Everlasting, Neverending Game Night

a.i. is getting in our business

Published about 2 months ago • 2 min read

Hi Reader,

Welcome! Please, come in. Make yourself at home. It's so good to see you. I brought in some wild violets and dandelion flowers from the back yard and put them in a bowl of water.

I’ve been reading up on A.I. It’s mind-boggling what it can do—and how fast it's changing.

It can write and draw things that look like a person made them. But it's not great on factual accuracy or single-point perspective. The thing is, it's always "hallucinating"—fumbling blindly, algorithmically, for results. It's just gotten really good at hallucinating things we like.

Despite the hallucinations and the errors, it's getting better at more and more things: generating fake videos. Writing code. Even ​designing gene-editing tools​. All faster and cheaper than a human could.

A.I. is yet another tech wave, but it's not the non sequitur of "the blockchain" or the nothing burger of NFTs. It's a level of automation the world hasn't seen before.

Here’s how inescapable it is: Even after Wizards of the Coast declared they wouldn’t use any more A.I. art, they recently had to admit that some snuck in anyway. Apparently, the artist had used Photoshop, like most do. And Photoshop is now thoroughly shot through with A.I.

Wizards says they had no idea, and I believe them. People are on deadlines; they're on budgets. I mean both the creators who reach for this tool and the editors reviewing their work. A.I. is a boon to business.

Still, people are pushing back against the new automation. Just because something's online doesn't make it free—including the content that corporations have used to train their bots. That work has a new value, but the A.I. companies won't pay for it unless someone makes them. So, the New York Times is suing Microsoft and OpenAI over copyright infringement. Individual artists, with less leverage, forbid companies from scraping their art. The rights of creators will be decided in court.

Companies like Visual Electric have skipped the debate. “Of course your artwork comes from A.I.,” they say. “Here’s a smoother workflow.” Visual Electric knows that, after the rights questions get hammered out, most working artists’ jobs will change to writing prompts and pruning what the prompts provide. Deadlines and budgets.

Meanwhile, our quirky art form—TTRPGs—remains mostly untouched, revolving around real humans collaborating on a handmade story. We like physical books and dice you can hold.

TTRPGs are analog. They're retro.

We’re right to focus on “high touch” over high tech. It’s a vital answer to a virtual age. There's no substitute for the sublimely human experience that TTRPGs provide, especially now.

But the waves of the digital sea lap around us anyway.

Zoom and Discord let us game across time zones, often using a vibrant​ecosystem​ of virtual tabletops​. Many—most?—folks can't imagine playing D&D without ​D&D Beyond​. And ​One More Multiverse​ is brilliantly blurring the lines between tabletop and video games.

Soon, A.I. will stop being a question. One way or another, we'll make peace with the copyright issues, and we'll handle the errors.

Then it will change everything: The value of work. How we know if something's true.

But we’ll still need each other to tell stories with, and to.

And we’ll always need to look out for each other.

Let’s promise to do that. Then the whole world can change, and it won't matter.


Everlasting, Neverending Game Night

by Chris Sellers, they/them

🌈🚀 Reliable wonder engine. I make narrative role-playing games that imagine a weirder, queerer, more connected world.

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