Die In-Game, Die IRL: Oculus Founder Recreates Sword Art Online Anime

Die In-Game, Die IRL: Oculus Founder Recreates Sword Art Online Anime

For those who aren’t in the know, the Japanese anime Sword Art Online was released 10 years ago to become a worldwide cultural phenomenon. It had a wildly interesting premise that inspired a lot of shows and pop culture that came after it. To celebrate its 10th anniversary as well as other important dates in the show, Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey recreated the Sword Art Online game’s mechanics with a one-of-one concept machine. It’s simple: if you die in the game, the machine is fully capable of ending your life for real.

Just a quick introduction to Sword Art Online, which millions, including the Oculus founder and myself, are a fan of. It’s based in 2022, and a videogame has just been released to the public. It’s the first full-dive Virtual Reality game ever, rendering the users unconscious as they are teleported to a virtual game world with all of their senses intact. People are immediately amazed by the realism of the environment, the monsters, and the game world – with intense sword fights, exploration, and systems closely emulating real life. Unfortunately, the developer of the game locks the players from logging out, and dying in the game would trigger microwaves in the NerveGear console to roast the player’s real-life brain. Due to its internal battery, unplugging it would only auto-trigger the mechanism. The only way to end the game is for a player to clear all its 100 monster-ridden floors.

The game’s release day is set on November 6, 2022 which is the reason why this “invention” has been announced within the same timeframe (as well as other 10th anniversary festivities). Its creator goes in-depth about how his VR business was inspired by the show and also boomed because of it. The Oculus SDK is even modeled after the show’s World Seed, allowing developers to create distinct Virtual Reality worlds and universes from this little piece of tech.

He and his wife have maintained a close relationship with the writer of the show, even cosplaying as its characters and having personalized figures at a moment in time.

He then proudly announces that he’s recreated part of the NerveGear. Unfortunately, it’s not the full-dive VR tech, but the part that kills you. Oculus founder Palmer Luckey had this to say about his Sword Art Online rendition: “The idea of tying your real life to your virtual avatar has always fascinated me – you instantly raise the stakes to the maximum level and force people to fundamentally rethink how they interact with the virtual world and the players inside it.  Pumped-up graphics might make a game look more real, but only the threat of serious consequences can make a game feel real to you and every other person in the game.”

In the show, the NerveGear contained the aforementioned built-in microwave that did the dirty work. Here, he used three explosive-charge modules instead. These are designed to explode once a photosensor inside the unit detects a certain screen color at a specific frequency; as of now, it’s the most common red with “GAME OVER” text. Developers can easily work around this trigger, on the off-chance that this device actually comes to market. We doubt it ever will.

Palmer concludes by explaining that it isn’t a perfect system. He’s still working on anti-tamper devices, like in the show, which automatically trigger the explosion when a third-party attempts to remove the headset. As there are a huge number of factors that could accidentally trigger it, he determines that the final decision should be left to a high-intelligence agent who can determine whether or not the guidelines for termination have truly been met.

It’s a concept that will likely never see the light of day, but it’s an awesome homage to the anime and an iconic piece of pop culture. All we know is that, dying part aside, we’d love to play a full dive VR within our lifetimes.









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