Valve -- the company behind Portal, Team Fortress 2 and the widely-used game distribution hub Steam -- will show off its own virtual reality hardware, "SteamVR," at next week's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. This comes despite Valve's previous insistence that it had no plans to release any such hardware (we had our doubts about that anyway, after Valve held virtual reality demos at Steam Dev Days in January 2014). Developers who got their hands on the company's early VR experiments were impressed by their holodeck-levels of immersion, but the tech was reportedly very rough and required a full-room setup to completely function.

Additionally, it looks like Valve is making its own version of a "Steam Machine" -- the PC gaming initiative aimed at bringing PC gaming into the living room.

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It's almost time. This week the third season of House of Cards will come to Netflix streaming, and based on the early peek we got courtesy of a glitch, it's pretty good. As usual you can expect it at about 3AM ET on Friday morning, along with a new stand-up comedy special from Ralphie May. Until then however, there's plenty of other choices, like the award-winning Edward Snowden documentary Citizenfour, which premieres tonight on HBO at 9PM. On Blu-ray Big Hero 6, Beyond the Lights and Whiplash bring excellent options with Oscars credibility, while on TV we have the series finale of Parks & Recreation. 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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Last week we heard about YouTube's new app for little tykes, and now, it's ready to go to work. YouTube Kids is available on iOS and Android, delivering access to shows and music (Thomas the Tank Engine) with options for learning or exploring (Reading Rainbow), too. As you might expect, there are parental controls to keep tabs on content, sound levels and screen time, and items that don't need to be futzed with by children (comments, etc.) are absent. What's there, though, is a tiny finger-friendly interface of large images for easy navigation. If you're willing to hand your iPad or Nexus 9 over to junior, head over to the appropriate app repository to download.

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Let's get this out of the way up front: The market for the Thrustmaster T300RS is incredibly narrow. At $400 (the price of a PlayStation 4!) it's far beyond an impulse buy and demands you're taking every aspect of your living room racing experience Very Seriously. That's something I discovered when the company sent me a demo unit to try.

You see, at Casa de Seppala, my couch sits about 6 feet from my 65-inch TV. In between those two are an area rug and a coffee table I got for $75 on Craigslist. It's an awesome setup for movies and every other game I've played, but when it came time to put the T300RS through its paces, I couldn't figure out if the wheel was ill-suited to my space or vice versa.

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Twitch Booth

Want to meet up with your favorite game broadcasters? Of course you do, and with Twitch's inaugural convention, aptly dubbed "TwitchCon," later this year you totally can. There aren't a ton of details yet, but it takes place in San Francisco from Friday September 25th to Saturday the 26th. The live-streaming giant promises ways to elevate your broadcasting game and chances to meet your followers (or maybe even your idols) too, which makes us think it's going to be more along the lines of VidCon or PlayList Live than something like the Penny Arcade Expo. The very notion of a Twitch convention likely wouldn't be possible without that massive influx of cash from Amazon last year, and this is a sign of how far online video's grown (especially game-focused stuff) lately. What's more, this is indicative of just how popular Twitch has become as a platform in a relatively short period of time. Planning on attending? Hit the comments and let us know.

[Image credit: camknows/Flickr]

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The Order: 1886 isn't anything new, but man, is it pretty. Every review I've read mentions just how absurdly good-looking the PlayStation 4 exclusive is (out today); that praise is buried under heaps of valid criticisms regarding monotonous gameplay and hackneyed storytelling. Based on what I've played, I'm inclined to agree. Regardless of the pretty visuals, I've yet to be tasked with doing anything particularly interesting. The cover-based shooting is adequate, but I just can't shake the feeling that I've done it all before in better games. What's more, the narrative is incredibly dull: non-interactive scenes plod on for too long, helmed by characters I have zero connection with, spouting rote dialog that's difficult to decipher more often than not. Its just not very good. But it is pretty!

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Italian developers Sebastiano Morando and Francesco Lanciai didn't set out to make a game about social anxiety disorder when they created Sym. That idea spawned from the drawing of a character, a black figure with one eye disintegrating into a stark white background. Morando was inspired by this image, picturing pieces of the character as separate personalities fighting for control; a grotesque analogy for a teenager coming of age. "I was never diagnosed with social anxiety disorder," Morando says. "But in high school, I was really shy and talking with other teens was so difficult for me. When I discovered the existence of social anxiety disorder, the intense fear of social interaction, I wanted to delve deeper into it."

