In the year 2022, the Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (VRMMORPG), Sword Art Online (SAO), is released. With the Nerve Gear, a virtual reality helmet that stimulates the user’s five senses via their brain, players can experience and control their in-game characters with their minds.
On November 6th, 2022, SAO released with a limited number of copies totaling 10,000, which is quickly sold out. On launch day the players logged on only to discover a short time later that they are unable to log out of the game. At the end of the first day, the game’s creator welcomes them to “his world” and informs the players that it is not a bug that is preventing them form leaving, but a feature of the game as he intended. He is holding them captive and reveals the only way out is to reach the 100th floor of the game’s tower and defeat the final boss. However, if their HP reaches zero, they not only die in the game, they die in the real world too. Also, if any attempt is made to remove or shut down the Nerve Gear the real world, they will also die. The story follows main protagonist Kirito, who is a “solo” player and has been branded a “beater” by the other players early on, (a player who was a beta tester for SAO, and thus branded a cheater due to their advanced knowledge of the game). When it is announced that the players of Sword Art Online can no longer log out, he is distraught like everyone else, but quickly overcomes the shock. He power levels to improve his odds of survival in the game, quickly emerging as a frontline clearer of floors known as the Black Swordsman.
I really fell in love this series as it has a realistic take on what it would be like on people if they were trapped in such a situation, how the psychological aspects of the game can have an effect the human psyche. It’s no longer a game, it real to them.
Sword Art Online (ソードアート・オンライン) is a Japanese light novel series by Reki Kawahara, which has been adapted into manga, an anime and a video game. You can watch Sword Art Online for free at Crunchyroll (with ads & some restrictions). I’ll post some 48 hour passes in the forms that removes ads & allows higher resolution streaming.