Wizards of the Coast advertises for AI role, deepening the disconnect with fans

Wizards of the Coast, Hasbro’s multi-million trading card and fantasy role-playing arm, has advertised for an artificial intelligence (AI) position.

For keen-eyed spectators, a key part of the ad stands out: the ideal candidate will “Design, build, and deploy systems for intelligent generation of text dialog, audio, art assets, NPC behaviors, and real-time bot frameworks.”

Wizards have publicly and adamantly refuted AI work, so this news builds on a turbulent relationship with AI. This saga has included mass layoffs, artists tearing up their contracts, AI plagiarism investigations, and repeated breaches of fan trust.

Wizards seem hell-bent on making AI work for the company, and the path to that point goes over the wishes of consumers and creators alike.

Wizards AI role widens breach of trust

As we reported late last year, Wizards had sworn off using AI in any of its products. This was due to what Wizards called a vendor-created image.

The company even made a public statement about using procedurally generated images, saying: “Our internal guidelines remain the same about artificial intelligence tools: We require artists, writers, and creatives contributing to the Magic TCG to refrain from using AI generative tools to create final Magic products.”

Dave Rapoza, a name known to many fans of fantasy art, cards, and videogame concepts, would immediately end his work with Wizards. He posted his stance to X at the time of the backpedal:

And just like that, poof, I’m done working for wizards of the coast – you can’t say you stand against this then blatantly use AI to promote your products, emails sent, good bye you all! https://t.co/RAfJi5NhxR

— Dave Rapoza (@DaveRapoza) January 6, 2024

He would then say, “If you’re gonna stand for something, you better make sure you’re actually paying attention, don’t be lazy, don’t lie.”

The advertised role now stands as a contradiction to this stance. Spice8Rack, a prominent part of the MTG community and a vocal voice for creator rights, responded to the breakdown of the post on X:

Creativity is a waste product in a hyperreal civilisation & @Wizards are gladly transforming their games, once nexuses of imagination, into automated waste treatment plants.

Fuck this & fuck “AI” 👎 https://t.co/De9hyyC0Dg

— Spice8Rack @ MCAmsterdam (@Spice8Rack) June 2, 2024

Wizards continue to flirt with AI

Chris Cocks, the Hasbro CEO and former Wizards head said in a VentureBeat interview: “The advantage we have – it’s funny. This is cutting-edge technology, and Hasbro is a 100-year-old company, which you don’t usually think is–usually you think there’s a threat there. But when you talk about the richness of the lore and the depth of the brands–D&D has 50 years of content that we can mine.”

Cocks has flirted with the idea of a rich repository of media that can be strip-mined, but the company’s repeated stance on AI leaves fans both baffled and angry. Fan backlash has been growing since Wizards of the Coast announced that they propped up Hasbro in a rocky financial year.

Baldur’s Gate 3 and the success of the Universes Beyond: Lord of the Rings emerged as the toy company’s saving grace.

Wizards and Hasbro rewarded that hard work with a savage cull of numbers and huge bonuses for the highest earners, including the now-departed Cynthia Williams.

Williams could have forgone her record windfall to save jobs, but she chose not to do so in a sad year for fantasy fans. Williams left Wizards with a record amount of gold in the coffers but a sad trail of disharmony in her wake.

The company is about to launch Modern Horizons 3 and an Assassins Creed crossover. These massive releases will keep the balance sheet healthy, but fans are beyond tired of the inaccuracy and falsehoods about the turbulent subject of AI in their much-loved fantasy realms.

Image: Wizards.

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Brian-Damien Morgan