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29th Annual People's Choice Awards Show

You read that headline right: Every episode of the wildly popular CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and all its spin-offs are coming exclusively to Hulu Plus. As the Hulu blog tells it, over 300 episodes of the series'll appear on the streaming service come April. Hulu also points out that this deal means that past seasons will be added ahead of future season premieres (CSI: Cyber, anyone?) as well -- unlike its South Park deal, though, there's no word on day-after streaming yet. Hulu says that watching Horatio Caine (David Caruso, above) and crew's antics back-to-back would fill around two weeks total. How many vacation days do you have left?

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This afternoon -- as we do every Tuesday and Thursday -- Joystiq X Engadget Streams is taking a trip back through Greek mythology with Alien Trap Games' Apotheon on PS4. Also available on PC, it's one of the free games this month for PlayStation Plus subscribers and brings 2D action that's more than a little similar to the old Metroid and Castlevania games. For a fresh twist, it's got this pottery-art graphic style and a unique combat system. Your hosts today are Edgar Alvarez and Richard Lawler, so follow us on Twitch.tv/joystiq between 3PM and 5PM ET where we'll give this sidescrolling throwback a try.

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Back in the days of dial-up, when Tim Sweeney was 21 and in his third year of college, he needed cash to release his first game -- "thousands of dollars," as he recalls. To pay for the game's launch, for two summers he borrowed his dad's tractor and mowed lawns in his childhood neighborhood. Today, Sweeney is the founder of Epic Games: a powerhouse in the video game world, responsible for the Gears of War franchise and Unreal Engine, now in its fourth iteration of providing development tools to aspiring and established game developers. With Epic's status and resources, Sweeney today announced Unreal Dev Grants, a pool of $5 million available to anyone creating interesting projects in Unreal Engine 4. No strings -- or tractors -- attached.

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If you're still watching cable, it turns out that channels like TBS and TNT are now speeding up syndicated programs, classics films and other shows by as much as 7 percent. We hadn't noticed it much ourselves, but the trend was spotted by Snopes and others thanks to a YouTube user who compared the same programs aired now and several years ago. A Seinfeld episode that originally ran 25 minutes was nearly 22 after the process, letting the broadcaster fit in about six extra spots. As the WSJ pointed out, ads now run an average of 15.8 minutes per hour on cable, and one unnamed cable exec said that "it's a way to keep the revenue from going down as much as the ratings."

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A couple of weeks ago Microsoft's Phil Spencer teased a screenshot feature coming to the Xbox One and tonight the company announced it's rolling out to beta testers. Part of the planned March system update, the often-requested feature (that the PS4 has had since launch) will let gamers take a freeze-frame of the action in one of two ways: say "Xbox take a screenshot" (if they have a Kinect hooked up) or double tap the Xbox button on their controller, then press Y to take a picture. A quick demo video shows how it works, but really, it's not that complicated. One thing to note, is that it takes the screenshot as soon as you give the command or double tap the Xbox button, to make sure it captures what the user wants, instead of a game menu or something.

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The alien from, er, Alien

District 9 creator Neill Blomkamp gave sci-fi fans a brief glimmer of hope in January, when he teased that he had secretly been working on an Alien sequel that had (apparently) been scuttled. Well, it might be back on again -- Blomkamp is now claiming on Instagram (with support from Variety sources) that the project is "officially [his] next film." There's no word on the movie's plot or when it might hit theaters, but his sneak peek showed concept art that included Ripley in an alien-like suit, Weyland-Yutani's headquarters and the return of Aliens' Corporal Hicks.

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Beam projector jabbed into a lamp

Let's face it: most projectors aren't very useful outside of home theaters or boardrooms, even if they're packing some smarts. Beam may get you to change your mind, though. Its namesake Android-powered projector runs apps, streams media from your mobile gear (through AirPlay or Miracast) and starts tasks based on the time or what you're doing. You can play a video message when someone gets home, for instance, or load Netflix as soon as you turn on Bluetooth speakers. However, the design is the real party trick. While the 854 x 480 resolution and 100 lumen brightness are no great shakes, you can screw Beam into any standard light socket -- you don't have to hunt for a free wall outlet (or even a wall) if you're just looking to show off some vacation photos.

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Hulu Watchlist

Many streaming video services let you queue shows and keep track of what you're watching, but they're not normally smart about it -- it can take some effort to see everything in the 'right' order. Hulu thinks it has a smarter approach. Its new Watchlist feature unifies your favorites, queue and watched shows in a single feed that learns based on your habits. If you always watch Agent Carter as soon as it goes online, the next episode will be bumped to the front; if you're not in a rush to see Scandal (or haven't watched it yet), it'll be further back. Watchlist won't automatically reach mobile apps and the web until later this year, but you can volunteer to use it right now if you're curious.

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