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343 Industries "Bonobos" editing tool


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Junior Supervisor

Junior Supervisor

  • [7] FLAG OFFICER

In a PR nightmare for 343 they recently slipped up in the quality assurance of the latest update and called the Juneteenth Emblem 'Bonobo' which is related to an old tag editor from the bungie days (assuming it’s still used today) that had the name ‘Bonobo’. Just a very unfortunate circumstance to happen, but was it really on accident?

Now as a 343 shill, I have to appluad the quick turn around to update the game and finally some life from Bonnie Ross who we have not heard from in sometime now. 

 

But unlike other communities and people I think there is more interesting things around this error that isn't being discussed at all. 

 

Even if that is the name of their internal toolset there is no reason that should have auto assigned this name to that emblem. Why has that never happened to any other emblems before?

Something is backwards about using a legacy text editing/naming tool with a new game engine, but its probably more of a technical debt discussion than a few people with influence creating controversy by connecting the african identity with its native animal of the african contanent. This single notion raises questions on pride, representation in video games and real world connotations. Juneteenth itself is very straight forward, a federal holiday in the United States commemorating emancipation of enslaved African Americans. Now in my opinion, African-AMERICANS are not tied to the identities and imagery of Africa and instead of AMERICA. The impact to the community has more weight because of this in my opinion which leads to me thinking it is a real decision someone decided to name the emblem "Bonobo" and its not a automatic reference.  

This single incident has led me to follow threads of Halo fans that are joining the crowd rallying around the idea of social justice to convict 343 Industries and witch hunt the racists out of a predominantly liberal and diverse company. Microsoft, from all professionals should know too does not tolerate racism whatsoever appropriately so. 343 Industries even more, holding a zero tolerance to it, except for the small glimpses we see around the community. XLR8, being insensitive to asians and yellow fever or lustful sexist comments thrown as female-only tournaments and more that happen everyday. Everyone knows as a community we are all working on bettering it for ourselves and others, but there is some interesting "trolling" where by one social justice motivated movement people look for vindication and the downfall of the suggested developer, or developers involved.  

 

Something that no ones brought up is this sheer vindicative, witch hunting mentality that has followed. I mean some people do not even know what is going on, they just want someone beheaded for the anger they see everywhere. Its very telling in just Bonnie Ross's response tweet mentions, she is getting flack for apologizing, with many thinking its not enough. Wether it reeally isn't enough is up to fans to decide in how we as a community engage with content to come. 

As someone half-black I've experienced grades of disrespect and discrimination, living in Japan its worse and being called a monkey is definitely up there in any context. Even if the marines call Brutes monkeys in campaign, its like "damn he really said that", even if I just hear it and its not even directed to me I think its pretty up there in insults. Telling someone to kill themselves is still respecting the cognitive act that they can take actions of their own accord, where as being called monkey or bonobo bro? I audited a behaviour intelligence class in Stanford and knowing that as a species we look down and study monkies its just insulting to anyone let alone associating it with another races identity. Living abroad I've come to find many Africans like and dislike this with different opinions on the Bonobos and what it could mean from Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda down to South Africa. The easiest lesson of man to understand is to not explain something without understanding the pretext and context to it and through a video game, how many people see this, preventative measure to not begin the conversation is easier than the controversy that follows. Just because you did not know, does not excuse it from being racist unintentionally and its an educative reform that is ongoing through dialogues on all sides. 

While I expect the studios to come back from this easy it'll be interesting seeing again how platforms react and what we see come out of this. The most hurtful thing to Halo is HCS losing partnerships because brands don't want to be associated with racism and its clear Halo is played by some pretty racist people. 

This is getting kind of long, but I haven't even mention something I keep seeing around this. People are standing on the hill that video games are a form of escapism from the encapsulated worlds they live in and they do not want to even see the african-american representation, let alone LGBTQ+ allyship in a game. This is kind of crazy thing to say where in todays. world an accusation that you are racist with this argument as burden of proof is typically all you need to get cancelled and blocked. While I can agree performative activisim, tokenism adopting emblems and armor colors and virtue signaling by many more (to which is what these companies do) is bad, it also doesn't hurt anybody. Game play is not affected and if someones psyche is that inflicted by emblems they are probably racist, weak minded, not a good player and worse, never will be a leader to their friends and family. 

 

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Field Agent

Field Agent

  • [7] FLAG OFFICER

Ah was just typing something up myself. 

In my philanthropic work of our local home state of Seattle I find it absolutely intolerable that this happened. However as I understand it the 'Bonobo' tool automatically named the emblem after itself. 343 Industries is very, VERY actionable and over enforcing when it comes to discrimination and I can think of one of the funniest bans I've seen of you actually where you called Snickerdoodle, Snickerdoodle in an asian cup ramen stereotype reference and watching them kick and ban you from the Halo discord server. While that might have been isolated and other people like XLR8 are still in 343 Industries as a moderator or other. I don't think they did this on purpose. 

The apology was relatively quick, the update for the game too which I am surprised it did not take another month to release a fix and close 343 supporters defended this incident with the revelation of this Bonobo tool. 

The same apology though I do not think it is enough from Bonnie Ross. She owes us more engagement in the direction of the franchise being the founder and head of 343 Industries. She should be apologizing for being inept in addition to allowing racism, in its unperceived impact. 

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Junior Supervisor

Junior Supervisor

  • [7] FLAG OFFICER

When we talk about what Bonnie Ross should be doing enough of it can be an entirely different essay. I don't think for one moment in time I have seen true success from her leadership inside the company. Her career actually shines brighter outside of it in the many other things she does. Her whole upbringing and everything is very interesting so I have to credit her there, but I don't think its really something even she can apologize for herself. There should be some unity there with maybe everyone, or at the very least as many heads and leads of teams getting together to release an apology on the website with their names signed at the bottom. 

I'm surprised about the update too, I asked Tashi about the cadence of these updates and didn't get an answer. 

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