TTRPG publisher Chaosium, best known for publishing Call of Cthulhu and Runequest, has formally disallowed the use of AI art in its projects, citing concern for the impact of AI art on the livelihoods of artists, the ability of artists to maintain control over their created works, and the general ethics around the technology.
AI-created artworks using engines such as Craiyon, Dall-E 2, and Stable Diffusion have exploded in popularity and accessibility recently, allowing people to create a huge range of artworks using text prompts – with results ranging from the outstanding and hyper-realistic to bizarre to horrifying to humorous.
While the creations of AI art engines are a source of interest and amusement for many internet users, there are concerns about AI art infringing on copyright as part of its learning/inspiration algorithm, as well as its wider implications for the creative community generally.
Chaosium have come down very clearly on the side of human artists, explicitly stating they are updating to contracts to require that artworks for their projects need to be created by a human and that AI art programmes were not used in creating said artworks.
The publisher has released an official statement outlining their stance on the issue, which reads:
Art is important to Chaosium and our artists deserve a lot of credit for our successes over the past several years.
We’re updating our art contract templates to include the provision that AI art programs are not to be used: the work needs to be the product of a human artist who can vouch that they created the piece and that it does NOT contain unlicensed derivative use of someone else’s work.
We are concerned about the ethics of AI art and its impact on the livelihoods of artists, and the ability of artists to maintain control over use of their creations.
And on a more pragmatic level, we also believe there is a significant chance that the US courts will, before long, declare that AI art violates the copyright of artists, most probably thousands of artists. There is also the possibility that the European Union – or at least a few significant EU members – will pass legislation that effectively prohibits the webscraping AI programs that now exist.
So, in short – if you are doing art for us, don’t use AI.
The next time you pick up a Chaosium game, you can be confident that all of the art there is the product of a human artist who is passionate about our games and the worlds we create, rather than a set of computer algorithms and prompts.
Artwork has always been an important part of the various Chaosium sourcebooks and the pro-human creator stance is likely to be well received by the community.
Given the evolving nature and capabilites of AI art generation programmes, it’s likely we’ll be seeing a lot more discussion of the issue in the wider gaming community – not just TTRPG publishers and fans, but also computer gaming too.