As part of Halo Infinite’s Juneteenth Celebrations (an event to commemorate the freeing of enslaved African-Americans) developer 343 Industries added some new cosmetic items to the game’s multiplayer. It was soon discovered that one of these items — a nameplate palette option — was titled ‘Bonobo’, a variety of ape.
In a swift move, the team has since altered the name of the palette to ‘Freedom’, along with issuing a statement on the content change. Here’s what head of 343 Industries, Bonnie Ross, had to say:
343’s John Junyszek also addressed the issue in response to fan concerns on Twitter. Junyszek says that the name actually refers to an internal developer tool used at 343 Industries, one that appears to have originated in the Bungie era of Halo.
@Kaloudz Pallete in question here is to celebrate Juneteenth, commemorating emancipation of enslaved African Americans. And naming it “Bonobo”, species of ape, is errm.. problematic.
I’m always reluctant to accuse people or organisations of racism (certainly as a kneejerk), but it’s hard to believe this wasn’t part of some snickering conversation between a couple of employees behind the scenes. In a lot of ways, it feels like this incident encapsulates the “no one is in charge” vibe 343 gives off.
@Zochmenos Seriously, no! It’s the name of an internal toolset the company been using for over a decade plus, I doubt very much anyone even knew it was the name of an ape in the offices responsible. Maybe they should have checked, but it’s just plain stupid to accuse them of intended hatred and racism… it’s like NO ONE is allowed to make a mistake ever!
Then again, the nature of trying to make a live service game “culturally relevant” rather than a self-contained product in its own world is going to lead to problems continuously. I remember when games weren’t TV….
@S1ayeR74 Mistakes are mistakes and jokes are jokes; however, I don’t buy 343’s explanation. They didn’t choose the term because it was the name of their bug finding program, they chose it because someone associated it with the day/culture/identity/etc.
The incident itself is less concerning to me (I don’t think 343 is racist now) than the seeming lack of oversight at 343. Seems like the perfect opportunity for MS to clean this (very important) studio up.
source: Pure Xbox