A downloadable fundraising game

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Likeness Machines

A tarot journaling game of AI exploitation and union solidarity

Last Friday, July 14, 2023, 170,000 card-carrying union members of SAG-AFTRA went on strike to fight for better rights, benefits, and wages in the filmmaking industry, joining 11,500 striking writers of the WGA. One man concern for both groups of working artists is how studio executives are pushing, or could push, for artists being replaced with AI. What would that look like? What is at stake?

This is a game in response to that question, that potential dystopia, that union sticking point.

In “Likeness Machines," you draw tarot cards to determine the future the growing career of a fictional actor. But as your actor faces hardship and failure, the heads of studios scheme to replace your actor with an AI replicant. To win, you’ll have to race against the snowballing power of your AI self and get out of the industry while you can. The game showcases a speculative, satirical dystopia — but one that’s unfortunately within reach with further union busting, profit seeking corps, and streaming’s enshittification.

Pay-what-you-want for a cause

To help workers on the front lines of the fight against tech giants and AI, all game profits will go to the Entertainment Community Fund and SAG/WGA-approved emergency strike funds. There are hundreds of thousands being denied a fair deal by executives, purchasing this game can help get meals on the table, air in bike tires, and filmmaking-adjacent business prosper another day.

The suggested price is $3.20, any amount is generous.

What are others saying?

You can watch a full playthrough of the game on LaLionneCosplay's Twitch stream.

Rather than just creating interesting prompts and situations, Likeness Machines satirises the professional world that studio executives seem hell-bent on creating. The politics of the game are worn on its sleeve and unafraid to crop up in the design. Players will directly confront existential threats, being treated like an outdated piece of tech and what it means to lose control of something you helped create.

- Chase Carter, Dicebreaker

When union activist and game designer Pearse Anderson saw SAG-AFTRA begin their strike on Friday, beginning with some nightmarish examples of how film studios try to use AI to exploit workers, he knew he had to make a game to support those on the picket lines.

-  The Fandomentals

Sean Foer played Likeness Machines for his TikTok, where his actor Dec Fine was subsumed by an AI replacement, but it was great while it lasted.

Likeness Machines is a darkly funny, satirical, pro-union game, and all the profits go to the Entertainment Fund and other emergency strike funds.

How does this game feel to play?

Some info about "Likeness Machines" to help you out:

  • There's an Actual Play here to read for yourself about a game I played, about a child actor trying to move on from a difficult puppeter and early career.
  • The game is a double-sided one-page TTRPG on 8.5x11 (US Letter) paper, so it can be easily printed and played from your home.
  • It's a 1-2 player game.
  • It's an easy game to learn, for any age.
  • Games last ~30 minutes.
  • There are no dice, combat mechanics, math, or moving parts needed, just a deck of tarot cards, index cards, and pen.

OK, but, like, what happens in the game?

  • You design and journal about a fictional actor trying to make art (and a living).
  • You ALSO play as their replicant AI trained on all of their performances.
  • You race to exit the game before your AI fully takes over your stage presence.
  • You act through commerials, podcasts, video games, and Oscar-winning films.
  • You struggle through unexpected performances: paparazzi freak-outs, divorce court hearings, sex tapes, and more.
  • Tarot card symbology and SAG-AFTRA coverage help define your performances.
  • You Awaken an AI and try to prove its worth to greedy studio executives.
  • You enjoy a mix of vintage aesthetics and late stage capitalism!

Quotes that inspired this game

“This sort of investment in AI, regardless of how it abuses working class people or devalues artists, is spreading across multiple industries.”

- Lin Codega, on the studios’ nightmarish AI proposals at the heart of this strike, 2023

Robin Wright: “What will you do with this... thing? That you call Robin Wright?”
Jeff of Miramount: “We'll do all the things that your Robin Wright wouldn't do.”

- The Congress, 2013

“When a star is assessed to be of certain liability, like say if there was a whole book written about what a reckless jackass he is, you make a digital replica of his head, so you're not screwed if he goes all Belushi on you.”

- Lenny Turteltaub, Bojack Horseman (2x01), 2015

“It cannot usurp and exercise the faculties of the human mind, it cannot be made to vary its operations so as to meet the ever-varying circumstances of a game of chess. This is the province of intellect alone.”

- Robert Willis upon viewing the Mechanical Turk, 1820

How can I help?

Support the workers in filmmaking organizing for a stronger and more humane tomorrow. Join a picket line; pass information to strike captains, the press, or the NLRB; and support the emergency fund for workers here.

Follow SAG and WGA on social to learn about more specific demands, events, and changes to strike policy: there's a lot of misinformtion floating around out there.

Thank you everyone who purchases, shares, or contributed to this game! Thank you Satah for fantastic game editing. Happy playing! Tell me what happens xoxoxo.

StatusIn development
CategoryPhysical game
Release date Jul 17, 2023
Rated 5.0 out of 5 stars
(5 total ratings)
AuthorPearse Anderson
Made withAdobe Photoshop
Tagsartificial-intelligence, fundraiser, journaling, movie, Solo RPG, Story Rich, Tabletop, Tarot, Tabletop role-playing game, union
Average sessionAbout a half-hour


Download NowName your own price

Click download now to get access to the following files:

Likeness Machine Rules.pdf 1 MB
Likeness Machies Actor Sheet.pdf 732 kB
Likeness Machines AI Sheet.pdf 1 MB
PrintAndPlayPacket_LikenessMachines.pdf 10 MB


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Now that the VOD isn't on my Twitch channel anymore, here is the updated link to the video on YouTube! Thank you for writing this game, and for such a wonderful cause!

Thank you so much for your kind words and playthrough, I've updated the page! 

Absolutely! 🥰 I have all my notes from my game written up so I'll flesh it out at some point and record a dramatic reading of it for my YouTube channel when I do. 😂