Players are seeing a severe increase in M-rated Skyrim mods that are using AI-generated voices based on real voice actors.
Recently, the Skyrim modding community has been plagued by AI voice generators using voice actors without their consent. Now many of the actors have come out decrying the practice of cloning performances without consent, especially for pornographic purposes.
AI-generated voice acting has become more prevalent thanks to the new AI tool ElevenLabs. It slowly gathered momentum through 2022 among Skyrim modders, with Nexus Mods officially stating that "AI-generated mod content is not against our rules", which added further controversy to the AI debate.
With the rise of AI voice cloning, voice actors are being abused by the modding communities. As a member of the Skyrim modding scene, I am deeply concerned at the practice of using AI voice cloning to create and distribute non-consensual deepfake pornographic content. pic.twitter.com/ySUFqrtjH0July 1, 2023
The lengthy Twitter post argues that "voice actors are being abused by the modding communities", user Robbie92_ said. "I am a deeply concerned member of the mod community for The Elder Scrolls series of games".
Robbie lists the names of voice actors who have lent their talents to The Elder Scrolls series of games and have subsequently been impersonated by AI voice cloning to create pornographic content.
Luckily, players can do a few things right now to try and alleviate this problem. These problematic game mods are being hosted on the Nexus mods website, so Robbie points users towards contacting the host website to voice complaints and "demand the removal of works containing your voices used for deep fake pornographic content".
The site does, in fact, have a DMCA form for players to use if they find a project using content inappropriately or illegally. However, it is unclear how effective using this approach is.
Voice actor Zane Schacht weighed in on the controversy tweeting that AI voices are "fucking gross" just in principle. "The act of taking an actor's voice without their consent and making it say anything, ESPECIALLY NSFW content, is fucking heinous."
News like this is hard to digest, especially when there are so many terrific Skyrim mods available. While there may not be an easy fix, thanks to the almost infinite number of mods, hopefully, with help from the community, we can all make a change to this horrid practice.
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Elie is a Features Writer for TechRadar Gaming, here to write about anything new or slightly weird. Before writing for TRG, Elie studied for a Masters at Cardiff University JOMEC in International Journalism and Documentaries – spending their free time filming short docs or editing the gaming section for their student publications.
Elie’s first step into gaming was through Pokémon but they've taken the natural next step in the horror genre. Any and every game that would keep you up at night is on their list to play - despite the fact that one of Elie’s biggest fears is being chased.