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IBM Japan wants 208 people to be scanned into 3-D avatars and put into a virtual world designed after the one depicted in anime Sword Art Online (and hopefully return).

On February 22 IBM Japan announced that it is teaming up with hit light novel, manga, and anime franchise Sword Art Online. Using several components of its technology IBM hopes to recreate the story’s virtual reality massive multiplayer online role-playing game (VRMMORPG) as faithfully as possible (minus the real-world deaths preferably) in Sword Art Online The Beginning.

That same evening IBM also announced that it is looking for 208 volunteers to take part in alpha testing from March 18 to 20 between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. in Tokyo. Those selected with be scanned for their own 3-D avatars to participate in a VR environment hosted on IBM’s SoftLayer cloud service.

Before you go quitting your job to take part in this first glimpse of an actual Sword Art Online, remember that it is alpha testing. This means it’ll be kind of like playing the Atari E.T. game for eight hours…albeit a really, really, really cool version of E.T.

UPDATE: Vlocus recently ran an article revealing that Sword Art Online The Beginning is NOT an actual alpha-testing, but a figurative one used to demonstrate some of IBM’s technology that could be used to make such a game. However, no actual game is scheduled to be released…damn.

Source: Sword Art Online The Beginning, Netlab
Images: YouTube/Sword Art Online The Beginning Project