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Facebook poaches EA's The Sims' boss to lead its new social VR team

Rachel Rubin Franklin

Facebook has poached Electronic Arts’ vice president Rachel Rubin Franklin as the new head of its Social VR team.

Franklin has served as an executive producer at EA since 2011 where she oversaw the running of the studio behind the cult PC game The Sims.

In her new role at Facebook she will work with the Social VR leadership team including Michael Booth and Lucy Bradshaw to make the company’s Oculus Rift VR ambitions a reality.

Discussing Franklin’s arrival, Facebook’s chief technology officer, Mike Schroepfer, said: “It is a blast to fuse the experience of people who have developed many successful immersive online worlds with engineers who have decades of collective experience building Facebook.”

Details of the VR project were announced at a press conference last week where Mark Zuckerberg and heads of the VR team discussed their plans to use Oculus Rift VR headsets to create a space where friends could interact and play games with avatar versions of themselves.

Examples shown on stage included the ability to take a Messenger video call in VR, which has a holographic screen popping up from a virtual phone when wearing the headset. Facebook has also created what it calls a VR Emoji, which lets users change the facial expressions of their avatars with hand-based gestures like a shaking fist to convey anger.

Prior to her arrival at Facebook Franklin also worked at cloud gaming startup OnLive, as well as game studio Activision.

Having bought Oculus Rift for $2bn in 2014, Facebook has been developing new ways to use the technology beyond the traditional formats of just gaming.

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