David Bowie's Hidden Impact on Video Games

From "Metal Gear Solid" to "Omikron: The Nomad Soul," Bowie had a surprising presence.
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From "Metal Gear Solid" to "Omikron: The Nomad Soul," Bowie had a surprising presence.

With David Bowie's sudden and unexpected passing, we all can't help but look back and appreciate the Thin White Duke's impressive and varied musical career. But while it's simple to pull up his body of work on a music streaming service or cue up your vinyl, it's a little more difficult to appreciate the medium he influenced in other, underreported ways: video games.

Bowie's contributions to the video game world are significant, and many can actually be seen in the Metal Gear Solid stealth action series. It's clear that creator Hideo Kojima was a huge fan of the musician, as Kojima implemented several of Bowie's songs and references in the Metal Gear games. "Diamond Dogs," or the private military company led by Venom Snake of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain in the 1980s, is of course a direct reference to the song and album by the same name from Bowie. There are tons of references to Bowie material throughout Metal Gear as a whole, including "Space Oddity" and "The Man Who Sold the World", though covered by Ultravox vocalist Midge Ure.

Aside from his androgynous appearance offering a slate for characters far and wide throughout the video game universe, Bowie also had some direct input as far as gaming goes. It may come as a surprise to some that he actually created an album full of songs that ended up being tweaked for appearance in the 2000 Sega Dreamcast title Omikron: The Nomad Soul. The album, "Hours...", released in 1999 and made its debut before the game itself broke. In addition to several tracks on the album, Bowie composed remixes and instrumentals for Omikron, as well as lent some input for the game's plot line itself and made a cameo in-game as a revolutionary named Boz.

Of course we can't forget Bowie's several contributions to music and rhythm games, with his songs making appearances in games all over the map. You can belt out the mournful "Space Oddity" in Rock Band, Karaoke Revolution, and Rocksmith 2014. You can hear the uplifting "Everyone Says Hi" in Harmonix's cult classic PS2 title Amplitude. The sexy and danceable "Let's Dance" appears in the Nintendo 3DS title Elite Beat Agents. Nearly every music-related title out there in the video game industry features at least one Bowie track, in fact.

Bowie was truly a man of many talents, and it's clear he had several fans within different industries, especially video games. Next time you rock out to "Suffragette City" in Rock Band, think about the man who fell to earth and all his contributions.