Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Call of Duty: Warzone both received the “OK” hand gesture in an update earlier this year. Given the gesture’s association with a white supremacy hand signal, Activision and Infinity Ward have opted to remove it from the games entirely.
According to a Eurogamer report on the “OK” gesture’s quiet removal, it’s been absent from both Call of Duty titles since an update on June 30th. As of writing, neither Activision nor Infinity Ward have directly addressed the hand signal’s absence.
Historically, this particular hand gesture can be traced back to 17th Century Britain. Then, it represented little more than a silent way of conveying understanding. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) notes that by the 18th Century, the signal adopted the even simpler meaning of the word “okay.” Other cultures around the globe make use of it in a variety of contexts, as well.
This well-known signal took on a much more sinister meaning a few years ago due to the machinations of 4chan trolls. In 2017, a hoax on the notorious internet forum claimed the “OK” hand gesture doubled as a white power symbol, evidenced by the “WP”-like configuration of the fingers and wrist. The hope was that mainstream media would pick up on the hoax, eventually leading to a public outcry. It worked, especially once right-leaning individuals adopted the tactic of sharing images of themselves posing with the symbol in use.
By and large, the “OK” gesture is predominantly used to signal its classic “okay” meaning. Still, it’s better to be safe than sorry with regards to Activision’s and Infinity Ward’s decision. The sign has since been replaced with the “Crush” gesture, according to Eurogamer as seen in the screenshot below.
Infinity Ward and Activision have been working on making multiple changes and updates similar to this one since early June, when the police murder of George Floyd sparked civil unrest around the world regarding police brutality against Black people. Certain insensitive sprays have been removed from the game (such as one that portrayed a racist caricature of a police lineup against a wall). The developer has also demonstrated open support for the Black Lives Matter movement and a commitment to do better in moderating racist names and behaviors online.