Gaming Versus AI Assets: D&D and Steam Ban AI Art

The rise of AI image and asset generation has been swift. So swift, in fact, that it has caused a number of knock-on effects. Many games and gaming organizations have had to make knee-jerk decisions with AI-generated art, models, and even full games. But why is there a war waged on AI assets?

AI has become a staple of the digitally-minded in the past 18 months, replacing Google for many queries, but also its value to creators is bordering the infinite already. Although it’s safe to say we’re in the foetal stages of AI, software such as Midjourney has given everyone the power to create incredible artwork and photo-realistic imagery.

D&D Bans AI Art

Stunning artwork of a paladin battling through the Temple of Elemental Evil in Dungeons & Dragons. Except I created it in Midjourney in 30 seconds.

In fact, it has become a problem for Wizards of the Coast (and their new owners, Hasbro). Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) is the founding father of roleplaying games to many, and a significant part of the cult classic is its artwork which is often commissioned. A recent design caught the attention of the D&D community for all the wrong reasons.

The upcoming D&D book, Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants is set to release on 15th August for $59.95, but hit a small bump when the community suspected that AI had been used for some of the artwork. Talented artist, Ilya Shkipin, admitted using AI, but only to enhance the images.

The discomfort in the community has led to D&D revising its policy with commissioned artists to include a clause banning AI. Fortunately — and this really is a please, level-headed decision — Shkipin will simply no longer use AI in his work for D&D; there was no ending of relationships or demonizing.

Steam Bans AI Assets

Now, I have been critical of Steam in the past with their early ban of blockchain and the betrayal of innovative indie developers. So, you might expect me to double down on that stance with the ban of AI art assets, but I won’t be doing that. Steam has plainly stated that it is having to reject many games that are using AI assets, but the reasons are wholly fair:

We know it is a constantly evolving tech, and our goal is not to discourage the use of it on Steam; instead, we’re working through how to integrate it into our already-existing review policies. Stated plainly, our review process is a reflection of current copyright law and policies, not an added layer of our opinion. As these laws and policies evolve over time, so will our process.

Valve on AI assets

The issue of copyright is at the forefront of AI, particularly with the likes of Midjourney. It is still unclear if somebody can copyright what they create in Midjourney, as well as perhaps copyright infringements of work that are plainly using an artist’s style and portfolio to create something “new”.

So, for the time being, many gaming organizations of all colors and creeds are having to be vigilant with AI to ensure the avoidance of lawsuits that are inevitably sliding down the pipeline.

Robert Baggs
Robert Baggs
Full-time professional crypto writer and Editor of Token Gamer. Co-host of the Mint One Podcast. Obsessed with MMOs. London based. Primary holdings: WAXP, ENJ, & BTC. Secondary holdings: ETH, GALA, & MATIC

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