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“Omikron: The Nomad Soul” is a real video game that was available to play on Microsoft Windows computers in November 1999, but it wasn’t developed by Microsoft or Bill Gates.
The game has nothing to do with the coronavirus pandemic or the new variant, spelled “omicron.”
The term omicron is from the Greek alphabet, which has been used by health officials to name coronavirus variants. The word has also been used to name stars and appears in multiple popular culture references.
Ever since it was discovered, people have continued to use the new COVID-19 omicron variant to make false claims about the pandemic. Some claimed its name was evidence that the whole thing was planned, while others spread a photoshopped poster for a non-existent film called "The Omicron Variant."
"DID YOU KNOW?" text on a Facebook post graphic asks. "Omikron was the name of a 1999 video game by Microsoft and Bill Gates about demons pretending to be humans and harvesting their souls." One video circulating online fuels conspiracy theories further as it shows the game’s anti-government plot featuring a digitally illustrated David Bowie-like character.
The game is real and was available to play on Microsoft Windows computers in November 1999, but it wasn’t developed by Microsoft or Gates.
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
"Omikron: The Nomad Soul" was created by Quantic Dream, a French developer based in Paris founded by a man named David Cage. Bowie made the music for the game, and the game features a character who shares Bowie’s voice and appearance.
It was released on Sega’s home video game console Dreamcast in 2000, and it’s still available today on Steam, a video game digital distribution service.
The adventure game follows players as their souls enter the futuristic city of Omikron, located in an alternate dimension. Players explore the world while fighting off demons who try to trap their souls.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation told PolitiFact that the claims about Gates and the game are false, and a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that neither the company nor Gates developed the game.
Meanwhile, the new coronavirus variant’s name of omicron follows an established pattern of naming variants after letters in the Greek alphabet. The first four variants of concern identified by the World Health Organization — alpha, beta, gamma and delta — are all Greek letters.
"These labels were chosen after wide consultation and review of many potential naming systems," the WHO said when it announced it would use the Greek alphabet to name variants. The organization said it convened "an expert group of partners from around the world to do so, including experts who are part of existing naming systems, nomenclature and virus taxonomic experts, researchers and national authorities."
It’s not unreasonable to see why writers would pick the word omicron for futuristic popular culture references as it’s been used by astronomers for years to name multiple stars, like Omicron Persei and Omicron Centauri. The aliens in the animated show "Futurama," for example, are from a planet called Omicron Persei 8.
Social media posts claim Microsoft and Bill Gates created a 1999 video game called "Omikron."
This is wrong. A real game called Omikron was available on Microsoft in 1999, but neither Gates nor Microsoft created it, and it had nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic, as these posts suggest. The term omicron is from the Greek alphabet, which has been used by health officials to name coronavirus variants. The word has also been used to name stars and appears in multiple popular culture references.
We rate this False.
Facebook post, Dec. 4, 2021
Twitter post, Nov. 30, 2021
IGN, Omikron: the Nomad Soul, July 5, 2000
Steam, Omikron, Accessed Dec. 16, 2021
PolitiFact, The new coronavirus variant is named for a letter in the Greek alphabet, Nov. 30, 2021
World Health Organization, WHO announces simple, easy-to-say labels for SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Interest and Concern, May 31, 2021
Omicron stars, Accessed Dec. 16, 2021
Email interview, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dec. 16, 2021
Email interview, Microsoft media department, Dec. 16, 2021
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