Gears 5, a game rated M, will not present any representation of smoking after the awareness efforts of an anti-smoking organization in ELeague, which holds the broadcast rights of the game's esports competitions.
Variety first reported the change Friday, although it's not clear if Gears 5 The characters were shown to smoke before Truth Initiative contacted Turner, the owner of ELeague. Rod Fergusson, the director of Gears 5 studio The Coalition, tweeted Friday night, after the first appearance of the story, about the fact that he was opposed to smoking for a long time, his father, a smoker, died at age 38 when Fergusson was 4 years old. Concept art for 2008 Gears of War 2 Fergusson may have shown a character smoking, but "I stopped him," Fergusson said.
To be fair, it's not quite right. I have been against smoking since the beginning and have worked hard not to make it part of our franchise. Have you ever noticed that Dizzy's artistic concept for Gears 2 had a cigarette, but not the character of the game? I stopped it https://t.co/KahohpMH3A
– Rod Fergusson (@GearsViking) July 12, 2019
My father smoked. He died of a heart attack at 38 years old. I was 4 years old.
– Rod Fergusson (@GearsViking) July 13, 2019
Gears 5 is currently at the heart of the summer series on invitation of ELeague Gears, broadcast on Twitch. The tournament is sponsored by Truth Initiative. This is the first time fans can see Gears 5, scheduled September 10 for Windows PC and Xbox One. Gears 5 will begin a technical test on Friday, July 19th and will run for this weekend and the next (July 26th to 29th).
For Variety, a leader of Turner defended the goal of eliminating tobacco from a game that will always involve a lot of bloodshed and violence. "When you delete these images, it has an impact," said Variety Seth Ladetsky, head of Turner Sports Digital. Ladetsky said research has shown a correlation between youth smoking rates and its portrayal in popular culture that they consume. Recently, the Truth Initiative has focused on video games to burn tobacco, given the youthfulness of its demographics, regardless of the rating assigned to a game.
Seven ESRB-rated Gears of War titles date back to the beginning of the series in 2006. All are M-rated, none have content descriptors for tobacco or any other substance (alcohol or drugs).