Video games are not just for people anymore. Scientists have been working on teaching pigs to play video games as a way to demonstrate that swine have a lot more intelligence than we give them credit for. Researchers across the United States have created a video game and taught four pigs to play it using a joystick. The animals maneuver the stick with their snouts so they can operate a curser and get it to connect with one of the four targets on the screen.
Evidence from the study suggests that each of the four pigs displayed evidence that they had a conceptual understanding of the game. They proved that they were able to make a connection between the joystick and the moving cursor on the screen. In addition, these pigs also improved at the game for a reward.
These findings are “remarkable” because pigs do not have opposable thumbs and are far-sighted creatures. Nevertheless, these four pigs were adept at playing the video game. While previous research has suggested that pigs can perform basic tricks like “come” and “sit,” no one expected them to be able to play video games.
“It is no small feat for an animal to grasp the concept that the behavior they are performing is having an effect elsewhere,” said author and animal behavior expert Candace Croney of Purdue University, in Indiana, according to Daily Mail. “That pigs can do this to any degree should give us pause as to what else they are capable of learning and how such learning may impact them.”
The pigs used in the study were two Panepinto micro pigs, Ebony and Ivory, as well as two Yorkshire pigs named Omelet and Hamlet.
First, researchers taught the pigs to manipulate the joystick. They rewarded correct behaviors with food. Once the pigs could use the joystick, the researchers taught them how to play the game. The findings indicated that the pigs were not only able to play the game but were able to do it at a better rate than mere chance would dictate.
Although pigs were not as good at video games as primates, they did show potential. However, pigs did not seem to completely understand the game’s concept but did show some understanding. However, this lack could be explained by the fact that pigs do not have hands and have difficulty seeing at close range.
“I don’t think this will come as a surprise to anybody who works with pigs,” pig farmer Kate Daniels of Willow Farm in Worcestershire told B.B.C. Radio 4’s Today Program. “They’re not playing Minecraft — but that they can manipulate a situation to get themselves a reward is no surprise at all. There’s a bit of a hackneyed phrase among pig-keepers, which is that dogs look up to you, cats look down on you, and a pig looks you right in the eye — and there’s a lot of truth in that. When you look a pig in the eye, you can tell that there’s intelligence there.”
Did you know pigs were this smart?
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