343 Industries, developer of Halo Infinite, has issued a response to a racially insensitive cosmetic named ‘Bonobo’ that somehow made its way into the game as part of Juneteenth.
‘Juneteenth’ is a holiday in the USA that is supposed to celebrate the emancipation of enslaved people, with this Halo Infinite update doing the opposite.
A customisation “Bonobo” Juneteenth nameplate was released on June 14th for Halo Infinite players. For those who don’t know, A bonobo is a breed of endangered great ape and one of the two species making up the genus ‘Pan’.
With the American holiday commemorating the liberation of Black slavery, comparing a person to an ape has a history rooted deep within racism and is certainly not appropriate for a Juneteenth commemorative digital item.
Players reported the issue via social media to 343i. To its credit, the developer fixed it quickly. It explained that the racial slur is also the name of a development tool for the inspiration for the nameplate.
John Junyszek, Halo Senior Community Manager responded to one Twitter user with the following statement:
“Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Sean. We strive to create diverse and inclusive gaming communities. 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.”
This is a true statement as can be seen below. Bonobo is the name of a string tool that 343i and other studios such as Bungie use. The nameplate was then changed to state “Freedom” and then one again to “Juneteenth”, probably to try and put out flames online.
Bonnie Ross took to her Twitter account to help ease angry fans, stating the following:
“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.
“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 apologize for making a celebrated moment a hurtful moment.”
Whilst it does look like a mistake on 343i’s part, it’s unacceptable this wasn’t picked up before launch. Here is Bonobo in action, courtesy of Mad Blitz on Twitter:
Featured Image Credit: 343 Industries