The game that’s all about drawing and creativity, Gartic Phone, adds and then swiftly removes an AI mode, in ‘a straight … – PC Gamer

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Over the weekend, the artistic version of Broken Telephone or pictionary with extra steps known as Gartic Phone added and then quickly removed an AI art mode, and many of the artists who have been supporting and propping this game up with streams and videos are not happy, with some boycotting the game permanently. 

Usually, Gartic Phone involves someone coming up with a phrase and then a group of people taking turns to draw and then describe said thing in a Broken Telephone meets pictionary-type game. There are also loads of different iterations of this format you can enjoy, like animating scenes, or drawing things in the dark, which are all pretty creative. However, a new AI mode that was in beta on American and Japanese servers over the weekend broke this theme. 

The mode let players type in a phrase and then watch as Gartic’s AI drew an image to the best of its ability. From the videos taken when the mode was still available, all of the drawings look funky, to say the least, as its pictures are clearly an uncanny amalgamation of different images found on the internet and thrown together.  

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If you want to check it out for yourself now, you can’t—Gartic Phone removed the mode almost as soon as it went up due to numerous artists voicing their outrage. “If anyone hasn’t seen, @Gartic added an AI mode to gartic phone,” digital artist and Vtuber ArtWomble explains in a tweet. “Which, for anyone who has any knowledge of the digital art landscape, knows is a straight-up slap in the face to any and all artists in the space. Adding a mode that uses art that’s unethically ripped from artists all over the Internet is a damn disgrace, and I can’t in good conscience continue to support a company who thinks this is okay.”

It’s an understatement to say it’s bad for business for Gartic Phone to lose the support of all the artists who prop this game up with creative streams or art contests. I used to watch tons of brilliant streams where artists would draw or animate scenes in the web browser game—it’s actually what encouraged me to give it a go with my friends. And I’m not the only one whose attention was peaked by these artists. 

“Gartic Phone owes a lot of its current popularity to artists who not only put millions of eyes on the game but showed that it could even be used as an exciting collaborative tool,” artist Oponok says in a tweet. “What a damning way to shoot yourself in the foot for completely short-term novelty.”

It’s also a bit of a pointless mode. If you want to create strange pictures with AI, then there are plenty of ways to do that already. But I always thought that the point of Gartic Phone was to give creativity a go, even if you can’t draw to save your life. I’ve had tons of games that were made better because none of my friends have an artistic bone in their body, and it means no one can figure out if someone drew Mr. Grumpy or a bus; or if someone spelled desert wrong, so now we have four pictures of a poorly drawn camel standing on top of a chocolate cake. Getting an AI to do the drawing for you feels like it removes most of the fun and chaos from Gartic Phone. 

There hasn’t been a public post about the failed AI mode yet, as it was only up for about 16 hours. But hopefully, this means that the web browser game will stick to what it’s good at, making space for creatives to do what they do best. 

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