Summer’s here and school is out, giving young people everywhere newfound freedom for their favorite pastimes. At the top of the list for many youth? Video games.
What these young people see when playing their favorite video games might surprise you: characters smoking tobacco.
Enter Overwatch, a multi-player game from Blizzard Entertainment that is being called “one of the hottest video game releases of the summer” and in less than a month hit 10 million players. While the game is being lauded in reviews for its refreshing approach and a diverse cast of heroes, tobacco use is front and center in the form of a lit cigar in the mouth of one of those heroes: bounty hunter and outlaw Jesse McCree. With a rating that says play is suitable for teenagers, the game’s tobacco-use imagery sends an influential and potentially harmful message to the young people who play the game.