Japanese gamers are now able to apply for a closed beta test of PlayStation virtual environment, Home.

Home was first announced in July last year and then became subject to a number of delays that left gamers with doubts as to whether they would ever see it. It was first supposed to available in autumn last year, but then Sony said it would be delayed until Spring 2008. It was earlier this year that Sony said it would be delayed again until a beta test in the second half of this year. And here were now. Well in Japan at least.

Sony's virtual world will allow users to interact with other users via text and voice chat, and will utilise avatars with which people use to explore their environment and meet other people. Think of a cross between Second Life and slightly more advanced Nintendo Wiis, and you're pretty much there.

Applications are initially being accepted from 31st July until 11th August, and Sony expects to offer at least 10,000 gamers the opportunity to test it out.

During the beta stage users will have access to the service's Game Space, within which, users will be able to play the games that make up Bandai Namco's "Namco Museum" package, which include classics like PacMan.