Valve will now allow AI-driven games on Steam, expects users to flag ‘illegal content’

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Steam will now host games made with AI tech, Valve has announced, while users will be able to flag content they deem illegal.

After months of deliberation, Valve has now put together a new set of rules regarding the use of AI in games listed on Steam.

Long story short: games that have been built using AI tools – or contain AI content – can now be listed on the platform. There are some conditions attached, though: developers will have to pledge that their games don’t contain any ‘illegal or [copyright] infringing content’, and if their game’s capable of developing content on-the-fly (‘live-generated’), then the developer will need to tell Valve “what kind of guardrails” are in place to stop their game from generating illegal content.

At the same time, Steam has also announced a new reporting system in which users can flag AI content they consider to be illegal.

“Using the in-game overlay,” the company’s announcement reads, “players can easily submit a report when they encounter content that they believe should have been caught by appropriate guardrails on AI generation.”

There’s also a caveat involving adult content – anything of that nature generated using AI isn’t currently allowed on Steam at present.

The rules provide an efficient means of ensuring that developers can still use the latest AI-based tools to develop their games, while at the same time insulating Valve from legal blowback from their use. Generative software like ChatGPT and Midjourney are still a relatively new frontier, and the legalities surrounding them are still in flux. AI firms rely on the art and code produced by flesh-and-blood humans to ‘train’ their products, which has led to several individuals and outlets suing OpenAI – the makers of ChatGPT – for stealing their work.

On the 8th January, OpenAI admitted that it was ‘impossible’ to train its technology “without using copyrighted materials”, but argued that the synthesis of people’s work to generate derivatives falls under ‘fair use’. Whether courts and governments ultimately agree to this argument will have a huge impact on how this particular type of AI is used – and what kinds of games appear on Steam in years to come.

Read more: ChatGPT, the rise of AI, and writing about film

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