Bungie addressed the recent controversy surrounding a recently removed piece of gear from Destiny 2 with ties to hate groups and white supremacists today in a new blog post where the company admits that while the reference to the "kek" meme was intentional, Bungie was unaware of the recent, more hateful connotation of the meme.
In this week's official blog update, Bungie wrote that the design "was initially created as part of gear foundry explorations in June of 2015. Graphic designers routinely reference real world art, iconography, typeface, and other design elements to inform the choices they make," which apparently the "kek" meme was a part of.
Bungie is quick to note that this design was from before the meme—which originated in World of Warcraft before becoming popular on internet spaces like 4chan—became what it is today.
Ironically, the design was flagged during the internal review process, but it was to determine whether or not the team wanted the original meme reference in the game in the first place. "[T]he armor piece was eventually flagged by another 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."
Bungie added, "The more contemporary, vile derivation that has been repurposed by hate groups was not surfaced through this process, and therefore, the armor was approved to ship."
Kek did indeed start as an early internet meme, but recent variations of it have been classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a favorite symbol among white supremacists.
Bungie is still investigating the company's creative process but says that "there was no degree of malicious intent from anyone on our team." However, Bungie says that the company, "[does] recognize that the design in question is close enough to warrant removal from the game." Bungie also announced that the studio is working on ways to more thoroughly vet game content so as to not repeat this incident with "inappropriate imagery."
"We aren't asking you for the benefit of the doubt. We know we are judged by our actions. We want to thank the members of our community, and the press, for bringing this matter to attention," concludes Bungie in its statement.