IBM Japan is taking on virtual reality in the form of a VRMMO by sponsoring a VR version of Reki Kawahara’s Sword Art Online. If you’re not familiar with the property, it’s a series of Japanese anime and manga based on a series of “light novels,” which target middle to high school students. The series takes place in 2022, when a new VRMMORPG (virtual reality massive multi-player online role-playing game) has launched, and the game’s beta testers have been stuck in the virtual world. Well, in a very meta move, IBM Japan is taking applications for 208 people to alpha test the game, which is called Sword Art Online: The Beginning. The site is in Japanese and you have to be in Tokyo for the testing. (At least, that’s what Google translate tells us.)
If you apply and are selected by lottery, you get to check it out in Tokyo on March 18 and 20, 2016. The deadline to apply is March 4 and you have to be at least 18 years of age. You’ll be scanned, then you’ll get to check out the game using IBM Cloud Services and SoftLayer technologies. You can take a look at the video (which is also in Japanese) to get a sense of the project. Sword Art Online is currently available on Netflix and Hulu so you can watch that as well.
How much virtual reality have you guys played so far? Have you check out Oculus Rift yet? (The video shows OR, but will reportedly support HTC Vive as well.) Are you a fan of Sword Art Online? How much does the description remind you of Ready Player One? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this, and of course, the future of virtual reality. Tweet me/us @JennaBusch/@Nerdist and let us know if you’re excited for the game. If by some chance you’re in Tokyo and get selected, we expect you tweet us a zillion pics!