Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon: These juggernauts are at the forefront of the tech industry. And with that success comes an ever-expanding workforce, and the need for a place to put them. To keep pace with growth, these companies have been making the requisite real-estate deals in order to build physical spaces to match their forward-thinking business approach. Fortunately, their designs are also more environmentally conscious than ever before. With the eyes of the world upon them, they've taken the well-being of the Earth, as well as their employees, into account, building innovative work spaces in an attempt to harmonize with the world around them. Below, we take a look at some of the steps these giants of industry have made over the years as they've moved from garage operations to vast campuses.

[Image: NBBJ]

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Games for Change president Asi Burak has noticed an odd trend in the gaming industry. Gaming is growing rapidly as a form of entertainment and it's entering a space of serious artistic critique, where people from other fields of entertainment recognize its potential to influence real-world events. Here's the odd part: Opposition to sophisticated critique of video games tends to come from within the gaming industry itself, Burak says. He runs through a few potential reasons for this phenomenon: It's the nature of gaming to be edgy and anti-establishment. It's a young industry. It saw rapid commercial success and now doesn't want to derail its prosperous ways. It's historically an underground kind of field, not used to a spotlight that could reveal flaws alongside beauty.

"For all those reasons, social responsibility and real-world issues are not the core of the gaming industry," Burak says. "And I think it's interesting because when you look at other media, it's always the case [that they're socially aware]."

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My Nintendo 64 memories have nothing to do with GoldenEye 007, the famed first-person James Bond shooter that helped define the genre. Unlike seemingly every other N64 owner, I never played that game because, quite frankly, shooters aren't my thing. With Splatoon, Nintendo's quirky, new third-person action shooter for the Wii U, ready for release on May 29th, however, it may be time I change my tune.

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Owl Cave popped onto the indie scene in 2013 with a macabre, witty point-and-click adventure called Richard & Alice, which received a slew of rave reviews. Studio co-founder Nina White specializes in crafting vaguely horrific stories packed with tension, and her latest creation, The Charnel House Trilogy, is no exception. It's a subdued brand of horror: no jump scares, no boogeymen under the bed, no demonic children with long, limp hair crawling out of the TV. Charnel House takes place on a train and tells the stories of three passengers over the course of a single night.

"For me, horror's all about the creeping dread, the slow, unsettling burn," White says. "It's this sense of unease and discomfort that I really like playing around with when crafting horror stories."

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Maximum Bjorkness! That's what I came in expecting at MoMA PS1, the Museum of Modern Art's Queens-based offshoot, where the famous musician/distressing fashionista's new virtual reality exhibit is on display. "Stonemilker," a lilting, melancholy track from her new album Vulnicura, is the basis for Bjork's foray into VR. Considering the freaky name -- Stone milk? Gross. -- the harrowing emotional subject matter of her new record and the tech, you can understand why I arrived ready to get weird.

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Storyscapes Press Preview - 2015 Tribeca Film Festival

Storytellers are finding new mediums, like mobile apps, virtual reality headsets and web-based products, to convey their narratives. Of course, events like Sundance and Tribeca Film Festival are the perfect place to exhibit any fresh or interesting project, where people can actually experience them firsthand. And they all have one thing in common: The key is to make you part of the story. At Storyscapes, an exhibit at the Tribeca Film Festival that showcases immersive creations, we came across some that caught our eye. For example, a couple use VR to express the director's message, another an app and, in the case of Door Into the Dark, a 6,000-square-foot labyrinth that relies on audio to guide those who try it. Sounds like fun, right? Don't worry: You, too, can check these out if you happen to be in New York City from today, April 16th, through April 19th.

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Tim and Adrien Soret, brothers from Paris, were quietly developing a Studio Ghibli-inspired dark fantasy game when the Cyberpunk Jam digitally rolled into town in early 2014. They took a break from their existing development schedule to build a completely new experience, a pixelated, neon-infused, sci-fi homage to some of their favorite childhood titles -- Another World, Flashback and Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee. They were new to game development and unknown on the indie scene, but in six days they coded, animated and designed their entry, The Last Night, and then threw it online for voting. They didn't expect much.

"When we discovered that we won out of 265 games, we were totally stunned," older brother Tim Soret says.

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It could've been the latent heatstroke setting in from the three days I spent tut-tutting millennials under my breath at Coachella, or the five coffees I'd drunk to sustain some form of consciousness. But when I finished playing a demo of the new 200cc level in Mario Kart 8 with some folks from Nintendo on Monday, my eyes felt looser in their sockets and a barely containable feeling of nausea lingered in my gut for about an hour. It was as if I'd come off a roller coaster -- like one of those daring, metallic serpents from Six Flags or Busch Gardens in the '80s that jolted you just a bit too much and gave the impression you'd nearly avoided whiplash.

All of which is to say, 200cc is not for the weak. It is stupid fast and stupid good.

