Gears 5 developer The Coalition has teamed up with anti-smoking campaign group Truth Initiative in an attempt “to avoid glorifying smoking” by banning depictions of smoking in its upcoming sequel. The Coalition boss Rod Fergusson revealed the studio had made a “conscious choice” not to use smoking “as a narrative device” after the broadcaster behind last weekend’s Gears 5 and ELeague competition was approached by Truth Initiative.
Senior VP at broadcaster Turner, Seth Ladetsky, said the decision had taken “a lot of time and a lot of good thinking”, but insisted it was “the right image for ELeague – and the game itself – to project”. While it may be a mature-rated game, Ladetsky said there is purportedly a link between smoking habits and exposure to smoking depicted in media. He also added that removing tobacco from Gears 5 “doesn’t change the nature of the game itself”.
“We commend [The Coalition] for taking smoking out of Gears 5 and ELeague for featuring this tobacco-free game during this weekend’s competition,” said Truth Initiative’s CEO and president, Robin Koval (thanks, Variety). “We are hopeful that this decision will encourage other game developers and streaming tournaments to follow this lead and level up the gaming experience by going tobacco-free.”
“I’ve seen firsthand the devastating impact of smoking,” The Coalition boss Rod Fergusson said. “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.”
“I’ve always been anti-smoking and have pushed back on having it in Gears since day 1,” Fergusson clarified later via Twitter, pointing out that there was no smoking portrayed in Gears 4, either. “There was no smoking to remove from Gears 4 or 5 because there never was any smoking to begin with. And as long as I’m in control, there never will be.”