There are a lot of books, shows, games, and films that have wrestled with the idea of virtual reality before it was, well, a reality. Surprisingly, few have acted on making those visions concrete. Recently Yosuke Futami, a producer for the popular anime series Sword Art Online (a show that straddles with the idea of people being trapped within a virtual reality massively-multiplayer-online videogame), explained his own reasoning for why the series hasn’t made its own leap to actual VR. And they’re not for the reasons one might initially think.
In an interview with Anime Now!, Futami detailed that while there are plenty of games in-line with the Sword Art Online universe, none so far have tackled any sort of official VR development (though there have been fleeting whispers of such a game). “Of course, I want to make a Sword Art Online VR game,” Futami told the site. “But making a Sword Art Online game on VR right now is exceedingly difficult. […] With today’s VR devices, if you cut at your opponent, there would be no accompanying physical sensation. That’s the biggest drawback.”
With VR as it is today, players can’t physically feel anything within a virtual space. But in the Sword Art Online series, if you’re injured within VR, you feel it in reality. That includes dying. Or at least, that’s the theory. In our VR, people cannot feel what’s going on in their environment unless they’re equipped with a rare haptic-enabling device, like the sensory suit Skinterface. (And there’s certainly no chance of death.) Sword Art Online isn’t alone in being something fictional with its roots being more akin to actual reality, like a Matrix-like simulation. “So perhaps, until we can add something like [physical feedback] in, perhaps it’s better not to make a Sword Art Online VR game,” Futami concluded.
Sorry, there will probably never be a Sword Art Online MMORPG VR game. But you can read Anime Now!’s full interview with Futami here.