‘System Shock’ publisher defends using AI to create artwork of the game’s AI villain

The artwork was supposedly meant to start a "conversation" on AI

Prime Matter has defended its decision to use AI software for an illustration of SHODAN, the rogue AI villain of the publisher’s upcoming System Shock remake.

Last week, Prime Matter’s social media account for System Shock shared artwork of SHODAN given human form (via Eurogamer), with a caption reading: “Imagine, how would my immortal body look like? Designed by an immortal machine for an immortal machine”.


As detailed by Prime Matter, the artwork was created using Midjourney AI software — but the irony of the System Shock publisher using AI to create artwork for a murderous AI was not lost on fans of the game.

“Idk if anyone told you guys but the game is about evil AI,” wrote one Twitter user, while a number of other replies have stated they will be cancelling pre-orders of the game due to the use of AI.

The use of AI in the world of art is controversial, as AI software “scrapes” other artwork from the internet to generate images — with critics describing the process as plagiarism.

On Monday (May 2), Prime Matter defended its use of Midjourney to create the artwork of SHODAN, and claimed it was an attempt at “starting the conversation” around AI.

“This was never about using AI to create artwork instead of using real people. This was about using AI to imagine what AI imagines itself to look like,” argued the company.


“We will use AI again to create other pieces (including artwork). We may well use AI in other areas too. But this will never be at the expense of using skilled people or their creative talents.”

However, System Shock fans remain unconvinced by Prime Matter’s argument.

Debates surrounding the ethics of AI are currently taking place across the wider entertainment industry. While the likes of Liam Gallagher and Grimes have shared approval for AI-created music, Nick Cave recently described its use as “a grotesque mockery of what it is to be human”.

Likewise, an AI version of Kurt Cobain singing Hole’s ‘Celebrity Skin’ received a mixed reception from listeners.

As for System Shock, Nightdive’s remake is set to release later this month following a series of delays.

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