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IBM Japan has created the VRMMO project Sword Art Online: The Beginning, and when they asked for 200 Tokyo-based Alpha Testers the other week, over 100,000 people tried to sign up. Why all the excitement? For one thing, this may be the first time a fully realized 3D Immersive Virtual Reality MMOG was ever created based on a series of Lite Novels and Anime stories. For another, the books and Anime are all about living in a fully realized 3D Immersive Virtual Reality MMOG, which gives it just that touch of recursive irony that can really draw the fans. Finally (although I could keep pointing out additional reasons), this is IBM; who better to build the future of computer enhanced VR environments in the year when VR goes mainstream?

They are deploying their Cognitive System architecture, previously used to create tools like Watson, to be the basis of their AI control for NPC and Environment functions, which has to rival the power of the systems described in the books and Anime. They are also invoking SoftLayer, their own software-switched network control system that builds cloud environments with the click of an icon and actively keeps them robust and lightning-fast. Here is a video to give you the idea of what they are doing. If you are an SAO fan, be aware that the Alpha testing is over, and the Beta testing is about to roll out! Be sure to check out the Sword Art Online: The Beginning YouTube Channel for more video updates.