luke Skywalker's seat to blast imperial fighters into deep space.
Weak Factor: Outtakes from the movies get in the way of playing the games.
Coordinates: $55 (Windows). LucasArts Entertainment Company, 800-985-8227; http://www.lucasarts.com
Logitech's WingMan Warrior
Business Excuse: Your ergonomically correct office requires an ergonomically correct joystick.
Power Tool: Logitech's WingMan Warrior
Why You Really Want One: Only a wuss would play "Quake" with a mouse -- plus, you avoid repetitive stress injury.
The wildest joystick on the market is Logitech's digital/analog WingMan Warrior. It's a two-fisted controller: you operate the molded joystick with your right hand while you spin and dodge by using a knob in your left hand.
Weak Factor: Its big, bulky, and hard to hide when a client drops by.
Coordinates: $99 (DOS and Windows). Logitech Inc., 800-231-7717; http://www.logitech.com
Motorola ESPNet To.Go and SportsTrax pagers
Your Business Excuse: You need to stay in touch with the office from the road.
Power Tool: Motorola ESPNet To.Go and SportsTrax pagers
Why You Really Want Them: Screw the office -- the NFL playoffs are here.
Every five minutes, you get the latest scores from professional and college sports. And each hour ESPNet delivers the latest scores from professional and college sports. And each hour it updates injury reports, on-field weather, and stats.
Winter is upon us, but baseball fans take heart: on Opening Day, SportsTrax for baseball will deliver continuous updates straight from the press box of every Major League game. The palm-size unit keeps track of who's at bat, the score, innings, and outs -- it even has digital men that represent players on base. Motorola plans to have football and basketball versions of SportsTrax available for Christmas.
Coordinates: ESPNet To.Go, $200-$270, depending on the service package. ESPN, 800-990-3776; http://www.ESPNettogo.com SportsTrax, carried by PageNet, $149, 800-724-3638. See Motorola's site for more info: http://www.paging.mot.com/special/