As it turns out, Bungie discovered the “kek” resemblance during development.
After discovering that a piece of armor in Destiny 2 featured a pattern strongly resembling a symbol of white supremacy, Bungie made plans to remove the armor from the game. But just how exactly did such abhorrent symbology make its way into the biggest blockbuster game of the year to date?
Bungie Community Manager David “DeeJ” Dague explained in a post that the armor was designed in June 2015. Dague explained that designers are often inspired by existing imagery but that the sources of inspiration were not the “Kekistan” flag, which has been co-opted by the alt-right as a symbol of white supremacy.
“In this case, some of the reference imagery featured the simple mirrored chevron shapes found in the finished piece,” wrote Dague of the armor’s origins. “Some graphic design that belongs to sports teams provided some inspiration as well, along with some primitive shapes and chevrons that were used to permeate our Guardian class iconography.”
But that doesn’t mean nobody at Bungie noticed the symbology resembled that of Kekistan. A team of responsible for “reviewing content for cultural, geographical, and other sensitive issues” caught it during development. The team, however, flagged the piece because it resembled Kekistan’s original purpose, as a silly internet meme representing shitposters, but not those of the white supremacist variety.
“The more contemporary, vile derivation that has been repurposed by hate groups was not surfaced through this process,” continued Dague, “and therefore, the armor was approved for ship.”
To that end, Know Your Meme explains that “kek” began gaining steam in 2004 as a substitute for “LOL,” tracing its origins to a Korean onomatopoeia. Kek even turned up in World of Warcraft and Starcraft long before spreading and eventually being repurposed as a symbol of white supremacy. If this sounds a lot like Pepe the Frog’s story, that’s because the two are tied together.
Dague insisted that Bungie did not purposely include symbology closely resembling that of Kekistan in Destiny 2. He stated that “there was no degree of malicious intent,” from anyone at Bungie, but the developer realized the similarity was too much and so took action to remove the potentially offensive armor.