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Mortal Kombat is synonymous with violence -- hell, it's baked into the franchise's name. But despite how increasingly gruesome the series has become with each successive release throughout its 23-year history, it hasn't lost sight of keeping the tone light as a counterbalance. Whether that's a head popping up saying, "Toasty!" in falsetto after a particularly brutal uppercut, or turning an opponent into a crying baby that slips on a puddle of frozen urine at the end of a match, humor is just as intrinsic to the game as its bloodshed. What the series delivers is cartoony, over-the-top violence akin to the B-movie horror of something like Peter Jackson's Dead Alive. Fatalities, Mortal Kombat's signature, end-of-match moves, are shockingly gory, for sure, but somehow developer NetherRealm keeps the game from feeling like torture porn.

"We're not out trying to make Saw or a horror film," says NetherRealm Lead Designer John Edwards. "We don't take ourselves too seriously."

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There's a new generation of MIDI-connected interface tools to help your creative juices flow without being tethered to a computer or lugging around a full kit. The Jamstik smartguitar is a mobile instrument for the digital age, whether you're a seasoned guitar player or just looking to learn a few chords. It's a lightweight, 16-inch guitar interface that uses WiFi to connect to Macs, PCs and iOS 7+ devices. The Jamstik works with hundreds of apps including GarageBand and Ableton Live, letting you play guitar, synth, drums or anything else simply by plucking the strings. There's also a Kickstarter for the new Jamstik+, which adds Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity and a focus on musical education. What's more, for every 15 Jamstik+ devices that are backed, Zivix will give one to a non-profit educational organization, opening up the world of music to tomorrow's musicians. To help give you a taste, the company has given us two Jamstiks, along with a set of SOL Republic Deck Bluetooth speakers for a pair of lucky Engadget readers this week. Just head down to the Rafflecopter widget for up to three chances at winning.

Winners: congratulations to Jeremiah N. of Moscow, ID. and Jeremy M. of Southington, CT!

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Guitar Hero Live is trying to pull off one of the most difficult acts in rock and roll: the return to relevance. Not just a reunion tour feeding off nostalgic fans looking to recapture the good, old days of 2005, but a bona fide resurrection. After a five-year hiatus for the series, FreeStyleGames has taken over. It hopes to bring the rock star simulator back to the prominence that made Guitar Hero 3 the first game to break $1 billion in sales. Its first step: redesigning the iconic guitar, trading its five primary-colored buttons for six black and white keys that mimic actual chord fingerings, but that's not its primary gambit. Chasing the rock star fantasy that the old games sold even further, this fall's Guitar Hero Live places you on a real stage with a real band and audience, all filmed from a first-person perspective.

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Guitar Hero has no business being relevant in 2015. Ten years is an eternity for video games, especially so for games tied so closely to specific technology like Harmonix's revolutionary PlayStation 2 game was to its inner-rock-star-summoning controller when it came out. A decade on from that original, and five years on from the last release in the series, Guitar Hero is an icon, but it also feels like a relic, a work hopelessly locked in its era. A 10-year anniversary reissue, maybe with some bonus tracks thrown in, seems like the best-case scenario for Guitar Hero coming back to life in 2015, a dignified archive for the nostalgic. FreeStyleGames has done so much more with its new game Guitar Hero Live. The studio has made a game that feels deeply modern, relevant, wholly distinct from Rock Band and somehow still rooted in tradition. It's all thanks to a new controller and a wildly different look for the series' debut on PS4, Xbox One and Wii U.

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Earlier today, Vizio introduced its latest 4K TVs, the M-Series. In similar fashion to the P-Series from last year, which started at $1,000, this year's models also come with an affordable price tag. But the M-Series ranges from $600 for a 43-inch model to $4,000 for the largest of the bunch, an 80-incher. Vizio says that with the M-Series, it was all about making refinements and not compromising in order to bring the price down even further. As such, most of the tech found on the P-Series has made its way into the new M-Series, like the LED panel and low-latency HDMI port (a feature loved by gamers, according to the company), among other things. Better yet, these UHD TV sets look great in person; they're relatively thin, sport a solid industrial design and, most importantly, have a picture quality that's not far behind its more expensive competitors. If you like what you see, some online retailers in the US are selling them as we speak.

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Eric Peterson has dedicated 20 years of his life to the video game industry, handling development and production in startups and large studios alike. He has a passion for space games, and in April 2012, he helped found Cloud Imperium Games, the studio building Chris Roberts' massive interstellar simulator Star Citizen. Cloud Imperium has since raised $78.6 million from nearly 900,000 dedicated fans, with more adding to the pot every day; it's the largest and most ridiculous crowdfunding campaign in gaming history. Late last year, Peterson walked away from Cloud Imperium, Star Citizen and that pile of cash. Not because he wasn't into the game anymore; he just didn't want to leave his home in Austin, Texas.

"I loved working on the project; I just didn't want to move to Los Angeles," Peterson says. "They're my friends. Look, I built that company with them. ... It's just that, I've made sacrifices before in this industry for games that almost cost me personally with my family. So I'm just not willing to do that anymore. The priorities for me are family first."

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