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  • Seppy Yoon

AI Art for Games - The Ethical Use of AI Art

MidJourney Version 4: crayon drawing of a delorean, crayon drawing by a child

“Silence, Earthling! My name is Darth Vader. I am an Extraterrestrial from the planet Vulcan!”

- Marty McFly, Back to the Future

Mash ups are ridiculous. Mash ups are fun! The beauty of AI is that nothing is too whimsical or strange for it to bring together. Just like children’s drawings, there are no preconceptions constraining the AI’s outcome. But just like children, it is our responsibility to teach them right from wrong.

As a board game publisher, my job is to bring people together with fun. These connections are what makes board gaming vital & what makes participating in the industry so rewarding. I see AI generated images as a game or tool, but it's important to understand who’s being impacted by a technology before you use it. We want to bring everyone to the table and usually listening is a good way to start including everyone in the fun.

“Whoa. This is heavy.”

- Marty McFly

Here are some of the issues that resonated with me most as someone who enjoys AI art:

  • The sites that use AI engines to make illustrated portraits are probably selling your personal data for profit.

  • The AI engines themselves don’t credit their sources in a way that’s fair to the original artist they are getting their “inspiration" or "style” from, and they are doing so without permission.

  • Users have another excuse not to pay poor & marginalized people for their work.

My job as a true believer in the healing power of fun is to suggest ways you can continue to enjoy the evolution of this technology.

MidJourney Version 4: george and marty mcfly putting their minds to it, DVD screen capture

“If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.”

- Marty McFly

My first suggestion is to embrace the fact that everything comes from someplace else. If you like what the AI did, take a minute for discovery. Go see if you can find the original inspiration. Go on a deep dive of ArtStation, Behance, or DeviantArt and find some new creators. This is the best kind of falling down an internet rabbit hole. If the AI can help you discover a new artist, that's incredible. That is both good for you, the artist, and taps the potential of our machine friends to do good.

My second suggestion is go pay an artist. You’d be shocked at how inexpensive and life enhancing your patronage to an artist can be. Buy a print on Etsy, support a creator on Patreon, or commission a portrait from an artist on ko-fi. Hopefully, in the future, we will have more and more approachable ways for folks to discover & help artists, but these are an easy way to start supporting the creators who may be inadvertently feeding the machines.

“Oh. One other thing. If you guys ever have kids, and one of them, when he's eight years old, accidentally sets fire to the living room rug... go easy on him.”

- Marty McFly

My final suggestion is to be excellent to each other. I remember when folks were upset about digital cameras destroying the lives of photographers. Technology requires change. The people who are working on our future machine overlords & the artists who provide the AI’s source material are all humans trying to make the world a little more beautiful. No one wants their work stolen or misused and we’re all trying to improve. What is important is we focus on the things that bring us together in fun.


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