‘Magic: The Gathering’ Caught Using AI Art After Banning Non-Human-Created Works
By Mikelle Leow, 09 Jan 2024
Photo 89962681 © Petrajz | Dreamstime.com
Wizards of the Coast (WotC), the company behind the popular card game Magic: The Gathering (MtG), recently found itself in a bit of a bind. It all started with what seemed like an innocuous promotional image for their upcoming Ravnica Remastered set, featuring a steampunk-style laboratory showcasing new “retro frame” versions of lands.
However, eagle-eyed fans noticed something amiss—certain background details in the image bore the telltale signs of AI-generated art.
This image posted by the official Magic: The Gathering account, while it claims otherwise, is likely AI generated. Please see below:— Is it AI? (@isitai_) January 6, 2024
Observers noted anomalies in the rendering of fine details, particularly evident around bunches of cables and on the dial of a pressure gauge in the image.
The incident quickly snowballed into controversy, especially since WotC has a clear policy against using AI tools in its artwork.
"created by humans" Right... pic.twitter.com/gf9TUXWSPA— TaylorGreen (@GreenSkyDragon) January 5, 2024
4. Base of window stool stands out oddly more than it should at that distance. While possibly just lighting, it looks as though one of the cables going from the bottom to the top of the box is cut off.— Is it AI? (@isitai_) January 6, 2024
Initially, the company stood by the artwork, claiming it was entirely the product of human creativity. This insistence, however, did not sit well with everyone, driving veteran MtG artist Dave Rapoza to resign from his role in protest.
And just like that, poof, I’m done working for wizards of the coast - you can’t say you stand against this then blatantly use AI to promote your products, emails sent, good bye you all! https://t.co/RAfJi5NhxR— Dave Rapoza (@DaveRapoza) January 6, 2024
As the matter escalated, WotC eventually conceded that the controversial marketing image did indeed contain “some AI components,” noting that AI elements have started to creep into industry-standard tools like Photoshop and made their presence in creative work more commonplace.
In response to the backlash, WotC issued a statement emphasizing its commitment to human creativity. “We require artists, writers, and creatives contributing to the Magic TCG to refrain from using AI generative tools to create finalâ¯Magicâ¯products,” it noted.
Well, we made a mistake earlier when we said that a marketing image we posted was not created using AI. Read on for more. (1/5)— Magic: The Gathering (@wizards_magic) January 7, 2024
The company, however, acknowledged that it is its responsibility to ensure compliance with this policy, even when working with external vendors on marketing materials.
“What’s now apparent is that we need to update the way we work with vendors on creative beyond our products—like marketing images we use on social media—to make sure that we’re supporting the amazing human ingenuity that is so important to Magic.”
In a bid to reassure its community, WotC has promised to reevaluate its processes for working with third parties.
“Along with so many others, we also want to get better at understanding whether and how AI is used in the creative process. We believe everyone benefits from more transparency and better disclosure. We can’t promise to be perfect in such a fast-evolving space, especially with generative AI becoming standard in tools such as Photoshop, but our aim is to always come down on the side of human-made art and artists.”
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