Mobile World Congress 2016, a big tech expo that takes place every year in Barcelona, Spain, really had a lot on display as far as Virtual Reality (VR) is concerned. Not only did the HTC Vive finally get a release date and price, but Mark Zuckerberg himself made a surprise appearance to announce how Virtual Reality is the future. If this is the case, then there is going to be a lot of VR content needed fast, and IBM Japan wants to make some inspired by the popular anime series Sword Art Online.
According to Techno Buffalo, IBM Japan, along with help from Bandai Namco, Kadokawa, Apniplex, and other Japanese entertainment companies want to make a virtual reality MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) based on the world of Sword Art Online.
If you aren't familiar with Sword Art Online, it is an anime series that can be found on Netflix, and it is about people playing a fantasy game in an immersive fantasy world that feels similar to the popular MMORPG World of Warcraft, which is inspired by early pen and paper RPGs Dungeons and Dragons.
The Sword Art Online show had its virtual players interact using their minds, but this real version will use IBM's SoftLayer cloud computing technology and "explore the idea of using cognitive computing, the simulation of human thought processes in a computerized model."
It looks like there is a video below showing the design, which is clearly modeled after the aesthetic look of Sword Art Online. So far, there is nothing in the video that promises a release date, and when it comes to VR technology, we really haven't established any platform system as yet. That is, it is possible that games that play on the soon-to-be-released Oculus might not be able to be played on the HTC Vive. Pretty soon, VR will have content that is exclusive to certain headsets, just like certain games only have Xbox One or PS4 similar exclusivity.
It would appear that if you are going to make a VR game, then you might as well "borrow" from some of the best source materials. It actually makes a lot of sense to borrow from Sword Art Online just as a lot of great video games have borrowed from the Star Wars franchise.
In fact, I feel a need to bring this up, but Sword Art Online is not just a fantasy setting. The anime is based on a premise that people from all over the world have essentially put themselves in a Virtual Reality simulator in this MMORPG. The first episode opens with the creator of the Sword Art Online game telling all the players that they are trapped within the virtual world and they cannot escape. Does anyone else see the irony here?