Bungie Explains How Destiny 2's 'Hate Symbol' Faux Pas Happened

By Matt Wales on at

Earlier this week, there was a bit of a kerfuffle when Destiny 2 players discovered a piece of in-game armour that appeared to feature a symbol closely associated with alt-right hate groups. Bungie quickly issued an apology, and removed the offending gear from the game. In the name of transparency, the studio has now offered greater insight into how the symbol appeared in the first place.

In a new post on Bungie's official blog the studio explains that "Earlier this week we were made aware that a graphical element on one of Destiny 2’s armour pieces bore close resemblance to an internet meme that has been subsequently repurposed to represent hate and intolerance. This was completely unintentional."

"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."

Bungie explains that the offending gear design—which closely resembled the "KEK" meme that originated in World of Warcraft, but that has since been appropriated by alt-right groups and incorporated into a flag design mimicking that of the German Nazis—was originally created back in June 2015.

The studio's team of graphic designers "routinely reference real world art, iconography, typeface, and other design elements to inform the choices they make", explains Bungie. In this instance, the reference material that inspired the problematic logo was, says the studio, based on sports team graphic designs, and other "primitive shapes and chevrons that were used to permeate our Guardian class iconography".

Image via Southern Poverty Law Center

Interestingly, it appears that the offending design was eventually flagged by the internal team responsible for reviewing content for cultural, geographical, and other sensitive issues, "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."

"We are digging in to determine how we can more deeply vet our game content to shield us, and our community, from inappropriate imagery," Bungie concludes, "Though we are still investigating our creative process in full, we know there was no degree of malicious intent from anyone on our team."

While the gear that started the controversy is no longer in the game, the offending symbol can still be found in UI icons and preview screens. These, says Bungie, will be completely removed in a patch due next week.