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Puerto Rico 1897 publisher promises no AI art in final release after deluxe edition backlash

"Generative AI cannot be used in any part of the art process for this Ravensburger game."

Proposed box art for Puerto Rico 1897's special edition
Image credit: Awakened Realms/Ravensburger

Alleged AI-generated artwork used to promote a special edition of the Puerto Rico 1897 board game has been removed from its Gamefound crowdfunding campaign after licence-holder Ravensburger stepped in.

A preview of the campaign went live on February 27th, and potential backers quickly spotted what they called tell-tale signs of AI generative tools in the promotional images and the potential box art used by publisher Awakened Realms.

Comments on the campaign page mentioned six-fingered hands and weird, greebly bits on the architecture and vehicles, and Dice Tower board game previewer Ella Ampongan posted some pretty compelling examples to Twitter, saying “I spy AI art on the promo and the box cover of Puerto Rico. Six fingers and wheel attached to a butt?”

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Days later, the images were pulled from the campaign page and replaced with a blurred version of Puerto Rico 1897’s box art on which someone slapped a plantain boat miniature. The rest of the preview images come from a different board game entirely, namely Castles of Burgandy’s special edition that Awakened Realms produced for Ravensburger in 2023.

According to reporting by BoardGameWire and ComicBook.com, Ravensburger is aware of the issue but has not confirmed that AI-generated artwork was used in the campaign: “"Awaken Realms has the license to develop and publish Puerto Rico 1897 Special Edition," a Ravensburger spokesperson told both outlets. "As the licensor, Ravensburger reached out to Awaken Realms, who has already removed the temporary images that were being used to promote their project's crowdfunding campaign. Ravensburger also reinforced with Awaken Realms that Generative AI cannot be used in any part of the art process for this Ravensburger game."

Puerto Rico 1897 Special Edition will be a remaster of a classic Euro-style board game set on the island one year after it bucked the rule of its Spanish colonisers. Players compete as farmers to establish themselves in a new and burgeoning agriculture economy, hiring workers, growing crops, expanding their land and constructing the city’s infrastructure.

Cover art replacing the alleged AI art used in Puerto Rico 1897's Gamefound campaign
Image credit: Awakened Realms/Ravensburger

The original version of the game, which did not carry the 1897 subtitle, has been thoroughly criticised for its fawning and uncritical portrayal of capitalism via game mechanics and softening of Puerto Rico’s history of slavery. Puerto Rico 1897 addressed many of these issues with the help of cultural consultants hired by Ravensburger, but the board game was pulled from retail shortly after release last year due to extensive rulebook inconsistencies and production problems.

Ravensburger invested $4.5 million in Gamefound back in 2022 under its Next Ventures initiative, signalling its faith in the Kickstarter rival and hoping to “lend industry expertise to Gamefound’s growing community and play a role in continuing to develop the platform’s tools and offerings.” The platform has since cornered the market on large box titles, deluxe editions and board games laden with plastic miniatures. Dicebreaker has reached out to Awakened Realms and Ravensburger for more information.

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Puerto Rico 1897

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Chase Carter avatar

Chase Carter

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Chase is a freelance journalist and media critic. He enjoys the company of his two cats and always wants to hear more about that thing you love. Follow him on Twitter for photos of said cats and retweeted opinions from smarter folks.
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