In 2019, because we’ve already seen a shift away from it in a lot of movies and TV shows, it’s not the biggest deal if a major video game decides to not show any of its characters smoking. It is interesting, though, if the game is making a point of it.
The Coalition, developers of the upcoming Gears of War 5 have, via Variety, worked with Truth Initiative (an anti-smoking group) to “remove all smoking references” from the game. It’s not like the series is renowned for it in the way that, say, Red Dead or Metal Gear is, but still. The decision is going to apply not just for Gears 5, but any future games in the franchise as well.
Coalition studio boss Rod Fergusson says “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.”
Fergusson, who has been involved in the series since its inception, clarified Truth Initiative’s initial statement with some tweets:
It’s not the most obvious series for an anti-smoking group to work with, given how little we associate smoking with Gears—Barrick is probably the only character ever regularly seen with even a cigar—but as Fergusson says, personal reasons can be at play alongside simply crunching the numbers of “how many characters are smoking”.