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Raging Controversy Over The Use of AI Art in Video Games

Updated: Jun 27

The collision of AI technology and video game development has sparked controversy, as the debate rages over the use of artificial intelligence in game development and the broader implications for artists and the gaming industry.

Controversy Over AI Art in Video Games
source: Square Enix

Square Enix's Experiment with AI in Foamstars

In the forthcoming multiplayer game Foamstars, Square Enix ventured into the realm of AI-generated art. Producer Kosuke Okatani revealed that while the core elements were crafted by human hands, the development team experimented with AI, utilizing Midjourney to create in-game art for album covers. The move aligns with Square Enix's broader goal of being "aggressive" in using AI for development and publishing.

Controversy Over AI Art in Video Games

The Transparency Debate

Square Enix's announcement of AI-generated assets in Foamstars stirred the online community, raising concerns about transparency and the potential impact on artists. President Takashi Kiryu's positive outlook on generative AI and its transformative potential in creative processes adds fuel to the ongoing debate. The controversy also touches on the use of artificial intelligence in the creation of game assets, prompting questions about copyright infringement.

Industry-Wide Implications

Beyond Foamstars, the controversy of AI-generated assets extends to the broader video game industry. Instances such as High on Life using AI art for posters and Marvel's Secret Wars employing fully AI-generated opening credits highlight the growing influence of AI in entertainment. Steam's rejection of games featuring AI art assets due to unclear copyright ownership raises significant questions about the industry's stance on AI-created content. This was their official statement issued to game developers on the matter:

“As the legal ownership of such AI-generated art is unclear, we cannot ship your game while it contains these AI-generated assets, unless you can affirmatively confirm that you own the rights to all of the IP used in the data set that trained the AI to create the assets in your game,”

"At this time, we are declining to distribute your game since it’s unclear if the underlying AI tech used to create the assets has sufficient rights to the training data.”

Given that the majority of AI tools cannot confidently assert legal ownership over their entire training dataset, and even if they could, the ethical implications may remain questionable, this policy essentially results in an overall prohibition of AI-generated assets in games.

Controversy Over AI Art in Video Games

Final Thoughts

As AI technology continues to shape the landscape of video game development, the controversy surrounding its use in creating art intensifies. Square Enix's experimentation with Foamstars, coupled with industry-wide debates and Steam's cautious approach, underscores the need for careful consideration of the ethical and legal implications of AI-generated content. The intersection of AI art controversy and AI technology in video games remains a complex and evolving narrative, challenging the industry to find a balance between innovation and respect for artists' rights.

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