Scientists Have Found 4 Potbelly Pigs Were Able to Learn How to Play Video Games in a New Research Study
Four pigs – Hamlet, Omelette, Ebony, and Ivory – have been
equipped to navigate an on-screen cursor into walls using an arcade-style joystick.
Researchers said the fact that the pigs understood the connection between the stick and the game “is no small feat”.
And when the food reward dispenser broke down – evidently for social interaction – the potbelly pigs still kept playing.
The potbelly pigs will usually receive a food pellet towards “winning” the level of the game. But it broke during training – and when motivated by some of the kind words of the researchers, they managed to clear the game levels.
“This sort of study is important because, as with any sentient beings, how we interact with pigs and what we do to them impacts and matters to them,” said lead author Dr Candace Croney.
The research team also thought that “remarkable” was the fact that the pigs could play video games at all – considering they are far-sighted animals without hands or thumbs.
But for them, it wasn’t simple.
Hamlet was better at the game than Omelette, out of the two potbelly pigs, but both declined when it got tougher – hitting the single goal just under half the time.
There was a greater gamer ability difference in the Panepinto micro pigs – though Ivory was able to meet one-wall goals 76 percent of the time, Ebony could only do it 34 percent of the time.
But the researchers were also pleased that rather than spontaneously –
what they called “above chance” – the attempts were intentional and centered.
This means that “to some extent, all acquired the association between the joystick and cursor movement”
The same form of experiment has been attempted with chimpanzees and monkeys, which have the benefit of opposable thumbs, and have been able to satisfy researchers’ far higher requirements.