You can’t log out!

Last week we announced how 100,000 gamers applied, but only 208 alpha testers were chosen in a lottery to be transported to the year 2022 and into the Virtual Reality Massive Multiplayer Online Game (VRMMO) Sword Art Online: The Beginning (SAO) through an epic virtual reality experiment developed by IBM Japan.

The game plot is that MMORPG players logged into play the game, but they can’t log out. They have to fight their way out ala Hunger Games style. In this post, we share the project results!

Powered by SoftLayer and Watson Sword Art Online: The Beginning conducted its first VR experience in an undisclosed “mysterious lab” somewhere in Tokyo complete with large-scale VR equipment like Navugia (NerveGear) and a staff in white lab coats who took full body 3D scans of the alpha testers to create their custom look-alike avatars for game play.

Cogs presented hand mirrors to the testers to inspect the anime versions of themselves. Overhead, in individual pods NerveGear helmets dangled and shoe sensors awaited the players.

Under the direction of SAO author Reki Kawahara, the players took a detour to the year 2016 and into a secret origin story of the game’s alpha test that has never been shared before and interacted with Kirito and Asuna (original characters).

This high tech lab environment allowed four players to compete at a time. Testers put on their NerveGear helmets and various VR gear that included an Oculus Rift (Developer Kit 2) head-tracking and visual device, Ovrvision and Leap Motion for hand movement, an MS Kinect 2 for body movement plus special foot sensors to allow control using body movements without controllers were immediately dropped into an immersive 3D environment and the base of the town square of the “city of the beginning.” Here players began to learn how they could manipulate objects and their world before attempting to fight Gleam Eyes (an original character from the 74th floor) and the three other testers next to them.

A participant and alpha tester who goes by Twitter name Nagare was impressed with his VRMMO experience in real life declaring, “IBM is amazing!”

The leader of Communication & Brand Experience of IBM Japan Yukiko Yamaguchi said that Sword Art Online The Beginning is a project that challenged whether the real world of virtual reality and game world can combine to see how far the latest technology will go. He wanted to take this opportunity to show the exciting power of Softlayer and Watson to achieve new opportunities in gaming and to show the world what is possible in the future.

The project showed the heavy interest from fans and the potential to launch a full-scale version of the game where Softlayer’s cloud service could easily extend to thousands of virtual players simultaneously and Watson’s cognitive computing would enhance game play. Is a full-fledged VR game in the works as a result of this project? Stay tuned!

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40 comments on"Game or reality? Players live to tell in IBM’s VRMMO Sword Art Online Project"

  1. Will be able to not move the body as the anime? I mean what if we have to move our bodies like we do in real Life with that helmet on. We will or might get hit on something if so. Would be great if you IBM would try to make so we Control our bodies like the anime hehe. Just saying 🙂 I am very happy that this game will come within 2022.

    • AnimeLover12 May 14, 2016

      yea same, we are still fresh in around 2020 hueheh

    • Me to! I love to play the game!

    • Arthur Augusto October 21, 2018

      Acho que diferentemente eles irão aplicar o sistema BMI como se fosse de um hospital para calcular problemas neurológicos no cérebro e irão reorganizar os pulsos elétricos na coluna replicando o procedimento do anime. Se puderem fazer isso vamos ser pica da favela meu.

  2. I hope they make this for every country. I would love to play this.

  3. About 5-6 months ago in school i was thinking about something like this but ofc i dunno how to make it. For legs movement why dont u use something that works for treadmill so it will be more comfortable to move treadmill will move and move and will make easier to walk and run than to move ur feet up and down. I hope someone at ibm that works for sao project read this and think about it. Im in no position to complain at all but this is my opinion thanks.

  4. i love sao i wish it comes in all countrys

  5. It is possible to no sin VR and to not move in real life but we would have to connect nerve system and the brain to work then they would have to find out different ideas that work. ( hope someone from there is listening although I have heard they closed down)

  6. Why don’t try to combine the NerveGear from IBM with the EMOTIV’s technology ?

  7. I just cant wait!! I just cant believe that that there making it, once I hear that its out then I’m buying it right away!

  8. U didn’t make nerve gear just vr gear it’s not being controlled by nerves or the brain just by motion camera’s on the helmet to watch what the arms are doing and sensors on the shoes to mark how are lags are moving with the y, x, z cords that’s all it is. Sorry for this but I’m just a really big sao fan

  9. We don’t want an Occulus, though! We want nerve gear! Some people like yours truly can’t swing freely irl without getting sick.

