February is marked in the United States as Black History Month, with many tech and other corporate giants deciding to participate in their own way.
The month-long series of events is meant to celebrate achievements of African-Americans, and the likes of Google, Twitter, but also traditional behemoths like Coca Cola and UPS have all come up with ways to get involved.
Microsoft couldn’t be seen lagging far behind, and this giant chose to make its contribution via game developer 343 Industries and publisher Xbox Game Studio – the Microsoft-owned makers of Halo.
Specifically, 343 Industries announced that its Halo: The Master Chief Collection on Steam will host several events during the month, offering users a chance to earn new nameplates – customizable and coveted small icons displayed in Halo multiplayer lobbies next to a player’s “gamertag.”
According to the developer, these nameplates will be themed to display the colors of the Pan African flag, and inspired by African art.
But over on Steam, not everyone was happy and/or impressed with this decision.
Some users thought the developer, seeing how its primary purpose is to develop and sell games, should have improving the game as its first priority.
Others viewed the move as political and therefore inappropriate, referring to 343 Industries’ decision as “woke,” pushing an agenda, specifically a SWJ one – while some said they were opposed to celebrating Black History Month in the first place, understanding it as divisive rather than uniting, and also, racist in its own right.
And although these posts were clearly critical of the move, none seemed to have contained abusive or offensive language: yet a host of commenters got banned.
In any case, celebrating achievements of a disenfranchised and discriminated population and promoting values of freedom and inclusion by turning to censorship and banning seems like an odd choice, to say the least.