Gears Of War 5 is in Quite the Interesting Situation
The Coalition announced that Gears 5 would not include smoking of any kind. The developers behind the popular Microsoft exclusive have partnered up with Truth Initiative, which are an anti-smoking organization, to ensure no game coming forward from the studio features smoking of any kind.
Studio head of The Coalition, Rod Fergusson, was very open about how the effects of smoking affect his life, losing his dad at four when he was only 38, and plans on keeping his games from depicting smoking as long as he is with the company. Fans have been ensured that this wasn’t censorship of any kind because the game never included it to begin with.
Yet with Gears 5 about to launch in September, I can’t help but feel there are more pressing matters that should be addressed with the game.
Gears Of War has always had a dedicated multiplayer community, but the series is known for its single-player story and the fact you can play it with friends. However, with Gears 5 we have yet to see much of anything about the single-player campaign and have heard very little about it. Gears 5 had an intriguing campaign trailer at E3 2018 which showed a massive change in direction for the series, a new lead character introduced in Gears Of War 4, and an indication that exploration and melee combat will be featured more.
Since its reveal, however, the studio has gone quiet about the campaign but has, each chance it’s gotten, shown off the various multiplayer offerings the game will have. Many feel, myself included, that they should discuss the campaign instead of this anti smoking stance that had seemingly come out of nowhere. It’s a great cause and I commend them for it, but with the game being so close to releasing, they should be mentioning campaign length, showing off a never-before-seen mechanic, and/or revealing a new area in the campaign.
Out of all the games out there, Gears Of War doesn’t come to mind when discussing smoking. What does come to mind are giant automatic weapons with chainsaws attached.
I cannot lie, when I first heard about this stance and them promoting it, I could not for the life of me remember when or if a character ever smoked in the series. That sort of takes away from this announcement, it kind of lessens its potential Impact. Had it been the next Metal Gear Solid game, where smoking is heavily present and even used as a gameplay mechanic in prior entries, the announcement of no smoking would have had a lot more weight about it.
Not that it’s a bad thing, it just comes across as taking credit for something of little importance in the grand scheme of things for the Gears series. Especially when an M-rated game has a lot more in it that probably should be addressed. Truth be told, it doesn’t really matter. If they would have never mentioned this, no one would have noticed.
Personally, I like that The Coalition is taking a stance in raising awareness about one of the most deadly products out there.
More developers could raise awareness about other things they feel passionate against, but then, maybe, they shouldn’t be making an M-rated game. This sort of announcement could have been made after the game was released. It could have been revealed after the game’s modes were fully unveiled to gamers who are worried about other aspects of Gears 5.
The games that do have smoking, I’ve never interpreted it as glorifying. I’ve never smoked in my life and some of my favorite games include it. When I played Metal Gear Solid V and used the cigar to pass the time, I never felt any desire to run out to smoke.
The same with drinking. I’ve never drank but the characters do in Red Dead Redemption 2; this didn’t cause me a sudden desire to drink. I’ve yet to meet anyone who has been influenced by any medium to begin smoking and drinking, if they played it at the appropriate age. With that being said, if you’re influenced by these games then you probably shouldn’t be playing them.
I’m curious on what everyone else thinks about this decision by The Coalition. I honestly don’t care and am not affected by it either way. I have no problems with a developer being against something and taking a stance, I just wish they discussed it after all of their fans were satisfied with the information surrounding their game. It’s a little odd that an M-rated game would take a stance against something that has never been in the series, as far as I can tell, but the decision around it seems genuine. Game developers have the opportunities in their work to make a genuine difference in the world, they just need to be careful on how they approach it.