  10. Spenser Dugal November 25, 2016

    My dreams are getting closer to reality

  11. If only we were the same age as in show by 2022 ill be 21 when the characters in show were 16-18 years old

  12. Why? But i bet when the Nerve Gear comes out it will only be in Japan for a while and I am in America which sucks for me because i will get the gear after a long time and it will be expensive

  13. Victor Alves December 08, 2016

    Hi, I like so much this innovation that I can’t to stop searching. So I found about “Navigating a 2D Virtual World Using Direct Brain Stimulation” that is a study recently conducted by researchers at the University of Washington has proven that it will soon be possible to play video games devoid of graphics or audio. I don’t know what IBM intends to the game but I thought that the way to begin creating a simillar game to the Anime.

  14. Guys is this real? Wow i am saving money for 2020! But can someone answer is this thing going to be legit? And if it is then we have to do something about school system so we have more time 😛

  15. i hope it is going to be like in anime…Dont want to be disapointed 🙁

  16. I want this game will come to viet nam. Although I know these countries in the world dislike us. But I decided that, if the game to Vietnam, we will be the best player in the game.

  17. I wish that is true ahaha because im now 15 years old i dont want to play if im 40+ just saying im practicing in real world to be the best gamer in this game i wish im gonna be the best gamer in philippines yeah ahaha.

  18. IBM Sword art online The begining Is Great But That Still Far from real Nerve Gear Keep fight Ibm for make REAL NerveGear

  19. Si pudieran deseo unirme para ser un voluntario de la inmersión aumentada y quiero ayudar con ideas innovadoras esto tiene que volverse una realidad no sólo un sueño de niños veo el gran potencial en esta tecnología

  20. Nick Robinson April 26, 2017

    they should not be using screens but enter the dreams and try to crack away to let us play in are dreams then VR then that would be the next big gaming console for us who ever cracks it will get alot of money

  21. Kaszyfur Rahman May 02, 2017

    Can the foot sensor not be combined with the nervegear?

  22. Man, if they actually get this to work im buyin it. Love the anime, but the games for console just dont cut it. (Sorry bandai) but if they could figure out how to tap in to the electrical signals from our brains, then the nerves should follow suit… our bodies run on impulses, i mean, its simple, yet difficult at the same time… something to think about

  23. El truco esta en añadir al NerveGear unos sensores neurológicos que lean nuestras señales eléctricas que envía nuestro cerebro al cuerpo y las traduzca a lenguaje informático, para que así nuestro avatar en el juego reaccione. Tambian habría que instalar al casco unos transmisores eléctricos para que con una pequeña descarga anule cualquier impulso eléctrico que envíe nuestro cerebro al cuerpo, a través de descargas eléctricas es como se consigue el efecto de inmersión completa al juego. Es un proyecto muy interesante aun así creo que les falta mucho por pulir e crear.

  24. I cant wait for this I love sao and will go to japan for it xD

  25. HI,I’m Luffman,I want to say, that I have a theory about this technology, a very very simple theory.
    and also my theory is very similar to SAO anime version

  26. Hi,

    I’m really glad that IBM has taken this project, not necessarily for the game itself but for the technique, if they can take it far enough that you don’t have to move like in the anime. If they can accomplish this everybody who is atleast paralyzed from below can find the joy of walking again, even if it’s only VR. If they are doing it so they can make the dreams of fans come true, I wouldn’t comlain because I’m also a fan.

    Just a thought of me, if we are already able to read the brainsignals to move our muscles for instance, why don’t we go from that point out to intercept those signals and convert those to usable signals for the NerveGear, because we already have a method of reading/seeing those signals.

    I don’t really know what I’m talking about but it was just a thought that came to mind and it’s probably very bad explained, sorry about that.

    I hope the development will be succesful and the game with a log out button.

  27. So cool, I’m a female gamer and I’d love to see this on the market one day!!
    Getting my hands on that and being able to feel like I’m in the VR world, so ready 😋

  28. so ibm is amazing and i can’t wait for sao but i would love to know when do they think it will come out. GOOD LUCK IBM. plz make it possible anyways as again good luck

  29. Hay guys when are thay going to move forward with this its been 2 years

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