Earlier this week, when it became clear that a gauntlet in Destiny 2 resembled a “Kekistan” flag design that has been repurposed by neo-Nazis, developer Bungie was quick to apologize and work to remove the item from the game. Now, the developer is using a public blog post to try to explain how the symbol ended up in the game in the first place.
Community Manager David “DeeJ” Dague writes that the gauntlet in question, which features a “kek” symbol that resembles the “Kekistan flag” popularized by 4chan, was originally created by the game’s developers back in June of 2015. Dague says the gauntlet was one of many items in the game that “reference real world art, iconography, typeface, and other design elements” and that “some of the reference imagery featured the simple mirrored chevron shapes found in the finished piece.”
That gauntlet was eventually flagged by an internal Bungie team that reviews content for “cultural, geographical, and other sensitive issues,” Dague writes. “Unfortunately, that review was conducted to explore whether or not we were comfortable with the connection to the original, innocuous ‘kek’ internet meme. The more contemporary, vile derivation that has been repurposed by hate groups was not surfaced through this process, and therefore, the armor was approved for ship.”
As Know Your Meme explains, the “kek” meme did start out as a pretty innocuous replacement for “lol” that started to become popular in games like Starcraft and World of Warcraft more than a decade ago. In recent months, though, the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified the meme, and the similarly repurposed Pepe the Frog meme, as “a favorite new way for white nationalists to troll liberals, while spreading their meme-driven strategy.”
Dague is clear in calling the kek imagery in Destiny 2 an oversight and says directly that “we know there was no degree of malicious intent from anyone on our team.” That said, Dague says Bungie isn’t “asking you for the benefit of the doubt. We know we are judged by our actions.” The team is working “to determine how we can more deeply vet our game content to shield us, and our community, from inappropriate imagery,” he added.
“We want everyone to know their identity is welcome in our studio and in the worlds we create. This isn’t merely a platitude, but an official pillar we hold ourselves, and our work to. It is also a clarion call for the type of people we want to bring into our studio to help us make better games.”