Destiny 2 Developer Bungie Didn't Know Kek Meme Was Co-Opted by White Supremacists

Destiny 2 Developer Bungie Didn't Know Kek Meme Was Co-Opted by White Supremacists

The reference to the original meme was intentional.

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.

Side-by-side comparison

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.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Matt Kim

News Editor

Matt Kim is a former freelance writer who's covered video games and digital media. He likes video games as spectacle and is easily distracted by bright lights or clever bits of dialogue. He also once wrote about personal finance, but that's neither here nor there.

Related articles

BitSummit Announces Online Showcase BitSummit Gaiden For End of June

The indie expo returns as a digital showcase.

USG Notebook: Now Isn't a Great Time to Start Your Dream PC Build

Turns out building a new machine wasn't an uncommon idea.

The World Ends With You Resurfaces in Upcoming Anime Expo Key Art

But not much else is teased beyond that.

You may also like

Where to Watch Today's The Last of Us Part 2 Gameplay Showcase

This may be the last big preview of what Naughty Dog has in store for us.

Marvel's Avengers Is Getting a Gameplay Showcase in June

Crystal Dynamics is busy assembling something for us to see.

Street Fighter 5 Is Getting One More Season of New Content

Five fighters, three new arenas, one last hurrah.

Report: PlayStation 5 Showcase Slated "As Early As Next Week"

Several reports are surfacing of a PS5 event, and soon.