Players in “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” and “Call of Duty: Warzone” may now find themselves limited in which hand signals they can give other players while in the field, according to PC Gamer.
Infinity Ward, Call of Duty’s developer, has reportedly removed the “OK” hand gesture from the game over concerns that the signal is a “racist hand sign.”
“Gestures in Call of Duty are exactly what they sound like: They enable players to make gestures with their off-hand toward other players—make a fist, give them a thumbs-up, throw the horns, or whatever,” PC Gamer explains. “They’re the sort of thing you see in action movies, where special forces dudes communicate complex strategies and orders to one another with nothing more than hand-waves and finger-pointing, although in videogames they tend to be used more for taunts and silent smack-talk.”
The game limits which signals players can make, however, and the “OK” gesture — a hand signal that involves the thumb and forefinger touching in an “o” with the other fingers extended — which was added earlier this year is now banned, along with the “middle finger.”
“While the developer and Activision have yet to comment on the gesture’s removal in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Warzone, it has been removed from the games. The patch notes don’t reflect the removal,” VG247 adds.
Infinity Ward, like other corporations, recently issued a message of support for the Black Lives Matter movement and pledged, in a tweet, to crack down on player racism in the Call of Duty game franchise. That pledge includes adding racism monitoring and reporting systems and adding filters and “greater restrictions” on gameplay.
— Infinity Ward (@InfinityWard) June 3, 2020
“Call of Duty and Infinity Ward stand for equality and inclusion. We stand against the racism and injustice our Black community endures. Until change happens and Black Lives Matter, we will never truly be the community we strive to be,” Infinity Ward said in a separate statement.
The OK gesture is, of course, often debated on social media. The Anti-Defamation League, which chronicles incidents of white supremacy, claims the signal can be “a sincere expression of white supremacy,” but typically has to be evaluated in context, given its long history as a signal meaning, simply, “okay,” and its use as a “trolling gesture,” per their website.
Some far-right figures have used the gesture in photos and on social media as a way of trolling social justice warriors on the lookout for signs of conspiracy, and 4chan, where the gag originated, called the “white supremacy” angle a “hoax” back in 2017 when the first trolling incidents began appearing across the web.
“The overwhelming usage of the ‘OK’ hand gesture today is still its traditional purpose as a gesture signifying assent or approval,” ADL says. “As a result, someone who uses the symbol cannot be assumed to be using the symbol in either a trolling or, especially, white supremacist context unless other contextual evidence exists to support the contention.”
Within the game, Eurogamer says, the gesture is used to indicate a “trick shot” in multi-player mode.
“The OK gesture, which was added to the game earlier in 2020, was used by some as a trickshot of sorts – the player character doing the OK sign with their left hand while firing their gun with their right,” the outlet notes. “Call of Duty social media and subreddits would often carry clips of players doing the OK sign as they ended a multiplayer match or a game of Warzone with the final kill.”
Infinity Zone is not alone in policing the “OK” gesture in games. Blizzard, which develops the World of Warcraft and Overwatch series, also polices hand gestures, per Eurogamer.