"Two people could potentially do the work that used to be done by ten."
AI image generators are already taking work away from China-based videogame artists and illustrators, Rest of World reports.
Illustrator Amber Yu told the publication she used to make anywhere between $430 and $1,000 for the time-intensive labor of drawing videogame posters. But now, after some firms made moves to replace human artists with faster and cheaper AI generators, she's finding herself mostly being recruited for making small fixes and edits to AI-generated drawings.
It's a much simpler task that, on average, only brings in about ten percent of her previous rates.
Several other game illustrators echoed these claims.
"AI is developing at a speed way beyond our imagination," Xu Yingying, an illustrator at an independent game art studio in Chongqing, China, told Rest of World. Xu's studio has laid off 15 specialized illustrators this year alone due to AI image generators.
"Two people could potentially do the work that used to be done by ten," Xu added.
It's a harrowing anecdote, and unfortunately for many, one that we can probably expect to see more of.
Late last month, Goldman Sachs released an eyebrow-raising memo arguing that AI has the potential to automate 300 million jobs.
And when it comes to AI-generated images specifically, AI programs like Midjourney and Stable Diffusion are only getting better at creating convincing artwork, forcing illustrators to adapt in ways they aren't exactly thrilled about.
"If I'm a top-notch artist, I might be able to boycott [the companies]," Yu, the freelance illustrator, told Rest of World. "But I have to eat," she added, admitting that she's planning to train an AI with her art.
The Chinese videogame market has had a particularly rough couple of years. A government licensing freeze established back in 2021 put thousand of gaming companies out of business, causing an industry-wide job crisis.
While some game developers told Rest of World that they would refrain from totally substituting human artists' labor with AI, the technology has already allowed them to cut costs following the licensing freeze.
But this, of course, comes at its own price.
"Our way of making a living is suddenly destroyed," one videogame artist, who opted to stay anonymous, told the publication.
READ MORE: AI is already taking video game illustrators' jobs in China [Rest of World]
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