Anita Sarkeesian

Along with game developer Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian is likely one of the most knowledgeable people when it comes to online harassment. Both have been targets of intense cyber-abuse campaigns stemming from the GamerGate movement, and like Quinn, Sarkeesian is tackling the problem head on. She's going to continue giving speeches and making videos examining media (what she calls public efforts), but the digital abuse she's receiving has changed her long-term goal:

"There is also work being done behind the scenes in private meetings and consultations with major social media and gaming platforms, and by partnering with other organizations to form a task force with the goal of ending online harassment."

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Look out, Hollywood, because Oculus VR is coming for you. Earlier today, the Facebook-owned company introduced its new film division Story Studio, as it looks to broaden its horizons and experiment with narrative through virtual reality. The first short film to come out of Oculus VR's in-house movie lab is Lost, which is making its debut at Sundance. In addition to that, Story Studio has revealed that it's already working on more shorts with a VR twist to them, all expected to appeal to different audiences. Along with Lost, there's also going to be Dear Angelica, Bullfighter and Henry, plus two other films that haven't been announced yet.

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Rumors broke over the weekend that Google might bring its gigabit internet Fiber connection to Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, NC next, but it's not stopping there. The Tennesseean reports Nashville has an announcement planned, while the Wall Street Journal lists all of those cities plus Atlanta, based on anonymous sources. Atlanta would represent the biggest metro area for Google Fiber yet, and the WSJ mentions that media in the area have been invited to a launch event tomorrow. All four cities were already on Google's "Future of Fiber" list so there's no shockers here, but still -- pretend like you're surprised (and not jealous) when the announcement is made, it's only polite.

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SUPER BOWL XLIX -- Pictured:

This week it's all about the big game. We will not mention the footballs and how much air is or is in them, we will only wish for a contest that's not already over by halftime. Other than the Super Bowl matchup of the Seahawks and Patriots, we're also looking forward to Anderson Silva's return to UFC fighting, and the release of Grim Fandango Remastered on PlayStation and PC platforms. Finally, don't miss D'Angelo as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live. Look after the break to check out each day's highlights, including trailers and let us know what you think (or what we missed).

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Have you ever wondered if a regular human could carry the health packs, guns, chainsaw and all the other stuff from Doom? Well, it looks like we're about to find out. The disproving duo of Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman tackle scenarios from that title this weekend (January 31st at 9 PM ET) on a special video games episode of MythBusters. With the help of id Software creative director Tim Willits, the team recreated a level of Doom to see what's what when it comes to human strength in first-person shooters. If you're familiar with the show, you know that a couple of myths are typically addressed in a single episode, so perhaps we'll get a Call of Duty or Gears of War segment, too. For now, a trailer for Saturday's installment resides after the break.

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Free stuff is always great, especially if people actually want what's on offer. Apple now has a special section called "Free on iTunes" where you can find TV shows and music freebies if you've already blown through your monthly entertainment budget. It features TV episodes from 12 Monkeys, Eye Candy and others, as well as music from bands like Purity Ring and Houndmouth. As 9to5 Mac points out, Apple offered a similar service before, but this time, the focus seems to be less on hits and more on material that's still looking for an audience.

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After several years on hiatus, an official announcement and the shockingly rapid decline of the music game market, Rock Band suddenly leapt back to life this month. Harmonix Music Systems -- the studio responsible for the music game craze, and the studio that created Guitar Hero, Rock Band and Dance Central -- announced new tracks heading to the Rock Band online store, which works with both Rock Band 3 and Rock Band Blitz. Why in the world is Harmonix releasing new tracks as paid, downloadable content for games that only exist on previous generation consoles? The official word is full of public relations obfuscation:

"We had an exciting opportunity to add new content to the already-massive Rock Band library with a song from Arctic Monkeys – a band that's never been in a Rock Band title before! – as well as new music from fan favorites Avenged Sevenfold and Foo Fighters. We couldn't pass it up. Also, we wanted to see if we could still do it. Turns out we can. It's sort of like riding a bike."

Great. That out of the way, what's really happening? Companies don't just casually release new content for years old games. That's not a thing that happens. I'd call it "testing the waters."

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On Saturday morning in Ann Arbor, Michigan, it was about 30 degrees outside, but I was in my backyard enjoying a 75-degree day at the beach. That's only possible because I was testing out the first attempt at streaming virtual reality from one place to another -- in this case from Laguna Beach, California, to a Samsung Gear VR headset strapped to my head. Thanks to technology from the folks at Next VR, I could see and hear everything in 3D as though I was actually there, looking around in a virtual reality environment while on the phone with co-founder David Cole.

Next VR's demo reel takes viewers to a prerecorded NBA game, beach scene or Coldplay concert, but until now, no one outside of its labs has actually used the technology to visit another place via a live feed. A couple of years ago, we talked to the company about its plans to distribute live video in a virtual reality environment and today that dream came true.

