The upcoming Gears 5 releases on September 20, but before it’s slated release the developers of Gears 5, The Coalition, are stomping out all depictions of smoking from the mature title.
The anti-smoking push from the Gears 5 developers comes after the government sponsored Truth Initiative anti-smoking organization approached Turner, who runs the ELeague e-sports division with broadcast rights to Gears 5, and asked them about making the change to Gears 5. Turner then got together with The Coalition and both parties agreed to remove any and all smoking form the game.
While it goes without questioning that the damage that comes from smoking isn’t something to be ignored, the decision to remove it from a game that features blood, gore, guns, and chainsawing bodies is a questionable one.
The argument that seeing smoking depicted in entertainment causes viewers/players to also smoke can be compared to the very same argument that many use to condemn violent video games.
While it is true that the Gears of War series is heavily marketed towards and very popular with the teen market, it still reads M for Mature on the front cover of the box at the end of the day.
The Variety noted the same argument, but Senior VP of Turner Sports Sales says that research shows that those exposed to smoking depictions are more likely to take up smoking.
“Is there a double standard in keeping the violence while the parties involved congratulate themselves for their anti-smoking stance? For one thing, as the video-game industry has repeatedly noted, there’s no evidence of a causal link between violent crime and gaming. Ladetsky said the elimination of smoking doesn’t change the nature of the game itself, and he cited research that shows a correlation between higher exposure to tobacco depictions in entertainment and a higher incidence of smoking adoption among younger people. ‘As you remove these images, it does have an impact,’ he said.”–Variety
While Gears 5’s removal of smoking is nothing to be outraged about, it certainly raises more questions about what video game ratings even mean in today’s market. With more and more games removing mature features from mature games, its hard not to wonder if the game rating system really means anything anymore.