Today would have been David Bowie’s 72nd birthday. Bowie passed away in 2016 after a battle with cancer, and both his musical prowess and cultural impact cannot be overstated. Bowie’s evolution from creating folk-rock to glam-rock to funk to new-wave and techno demonstrate his ability to remain at the forefront of innovation in popular music from the 1960’s through the 2000’s – an unmatched feat in the industry. Bowie’s artistic accomplishments extend well beyond music, with successful ventures into acting, painting, and… video games!
The Nomad Soul
In 1999, David Bowie was approached to work on the soundtrack of Quantic Dream’s The Nomad Soul (released in the U.S. as Omikron: The Nomad Soul). Rather than just producing music for the game, Bowie wanted a creative role as well. Bowie ended up playing two characters in the game – one was the lead singer of “The Dreamers,” a virtual band that performed in-game. The other was Boz (pictured above) – a blue, mystical being that exists only in electronic form. Bowie even visited a French motion-capture studio so his likeness could appear in his characters. Players could stumble upon The Dreamers in concert around Omikron City, marking the first time a real-life artist performed inside a video game. Bowie recorded eight songs for the game, all of which appeared on his 1999 album Hours.
While the game (released for PC and Sega Dreamcast) didn’t achieve commercial success in the U.S., it sold almost 500,000 copies in Europe and marks an interesting accolade in David Bowie’s creative career. The gaming legacy has since been carried on by Bowie’s son, award-winning director Duncan Jones, who is an avid gamer and directed the 2016 film Warcraft, based on the Blizzard franchise. In honor of Bowie’s birthday, there was an AR app released on the App Store and Google Play Store today called “David Bowie Is…” The app offers a virtual recreation of the touring exhibit of the same name, which has drawn two million visitors in 12 cities to date.