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Wizards denies use of AI art after MTG job post goes viral

Wizards of the Coast came under fire over AI art again this week as fans believed an old MTG job post showed the company intended to embrace the technology.

MTG AI art - A myr with a paintbrush

Wizards of the Coast released a new statement on December 19, reaffirming its policy on AI art after a viral post fuelled backlash from fans. Twitter user Girldrawsghosts claimed the description of an expired Digital Artist MTG job role indicated plans to save on manpower by using AI, but according to Wizards, the job only involved “touch-up work on other human-created art”.

The Twitter user shared screenshots of the job description on Monday, connecting this role to the recent 1,100 Hasbro layoffs which included members of Wizards’ art team. The job’s duties included refining and touching up existing MTG illustrations, which Girldrawsghosts claimed was a euphemism for tweaking and correcting art produced by AI.

MTG AI art - tweet thread

“If you don’t have artists, whose artwork are you touching up?” her tweet reads. The thread gained traction fast, with 23k likes and 7k retweets at time of writing. “Extending characters and adjusting visual elements with intricate alpha masks is code for ‘can you draw hands?’” she added, describing the situation as “disgusting”.

MTG AI art - a job listing for a digital artist

But now the official Magic: The Gathering Twitter account has rebutted these claims.“That job listing involved editing and touch-up work on other human-created art. It’s not in relation to touch-up work on generative AI,” it posted on Tuesday.

Freelance illustrator Jason Rainville, who describes himself as “staunchly anti-AI” and “not trusting of corps” described the situation as “a nothingburger”. (You’ll probably recognize much of his MTG work, like that fabulous Storm the Seedcore art that looks like a Renaissance painting). “The job description is listing responsibilities for things that happen all the time with AI art,” he tweeted, saying that the original poster was engaged in pure speculation.

He also pointed out that most of the layoffs weren’t artists, as Girldrawsghosts described – we know from our own coverage of the Hasbro layoffs that a wide range of Wizards of the Coast job roles were struck. It’s worth noting that at some point in the discussion the 1,100 Hasbro layoffs, which included a number of roles at Wizards, has warped, and now many wrongly think there were 1,100 layoffs at WOTC alone.

It’s been a big week for AI scares, as earlier, fans thought they’d spotted AI art in previews for the upcoming 2024 edition of the Player’s Handbook. On December 18, a YouTuber posted an apology video for wrongly calling out a piece showing a Dwarven DnD Fighter as AI-generated. D&D Beyond also tweeted a statement confirming the piece did not use AI.

DnD AI art accusation tweet from Taron Pounds

The furore around AI art in the past few days led Wizards of the Coast to post an ‘Updated statement on AI’ to both the Magic: The Gathering and DnD Beyond websites on Tuesday. The statement, identical on both websites, says the company’s guidelines on use of AI tools has not changed.

“We require artists, writers, and creatives contributing to the D&D TTRPG/ Magic TCG to refrain from using AI generative tools to create final D&D/Magic products,” it reads. Some fans remain unsatisfied, however, placing emphasis on the word ‘final’, and arguing this means AI could be used in early stages of the process.

MTG AI art - statement on DnD Beyond

As you’ve probably noticed by now, Wizards of the Coast fans care deeply about keeping AI art out of their favorite games. The two main arguments revolve around protecting the livelihoods of artists, as well as concerns about the very process through which AI art is generated.

Broadly speaking, fans don’t want to see AI in tabletop RPGs, and the tabletop industry as a whole is fairly united in its opposition to the technology. Gloomhaven creator Isaac Childres told Wargamer that AI art feels like theft, while Kickstarter rival Backerkit has banned its use for games on the crowdfunding platform.

Wizards of the Coast has had a few slip-ups on the AI art front in the past, which – along with other recent scandals – is probably why fans are quick to point the finger in its direction. After an artist used AI art for work submitted for the DnD book Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants, Wizards posted an apology and came up with its current AI policy. But fans were disgruntled once more when it appeared that AI art was used in an advert for the recent Tomb Raider Secret Lair.

As technology improves and it becomes increasingly difficult to determine at a glance what art is AI-generated and what is not, no doubt stories like this will keep cropping up. Hopefully it doesn’t get too witch-hunty. Keep coming back and we’ll keep you informed with the latest.

Speaking of which, are you up to speed on what’s coming out from Wizards of the Coast in the new year? If not, our MTG release schedule and DnD release schedule guides will fill you in.