What's the most ingenious thing pigs can do? They can play video games apparently! A very bizarre experiment no doubt, but scientists have taught four pigs- Hamlet, Omelette, Ebony and Ivory how to maneuver an arcade-style joystick that will enable it in playing video games.
Scientists part of the experiment who are from the Purdue University in Indiana, US have marveled at the fact that the animals have been able to understand the link between the joystick and the video games. Calling it a "no small feat", the researchers gave the animals food pellets as rewards whenever they won a level. Also, another interesting thing the scientists observe was that even when the food rewards got over, the pigs kept playing, which the former believed was for the need of social contact, encouraged by some kind words from the researchers.
"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," lead author Dr Candace Croney said.
The pigs were seen to be using their snouts to play the video games and scientists think that the mere idea that they could play video games at all was "remarkable" as they have no hands or thumbs like some other animals that more closely resemble human beings.
However, it wasn't easy for the pigs and the researchers found that their understanding of the game was less than as displayed by primates. One of the Yorkshire pigs, Hamlet turned out to be a better player than Omelette, but both of them had to struggle a lot with the game when the playing levels shot up.
The other two animals involved in the study, the Panepinto micro pigs were slower than Hamlet and Omelette. Ivory managed to hit one-wall targets 76% of the time, while Ebony could only do it 34% of the time, thus portraying a much wider gap.
The animals, essentially were not able to demonstrate an equally good playing skillset of primates and thus have not been able to ace the games as such.
Kate Daniels, from Willow Farm in Worcestershire, however seemed less surprised at the outcome of the study despite the scientists being impressed. She reportedly told BBC Radio 4 that it "this will hardly come as a surprise to anyone that works with pigs. They're not playing Minecraft - but that they can manipulate a situation to get a reward is no surprise at all."
Scientists have earlier performed such experiments with chimpanzees and monkeys, who have the advantage of opposable thumbs. The research paper came out in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.