Sword Art Online Kirito and Silica Battle

IBM Japan announced today that they are beginning on a new virtual reality project to try and bring the fictional world of the Sword Art Online light novels and anime closer to reality. They intend to create the in game world as close to the original vision as possible, and also to work on new VR technology to closer estimate the devices in the fictional future. To help create the world, they are using their proprietary IBM Cognitive System to give the characters and systems in the game more human decision making, and to utilize their SoftLayer cloud computing infrastructure.

Instead of using a video game controller, they intend to use body movements. Will this be similar to Kinect, only with a VR headset on? Or will they create new ways to utilize the technology? The project still is fairly early on and details are sparse. While the technology is obviously not quite ready for full immersion gear, it looks like they may be using this platform to get us closer to that future.

Reiki Kawahari is the creator of the Sword Art Online series and he has released a statement that says that the project is,

“Completely different from any game experience so far.”

An alpha testing phase is planned for March 18-20 in Tokyo and they are taking applications at their website until March 4. It looks like there is a limit of 208 entrants, so if you are reading this and capable of meeting the requirements, you better get in there quick. For the rest of us, it will be fascinating to hear what stories come out filtered through some likely very stringent NDAs.

Lastly, they have also provided a new trailer for the project. Much of it is showing the events of Season 1 SAO, but stick around and check out a few concepts of the prototype devices and game assets being constructed.



William Haderlie
Born in the 1970's, I've been an avid participant for much of video game history. A lifetime of being the sort of supergeek entrenched in the sciences and mathematics has not curbed my appreciation for the artistry of video games, cinema, and especially literature.