Gears 5 Won't Depict Tobacco Use After Non-Profit Claims It's Too Dangerous

Gears 5 will pack all the violence and blood you'd expect from an M-rated game, but one thing will be missing.

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.

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.


Josh Broadwell started gaming in the early '90s. But it wasn't until 2017 he started writing about them, after finishing two history degrees and deciding a career in academia just wasn't the best way forward. You'll usually find him playing RPGs, strategy games, or platformers, but he's up for almost anything that seems interesting.

Published Jul. 16th 2019

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