Multiple "AI Art" Updates and Controversies in Tabletop Gaming

Three news stories this week came out about algorithmic generation aka "AI Art" in the tabletop gaming industry.

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BackerKit announced that effective October 4, no project will be allowed with any writing or art assets that were entirely created by algorithmic generation aka “AI”. From the blog post:

At BackerKit, our team is passionate about people’s passions. For ten years, we’ve supported creators in their journey to launch projects and build thriving creative practices and businesses. We’ve developed deep relationships and respect for the people who breathe life into crowdfunding projects, and we are committed to defending their well-being on our platform.

That’s why we are announcing a new policy that aims to address growing concerns regarding ownership of content, ethical sourcing of data, and compensation for the process of creating content. […]

As part of this consideration, BackerKit has committed to a policy that restricts the use of AI-generated content in projects on our crowdfunding platform.

This policy goes into effect on October 4, 2023.

[…] This policy emphasizes that projects on BackerKit cannot include content solely generated by AI tools. All content and assets must first be created by humans.

This doesn’t impact content refined with AI-assisted tools like “generative content fill” or “object replacement” (image editing software functions that help blend or replace selected portions of an image), other standard image adjustment tools (saturation, color, resolution,) or AI language tools that refine human-created text with modifications to spelling, grammar, and syntax.

Software assisted by AI, such as transcribers or video tracking technology are permitted under these guidelines. However, software with the purpose to generate content using AI would not be permitted.

The post includes image examples of what content is and is not allowed. Additionally, BackerKit will add an option to the back end for creators that will allow them to “exclude all content uploaded by our creators for their projects from AI training”. This is opt-out, meaning that by default this ban is in place and creators who want their work used for training generative algorithms must go in and specifically allow it.

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This move comes alongside a pair of recent controversies in tabletop gaming. Last month, Wizards of the Coast came under fire as it was revealed a freelance artist used algorithmic generation for artwork included in Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants. Wizards of the Coast quickly updated their stance on algorithmic generation with a statement that the artwork would be removed from the D&D Beyond digital copies of the book and will place new language in contracts banning the use of algorithmic generation.

This week, Gizmodo reporter Linda Codega reported that the artwork in the D&D Beyond version of Bigby Presents has now been replaced with new art. No announcement was made about the new artwork, and Gizmodo’s attempts to contact Wizards of the Coast for a statement directed them to the statement made in August. The artist who used algorithmic generation, Ilya Shkipin, has been removed from the art credits from the book, and the artwork has replaced by works by Claudio Prozas, Quintin Gleim, Linda Lithen, Daneen Wilkerson, Daarken, and Suzanne Helmigh.

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Meanwhile, the largest tabletop gaming convention in Europe, Essen Spiel, recently ran into the same controversy as promotional material for the convention used algorithmically generated artwork including the convention’s official app, promotional posters, and tickets for the event.

Marz Verlag, the parent company for the convention, responded to a request for comment from Dicebreaker:

"We are aware of this topic and will evaluate it in detail after the show. Right now please understand that we cannot answer your questions at this moment, as we have a lot to do to get the show started today," said a representative for Merz Verlag.

"Regarding the questions about Meeps and timing, I can tell you quickly that the marketing campaign [containing AI artwork] has been created way before we had the idea to create a mascot. The idea of Meeps had nothing to do with the marketing campaign and vice versa."

Meeps, a board game-playing kitten and totally innocent of the controversy (because who could blame a cute kitty), is the new mascot for the convention announced this past July voted on by fans and was designed by illustrator Michael Menzel.
 

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Darryl Mott

Darryl Mott

In any case, as an artist, I have little doubt that this technology will end illustration as viable line of work. And it won't end there, AI will replace most human jobs sooner or later. Only jobs in which human interaction is seen as significant value or those tedious manual jobs that are too expensive to robotise are safe. Our society is built on most people working to earn income, and I don't believe that can work in the AI dominated future.
 
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No human artist worth paying for the works of hasn't had the same level of input in seeing others works on TV, in movies, in books, and in life.

Every bit of art I do (not bloody much) is influenced by the works of my grandfarther (skilled, but largely unknown), of Bob Ross, and of the dozens of history texts I've studied from, the hundreds of RPGs I've read...