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Sling TV, a $20-a-month service for cord-cutters, made quite the debut earlier this month, winning our Best of CES award amid a flood of attention from press and customers alike. But can the app really live up to its promise to "Take Back TV"? I've had access to the beta for a few days, allowing me to get an early look before the first batch of invitations for pre-registered customers goes out tonight at midnight ET. As far as I can tell, the answer is both yes and no. Internet TV is finally real, but it has a lot of strings left over from the old days of pay-TV, and not just because it's coming from the folks at Dish Network. Getting must-have content from the likes of ESPN has its costs, and those might make the $20 entry fee higher than you're willing to pay.

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The 2015 Sundance Film Festival has been taken over by virtual reality, but not every project being showcased here tells a story in a different way. Some filmmakers choose to make experiences based on computer-generated imagery; others prefer a live-action feel for their work. Kaiju Fury!, a 360-degree, 3D cinematic virtual reality film, goes with the latter approach. The project is a collaboration among New Deal Studios, Jaunt VR and the Stan Winston School of Character Arts, which combined forces last year to take more of a traditional narrative approach to VR. The result is a 5-minute short that instantly reminds you of classic franchises such as Godzilla, Jurassic Park and even Gremlins.

What I saw at Sundance was a 3-minute version of Kaiju Fury!, which was being screened on a Google Cardboard headset paired with a Samsung Galaxy S5. According to Ian Hunter, who wrote and directed the short, the final cut is expected to be released in roughly two months.

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IMAX Theatre@Urawa Parco

Not to be outdone by Dolby opening its own large-format theater, the folks at IMAX are putting one of their massive screens on a cruise ship. Yes. Really. IMAX says that not only is this an industry first, but that the screen will be three decks high and debut next spring on what'll be cruise company Carnival's biggest ship: the newly minted Vista. The outfit promises recent flicks and classics alike will be shown, in addition to IMAX documentaries. The best way to have seen Interstellar isn't all that the Vista has in store for avoiding the sunlight, either. Next door is what Carnival's calling the "Thrill Theater" where you can check out "multidimensional special effects experience." Given Carnival's less-than-stable history, we're going to imagine that rules out a 3D version of The Poseidon Adventure.

[Image credit: Cog Log Lab/Flickr]

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Virtual reality is in the midst of an ongoing renaissance, sparking incredible interest from all along the spectrum, including tech giants like Facebook, young startups, big movie studios and independent filmmakers. With that in mind, VRSE, a new production company in the VR space, has taken to Sundance 2015 to reveal its big ambitions for this immersive technology. And it all starts with Evolution of Verse, a 3.5-minute short film featuring a computer-generated landscape setting and other visual effects that are designed to push the envelope of virtual reality.

Over the past couple of days in Utah, I've been asked several times: "What does virtual reality have to do with Sundance?" Granted, that was brought up by people who don't necessarily keep up with the technology and film industries. Still, the question isn't without merit. To a certain degree though, this year's New Frontier event, an exhibit for creators to feature unordinary storytelling during the festival, is where you'll find the answer to that inquiry. It was there that platforms like the Oculus Rift were born, while more recently, works like Birdly, a virtual reality flight simulator, look to reach new audiences and showcase how science can interact with technology. With its VR experiments, VRSE hopes to make a big impact in the burgeoning space.

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Vudu Spark

Do you like the idea of a streaming media stick for your TV, but find that even Google's Chromecast or Amazon's Fire TV Stick costs more than you're willing to pay? You'll want to visit your local Walmart, then. The big-box retailer tells GigaOM that its Vudu Spark dongle, teased at the FCC back in November, is already available at 2,400 stores for $25 -- that's at least $10 less than its big rivals, and as much as the upcoming Matchstick. More stores are coming soon, Walmart adds. It's a tempting offering, but there's a good reason why it's so affordable. As hinted earlier, the Spark is only useful for watching Vudu purchases and rentals. That's fine if you're not picky about how you get your movies and TV shows, but you may have to shell out more if you're determined to use Hulu, Netflix or any other online video service.

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Been waiting for Sony to start dishing out the $15 million in restitution for the 2011 breach that took its PlayStation Network and Qriocity services down back in 2011? Well, thanks to the outfit putting a claim form online, now you can start the payment redemption process. It's limited to those who had either a PSN, Qriocity or Sony Online Entertainment account prior to the intrusion (May 15, 2011), and the payouts aren't all that different from what the firm gave out as part of its "Welcome Back" program at the time. Of course, back then PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable games and themes were a bit more desirable, but three months of PlayStation Plus is actually a bit more valuable now than it once was. Sony doling out the goods could still take a bit longer, though.

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Most Blu-rays and DVDs these days come with filmmaker commentary tracks, but it isn't too often you get to hear a game developer give play-by-play while running through something they created. That's the thrust behind the latest episodes of Double Fine Productions' "Devs Play" YouTube series, spotted by Polygon. Here we have one of Doom's co-creators John Romero playing a handful of maps from the legendary first-person shooter that runs on basically any platform. He breaks down everything from the work that went into differentiating it from id's other FPS Wolfenstein 3D, how the team used texture irregularities to denote secret rooms and even how he's watched speed runs that not even he can replicate. Oh, and he designed the first level last, incorporating everything he'd learned throughout the other missions to make the initial one the most interesting.

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