A week after the release of Destiny 2, developer Bungie is removing a piece of equipment from the game due to its similarity to a hate symbol used by alt-right ideology members.
Bungie announced the decision earlier today in a tweet, although the exact armor was not mentioned. Bungie CEO and founder, Pete Parsons, also tweeted on the situation and said the companies values “place the highest emphasis on inclusion of all people and respect for all who work with us or play our games.”
Instead, a Reddit thread about the content removal eventually shared that the gear in question was the Road Complex AA1 gauntlet. The Bellevue, Wash. company clarified the similarity to online hate group Cult of Kek’s flag was unintentional.
2/2 Our deepest apologies. This does NOT represent our values, and we are working quickly to correct this. We renounce hate in all forms.
— Bungie (@Bungie) September 12, 2017
The Souther Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which chronicles hate groups, has an entry on the so-called “satirical religion” and the group’s actions. Originally, the word ‘kek’ was an otherwise harmless in-game translation of ‘lol’ in World of Warcraft. While Warcraft is nearly 13 years old, the abbreviation gained traction on 4chan, a website almost synonymous with alt-right rhetoric (Reddit, too, has its own problems).
As bizarre as it might sound, the Cult of Kek even has its own flag, called the “Kekistan flag,” which bears a resemblance to a “German Nazi war flag,” according to the SPLC. The green flag has an off-center ‘kek’ reading both horizontal and vertical and 4chan’s logo in the upper left corner. A similar color scheme and two backward ‘Ks’ can be found on the in-game gauntlets.
In the same post, the legal advocacy organization notes the flag was included in a poster for an Aug. 12 “Unite the Right” demonstration in Charlottesville, Va. This rally turned violent and led to one death and 34 injuries after an alt-right supporter drove a car into a crowd of counter protestors.
Today’s removal of the gauntlets coincided with the game’s scheduled maintenance, which was supposed to end at 11 a.m. PDT. During this time, Bungie addressed the imagery issue and extended the estimated completion time to 2 p.m. Shortly after the hour, the servers were back online and the armor removed from the “shared game world,” as the developer said in a tweet. A fix for the gauntlet’s image in inspections and icons will go live next week.