When the annual PAX East convention kicks off this weekend, welcoming software developers and gamers from across the country to Boston for the annual three-day event, William Brierly plans on taking the concept of virtual reality to a whole new level.
Brierly, a Cambridge resident, is the brains behind “Soda Drinker” and “Soda Drinker Pro,” simplified, interactive first-person video games, available on XBox One, that have reached cult status since he first released them more than six years ago.
At the 2014 convention, Brierly was barraged by a steady wave of fanfare because of the popularity of his game, which lets users walk around in an alternate reality, sipping on soda and collecting soda points.
For this year’s PAX East event, he’s kicking it up a notch, and created a customized brand of actual soda that people can drink during gameplay, to compliment the buzz surrounding his game.
“I’ve been keeping this a secret for a very long time,” said Brierly, 33. “It’s kind of one of those things; every time we do something with a game, we try to think of what we could do to make it more fun. With the sodas, this was sort of the next logical step.”
Called “Bonus Soda,” a term used in his game, Brierly has worked exclusively with the Chattanooga, Tenn.-based manufacturer and bottling company Pure Sodaworks to develop a unique blend consisting of spices and cranberry flavor.
The sodas — they made roughly 150 batches, enough to fuel the frenzy of gamers expected to flock to PAX East starting Friday — will be distributed exclusively at the event, with the first 500 people who visit Brierly’s booth guaranteed to get a sample of the drink and a free copy of his game.
“It’s so unique and different from any flavor I have ever had,” Brierly said. “It fits in with the style of game, because there aren’t any other games like this one.”
When the Soda Drinker games first launched, Brierly was approached multiple times by big-name brands that wanted to insert their own colas into the interactive play, looking to cash in on his invention.
But Brierly deflected the advances, and held out until finally forming a partnership with Pure Sodaworks last year.
Matt Rogers, who owns the soda company producing Bonus Soda, said the fizzy drink is a carefully crafted concoction that he hopes will disrupt what’s out there today.
“In as much as the game is fun and quirky and different, we needed to have a soda to match. It ended up being something that was unexpected and unique,” Rogers said.
The blend uses pure cane sugar, and is gluten and preservative free. After PAX East it will be distributed nationally, and be available in stores across the country as well as online.