The Coalition’s Rod Fergusson explains why Gears is smoke-free

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"Our characters are cool because they're willing to have lung cancer in 20 years?"

The Coalition’s Rod Fergusson sat down to discuss the studio’s decision to partner with the Truth Initiative, effectively making all future Gears games — including the upcoming Gears 5fully smoke-free.

“I think there’s a lot of confusion around that and I’ve been blamed for all of that,” Fergusson told Stevivor.

“I don’t think you have to be a silent monk to say I don’t believe in smoking,” Fergusson continued. “I think you can have different opinions on different things and because smoking directly affected me personally, I just felt like I had an obligation not to glamorise its role in society. I took the stance 15 years ago; the fact that now a partner comes along that says they want to help you support that, and that becomes an outrage thing? I don’t understand.”

Fergusson refers to fans who say that the franchise has been damaged by the removal of smoking within it… even though there haven’t been any references to smoking that have actually made it in-game in quite some time.

“If you look at the concept art for [Gears of War 2 supporting character] Dizzy [Wallin], he has a cigarette in his mouth but in the game he never did because between concept and implementation I had it removed,” Fergusson continued. “So when the Truth thing came out, which I believe in, it was a easy partnership. But everyone took it as, ‘he’s ripped [smoking] out’ and ‘why has he removed smoking?’ It was a weird kind of rage for no reason kind of thing.

“I think its okay to be against things without having to be against everything; I’ve seen the impact of smoking on my life and on my friends lives and I don’t like the way that people glamorise it as a thing to be a shorthand for cool — if you’ve only got 30 seconds in a movie to make a character cool you see them smoking and sitting on the hood of a car. I just feel like in some cases that’s a shorthand that we don’t need to use — our characters are cool because they’re willing to have lung cancer in 20 years?”

Gears 5 heads to Windows PC and Xbox One as part of the Xbox Game Pass subscription program on 6 September. If you’re not a subscriber, you’ll need to wait to 10 September.