Depictions of smoking are found in some of the most popular video games. From Red Dead Redemption 2 to BioShock, gaming is no stranger to the tobacco industry. Even the Gears of War franchise has seen its fair share of smokers. But this time around, Gears 5 smoking depictions have been removed.
As reported by Variety, all references to smoking have been taken out of Gears 5 thanks to a partnership between anti-smoking organization Truth Initiative, Turner’s esports division ELeague, and Gears 5 developer and publisher The Coalition and Microsoft respectively. Since ELeague has the rights to broadcast the upcoming shooter, Truth Initiative approached Turner to make the change. Turner then collaborated with The Coalition and Microsoft to make Gears 5 smoke-free.
Seth Ladetsky, senior vice president of Turner Sports Sales and head of Turner Sports Digital and ELeague sales strategy and revenue, said that removing imagery pertaining to smoking in Gears 5 has taken months. “This took a lot of time and a lot of good thinking,” added Ladetsky about the decision. “It’s the right image for ELeague — and the game itself — to project.”
So, what do the developers of Gears 5, The Coalition, think about this decision? Studio head Rod Fergusson gave his two cents and is all-in on removing tobacco use from the game.
“I’ve seen first hand the devastating impact of smoking,” said Fergusson. “It’s always been important for me to not use smoking as a narrative device, which is why we made the conscious choice to avoid highlighting or glorifying smoking in Gears 5 and throughout the Gears of War Universe moving forward.”
Gears 5 is still rated “M” despite nixing “tobacco use” from its rating list. Cutting people in half with a chainsaw gun and blowing up people’s faces isn’t exactly kid-friendly. But you won’t see any glorified shots of people smoking while taking out the Locust threat. You can expect this smoke-free game to launch on September 10 for Xbox One and PC.