The addition in question is a colour palette for the in-game emblem designed to celebrate the American holiday of Juneteenth, which was seemingly named ‘Bonobo’, which is also the name of a species of ape.
This discovery and the subsequent discussion of it have prompted a rapid response from 343 Industries, with the studio also issuing an update which renames the palette.
Controversy Erupts Over Halo Infinite Emblem
Taking to Twitter, esports personality Jake Lucky highlighted the naming of the palette, which had already become a topic of conversation on Reddit, saying: “Halo added a nameplate for Juneteenth, a holiday which celebrates the freedom of those who were enslaved, and they decided to name it Bonobo, after an ape…”.
This name was identified as being problematic due to the historical trend of racist misrepresentations comparing Black people to apes, which the Halo emblem's name evoked in the minds of many players on social media.
The issue was quickly recognised by 343 Industries, with a rapid fix being deployed in an attempt to resolve things by changing the colour palette’s name to ‘Freedom’ instead.
The studio also issued a number of statements concerning the incident to social media, with Senior Community Manager John Junyszek saying in response to a tweet by YouTuber Sean W pointing out the name change: “While the original name refers to an internal toolset, it was not intended to be applied to this content and we recognize the harm it may have caused.”
Head of 343 Industries Bonnie Ross also tweeted about the incident, stating: “We were made aware of a palette option for our Juneteenth emblem that contained a term that was offensive and hurtful. The team immediately addressed this issue via an update.”
She also added: “We are a studio and franchise that is committed to inclusivity where everyone is welcome and supported to be their true self. On behalf of 343, I apologise for making a celebrated moment a hurtful moment.”
Many users in the thread on the subreddit r/halo dedicated to the incident seemed both bemused with the speed at which the update renaming the palette was deployed and in disbelief that such a thing could have been allowed to happen in the first place.
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