Gears 5 Won't Depict Tobacco Use After Non-Profit Claims It's Too Dangerous
Following a length showing at this year's E3, The Coalition's upcoming Gears 5 just got its first big broadcast over the weekend. Eagle-eyed viewers might have noticed one thing missing, though, and it's entirely by design: there was no tobacco usage depicted.
According to Variety, the non-profit, anti-smoking organization Truth Initiative reached out to ELeague's President, Rod Ferguson; ELeague is the organization that owns all eSports broadcasting rights for Gears 5.
Truth Initiative asked that The Coalition remove all depictions of smoking in Gears 5. The request was formed based on statistics that show viewers and players tend to be younger than the game's M-rating would suggest they might be, along with causal links that see increases in smoking tied to depictions of it in pop culture — including TV shows and video games.
Ferguson agreed to the request and provided a rather personal reason for his decision:
I’ve seen firsthand the devastating impact of smoking.
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
That firsthand experience was his father's death at age 38, when Rod Ferguson was only 4. Apparently, because of these experiences, Ferguson has tried limiting depictions of tobacco use in all Gears games.
To be fair, this isn't entirely accurate. I've been against smoking from the beginning and have worked hard to not make it a part of our franchise. Ever notice that the Dizzy concept art for Gears 2 has a cigarette but the actual character in the game doesn't? I stopped it. https://t.co/KahohpMH3A— Rod Fergusson (@GearsViking) July 12, 2019
Of course, there's no way to verify these remarks one way or the other.
The move does open up another topic of discussion, though. Truth Initiative claims there are definite links between images showing certain actions and people's behavior, though that contradicts claims stating depictions of violence — and Gears 5 comes with an M rating for gore and violence — have no impact on others.
While it would seem there's some casual picking and choosing when it comes to causality here, that's another topic for another time.