David Bowie: To mark his passing The Nomad Soul is now free

Update: Square Enix is giving away free keys to Omikron: The Nomad Soul until 9.00am GMT 22 January 2016 (while stocks last). Here over here to get your copy. 

This week David Bowie passed away at the far-too-young age of 69. Although he will be rightly remembered as one of the most influential musicians of his time, Bowie was also a technological pioneer. For starters, he holds the Guinness World Record for “first artist-created internet service provider” – BowieNet – launched in 1998 with the specific purpose of bringing exclusive Bowie music and paraphernalia to fans. “Where vast archives of music and information could be accessed, views stated and ideas exchanged, Bowie himself said at the time.

A couple of years later, Bowie turned his attention to the burgeoning world of video games. In 2000, Bowie starred in Quantic Dream’s

Omikron: The Nomad Soul, as a fugitive revolutionary called Boz, who exists on Omikron’s computer network.

Bowie also had a great deal of involvement in The Nomad Soul‘s soundtrack, writing a number of songs specifically for the game that would later be rejigged for the album Hours… You could even discover secret gigs in the game world, where you could watch Bowie’s avatar perform with the fictional band “The Dreamers”.

Personally, I loved The Nomad Soul. Even though it jammed far too many mechanics into the mix, the atmosphere of the game was unlike anything I’d experienced at the time. The fourth-wall-breaking narrative was genuinely unsettling at points, and the world of Omikron felt messy and adult. Bowie’s soundtrack was a large part of that.

He didn’t appear in any games after this, but here’s to Bowie taking a punt on a nascent art form. RIP David.

Next: How real life imitates the games we play

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