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Former Valve developer Michael Abrash joins Oculus as Chief Scientist

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Former Valve developer Michael Abrash, whose career includes time at Microsoft and id Software, announced today that he joined Oculus VR as Chief Scientist to work on the virtual reality headset technology.

In a blog entry written to the Oculus VR website, Abrash wrote about his journey from working on the Windows NT operating system to helping develop first-person shooter Quake, and how none of it was the "Metaverse" he'd aspired toward after reading the Neal Stephenson novel Snow Crash. "It was still, in the end, images on a screen, not Hiro Protagonist literally fencing for his life," he said.

Abrash said his reason for joining Oculus was because he could see that great VR is "clearly within reach," and now he "fully expects to spend the rest of [his] career pushing VR as far ahead as [he] can."

"It's great to be working with John [Carmack] again after all these years, and with that comes a sense of deja vu," he said. "It feels like it did when I went to id, but on steroids — this time we're working on technology that will change not just computer gaming, but potentially how all of us interact with computers, information, and each other every day.

"I think it's going to be the biggest game-changer I've ever seen — and I've seen quite a lot over the last 57 years. I can't wait to see how far we can take it."

Abrash, who joined Valve in 2011, is not the first developer from the company leave for Oculus. Valve lead engineer Atman Binstock joined the virtual reality headset company earlier this month as its new chief architect. id Software co-founder John Carmack, who has long been interested in virtual reality technology, also joined Oculus last year as Chief Technical Officer.

Social networking company Facebook announced its acquisition of Oculus VR earlier this week for $2 billion in cash and stock. Until the acquisition, the Oculus headset was thought of as a gaming-specific product, but the founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg believes it has enormous social potential.

"This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures," said Zuckerberg. "One day, we believe this kind of immersive, augmented reality will become a part of daily life for billions of people."