In Gears 5, the only form of smoking will comes from the barrels of guns, as cigars and cigarettes will be removed from the latest entry in the Gears of War series.
The Coalition made the decision after Truth Initiative, a non-profit, anti-smoking organization, approached Turner, whose ELeague esports division holds broadcast rights to Gears 5, according to Variety. Turner worked with The Coalition to strip all references to smoking in the game.
Previous Gears of War games contained scenes where characters were smoking cigars or cigarettes. There will be no such scenes in Gears 5, a move that reportedly took months to accomplish.
“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,” said The Coalition studio head Rod Fergusson in a statement.
Variety raises the apparent double standard of removing references to smoking in a game that arguably glorifies violence with destructive weapons blood, and gore. At the same time, though, the report acknowledges studies showing a lack of correlation between playing violent video games and real-world crime.
Meanwhile, Seth Ladetsky, senior VP of Turner Sports Sales and head of Turner Sports Digital and ELeague sales strategy and revenue, said that removing smoking in Gears 5 does not change the nature of the game. The executive also brought up research showing that there is a correlation between exposure to smoking references in entertainment and smoking adoption among younger people.
Truth Initiative President and CEO Robin Koval praised the move of The Coalition to remove all references of smoking in Gears 5. “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,” Koval said in a statement.
Gears 5, which will be released on September 10 for the Xbox One and Windows 10 PC, will soon start its Versus Multiplayer Technical Test. Gamers who are interested in joining the multiplayer test will need to have purchased the title, either as a physical or digital pre-order, or as part of the Xbox Game Pass membership.
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