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Yes, you heard that right. Our dreams of frolicking through bright, virtual meadows, murdering innocent pigs, and slaying menacing minotaurs is finally becoming a reality.

Being stuck in virtual reality has always been a popular (and somewhat overused) plot point for both fiction and anime. However, exploring the world of Aincrad is not going to be bound to the fantasy world of Sword Art Online anymore, as IBM announces that the use of virtual reality, to bring the SAO to life.

I was a bit skeptical at the news at first. Is the technology we have today capable of replicating that, of SAO? The answer to that, however, is a tentative “No, not yet”.

But before you go putting up your virtual sword (or swords, for all you anime protagonists out there), hear me out. Sword Art Online’s “Nervegear” was developed in the year 2022 according to the show itself, a full seven years from now. It’s true that technology, as it is today, is incapable of replicating the fine details of Aincrad in all its glory, we’ve already made huge advances into the field of virtual reality in such a short time. Sword Art Online: The Beginning Project, as it has aptly been named, is an ambitious project that shows lots of promise as the first officially announced VR-MMO, using IBM’s Softlayer cloud service, as well as its own cognitive computing system.

An IBM-Sponsored event will be taking place in Tokyo from March 18 to March 20, inviting 208 lucky players from Tokyo’s metropolitan area to alpha test their VR-MMO. An application form can be found on their project page, and those who qualify will be invited to the venue as the world’s first “beaters”.

For the rest of us however, our dream of spelunking through Aincrad with Kirito and Asuna will just have to wait. I’m super excited to see how this project will turn out, and how VR software will change in the next couple years.

Until then however, happy hunting.

– Your daily dose of anime news