At some point plagiarism ceases to be a valid claim and research becomes a valid claim.

At present, many are arguing that for AI it should be X, and for people Y; I find that not only unconvincing, but ethically more bankrupt than just arguing for a common standard.

I know guys who can draw in the same style as Kevin Siembieda; hell, many of his artists he hires do styles very close to his own. Palladium has a very narrow window of art style... Are the artists he hires plagiarists? NO! He pays them for that consistency.

FASA, now.. 80's FASA was rife with rotoscoped portraits in the STRPG and Battletech lines... Some of later notable actors... one's a rotoscope of Michael Duncan Clark's head shot from a magazine... Were they plagiarists?

No, they met the "15%" requirement of the era.

Very few artists lack a wide exposure to art. They just can't recall all of what has set their network up.

This line of reasoning, again it must be said is a complete red herring intended to obfuscate the actual issue, is born in a deep unappreciation of what it is to be an artist and what it means to create art.

You may think otherwise, but you are wrong.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
This line of reasoning, again it must be said is a complete red herring intended to obfuscate the actual issue, is born in a deep unappreciation of what it is to be an artist and what it means to create art.

You may think otherwise, but you are wrong.
At the risk of being wrong, what do you think about the separation of economic concerns from creative concerns? Obviously it's naive today to suppose artists don't need to fight to protect their livelihoods, but were the economic fruits of AI to be shared equally in future (unlikely, but possible), what would be the residual creative concerns?
 

At the risk of being wrong, what do you think about the separation of economic concerns from creative concerns? Obviously it's naive today to suppose artists don't need to fight to protect their livelihoods, but were the economic fruits of AI to be shared equally in future (unlikely, but possible), what would be the residual creative concerns?

When the fad dies (arguably already has) they just fade into the background as the glorified stock image generators they are. Likewise with other types of AI.

The hollow validation one gets trying to pass off AI generated works as actual art doesn't last forever, and if theres no money to be had in it then theres not going to be much longevity in people doing it anyway.
 

Blue Orange

Gone to Texas
At the risk of being wrong, what do you think about the separation of economic concerns from creative concerns? Obviously it's naive today to suppose artists don't need to fight to protect their livelihoods, but were the economic fruits of AI to be shared equally in future (unlikely, but possible), what would be the residual creative concerns?
I'm actually with Crimson Longinus. It's always been hard to make a living as an artist (in Raphael's time you had to keep cardinals or nobles happy), and this is just going to exacerbate an already-existing situation. I'd think we might need some sort of universal basic income sooner or later, though that's going to be a long and difficult struggle.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
I'm actually with Crimson Longinus. It's always been hard to make a living as an artist (in Raphael's time you had to keep cardinals or nobles happy), and this is just going to exacerbate an already-existing situation. I'd think we might need some sort of universal basic income sooner or later, though that's going to be a long and difficult struggle.
Were I not bound to employing my creative faculties to earn my subsistence, I would develop and pursue them anyway for personal satisfaction and sharing with others. I'd still feel driven to create, just relieved of the need to do so to make a living. I sometimes feel like commercialisation corrupts imagination.
 

Were I not bound to employing my creative faculties to earn my subsistence, I would develop and pursue them anyway for personal satisfaction and sharing with others. I'd still feel driven to create, just relieved of the need to do so to make a living. I sometimes feel like commercialisation corrupts imagination.
I am not super hopeful that a post scarcity society where people don't need to work for sustenance and can pursue redundant art skills at their leisure is where we are heading...
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
"Self Inflicted" doesnt quite have the ring to it I would like. I doubt most of us get to set the timelines. ;)

I mean it is self inflicted by the company, broadly. The software industry knows full well how to avoid crunches in day-to-day business.
 


dragoner

KosmicRPG.com
I am not super hopeful that a post scarcity society where people don't need to work for sustenance and can pursue redundant art skills at their leisure is where we are heading...
This is something I ponder in my sfrpg setting. Though post scarcity is term begging a definition and I define it as being post artificial scarcity like today with oil and OPEC. I think in general the nature of work, and esp labor is changing. Whether or not people want to live in an oligarchy ruled by "geniuses" like Musk is another thing.
 

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