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20, Dec, 23

Wizards of the Coast Denies Using AI After Bizarre Controversy

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Throughout the past few years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been an incredibly hot-button topic. On the one hand, countless companies have been jumping aboard the latest bandwagon, slapping AI onto whatever they do. Alternatively, others have been steering well clear, being skeptical of this newfangled and burgeoning technology.

While AI does have some genuinely quite useful uses, it is deeply problematic and controversial in some sectors. Within the art world, for instance, AI is lamented as a dangerous tool that could potentially deprive artists of work. Due to this concern, there’s been a lot of fear and speculation about the use of AI at Wizards of the Coast.

With few statements to go off, MTG players didn’t have a clear answer about Wizards’ stance on AI. As a result of this, it seemed almost inevitable that Hasbro was eyeing up the ever-evolving and improving technology. Thankfully, however, it now seems we’re a long way away from human-made MTG art disappearing entirely. In a new statement, Wizards of the Coast has emphatically steered clear of using AI.

The Future is Human

Kenrith, the Returned King
Kenrith, the Returned King | Throne of Eldraine

Yesterday, seemingly out of the blue, Wizards released a statement about “Generative Artificial Intelligence tools and Magic.” Upon first seeing this headline on Wizards’ website, I and many other MTG players were understandably worried. After all, Hasbro has just announced 1,100 employees are losing their jobs and Wizards is now talking about AI.

At first glance, it seemed like Wizards would be diving headfirst into using AI for the foreseeable future. Thankfully, upon reading Wizards article, this isn’t the case, far from it in fact. Rather than embracing the march of the machine, Wizards is backing the people who make the game what it is. 

“For 30 years, Magic: The Gathering has been built on the innovation, ingenuity, and hard work of talented people who sculpt a beautiful, creative game. That isn’t changing.”

Wizards of the Coast

Continuing in their statement, Wizards reaffirmed the company’s internal guidelines that prohibit using AI tools. Specifically, Wizards requires “artists, writers, and creatives contributing to the Magic TCG to refrain from using AI generative tools to create final Magic products.” Potentially, this could allow for some wiggle room where AI is used for planning, but the final work must be all human. 

Ending their rather brief statement, Wizards once again supported the artists who help to make MTG what it is. “We work with some of the most talented artists and creatives in the world, and we believe those people are what makes Magic great.” While it is definitely nice to know that the jobs of Magic’s artists are safe, this announcement still falls in the shadow of major layoffs. 

Dōmo arigatō, Mr. Roboto

D00-DL, Caricaturist | Unfinity
D00-DL, Caricaturist | Unfinity

As much as it is nice to have this confirmation from Wizards, it did arrive somewhat out of the blue. Across Reddit, there was nary a murmur about the use of AI which could have prompted this response. On Twitter, however, MTG and D&D players were running amok after finding a bizarre job listing.

Following their recently announced mass layoffs, Wizards of the Coast is currently on a bit of a hiring spree. As part of this, Wizards is looking to hire a new Digital Artist for Studio X, who makes tabletop MTG. Within the listing, as @girldrawsghosts spotted, Wizards employs some rather unusual language when discussing the job’s responsibilities.

“Refine and modify illustrative artwork for print and digital media through retouching, color correction, adjusting ink density, re-sizing, cropping, generating clipping paths, and hand-brushing spot plate masks.” 

Wizards of the Coast

While this may seem like a normal job requirement to the untrained eye, @girldrawsghosts claimed Wizards was up to something. Specifically, @girldrawsghosts claimed that the “position is to touch up AI art.” As we mentioned earlier, considering the timing and recently announced layoffs, this seemed incredibly likely.

Spreading like wildfire, many MTG players were understandably concerned, however, some artists saw reason. Writing on Twitter, Storm the Seedcore artist Jason Rainville stated that the job listing is nothing out of the ordinary. “The job description is listing responsibilities for things that happen all the time with MTG art. They’re engaged in pure speculation.”

Explaining this further, Rainville highlighted how it’s not rare to see their own artwork touched up by Wizards. The artwork for Aragorn at Helm’s Deep, for instance, was “extended upward by a dedicated in-house toucher-upper.” Ultimately, this is commonplace as “There are diff markets WotC caters to and a ton of adjustments for print and diff packaging.” 

Dungeons & Dragons Is Safe Too

Edgin, Larcenous Lutenist
Edgin, Larcenous Lutenist | Secret Lair x Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

As if it wasn’t enough that Wizards is preventing AI art in MTG, Dungeons & Dragons is safe too. Alongside the statement on Daily MTG, Wizards also released a parallel post on D&D Beyond. In this post, Wizards similarly stood by the artists, writers, and creatives who help to make D&D such an enjoyable game. 

“For 50 years, D&D has been built on the innovation, ingenuity, and hard work of talented people who sculpt a beautiful, creative game. That isn’t changing. Our internal guidelines remain the same with regards to artificial intelligence tools: We require artists, writers, and creatives contributing to the D&D TTRPG to refrain from using AI generative tools to create final D&D products.” – Wizards of the Coast

Read More: New MTG Arena Set Debuts Controversial Typal Art Changes

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