Pigs are known to be very smart animals, and now scientists have demonstrated that they are capable of playing video games.
According to the BBC, scientists in the UK conducted research that they say demonstrates that certain swine are intelligent enough to control an arcade-style joystick and understand the connection between their actions and the results on screen. The exact nature of the game the pigs played was not described, however, but who are you to judge a pig who can play video games?
The four pigs–Hamlet, Omelette, Ebony, and Ivory–were recently trained by the researchers to play a basic video game with their snouts. The scientists said it was “no small feat” that the swine were able to play the game and understand what they were doing. It’s also remarkable because pigs are far-sighted and they don’t have hands or thumbs.
The pigs were given rewards to incentize their participation, but even after the dispenser that gave them the food rewards broke, they continued to play.
“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.
As anyone who has played a video game will tell you, it’s not always easy, and the pigs can relate to that struggle.
From the report:
“Out of the two Yorkshire pigs, Hamlet, was better at the game than Omelette, but both struggled when it got harder – hitting the single target just under half the time.
The Panepinto micro pigs had a bigger gamer skill gap – while Ivory was able to hit one-wall targets 76% of the time, Ebony could only do it 34% of the time.”
Farmer Kate Daniels told BBC Radio 4 that the results of the study are no surprise, because pigs are very intelligent. “I don’t think this will come as a surprise to anyone that works with pigs,” she said. “They’re not playing Minecraft–but that they can manipulate a situation to get a reward is no surprise at all. When you look a pig right in the eye, you can tell there’s intelligence there.”
For what it’s worth, similar studies have been conducted with chimpanzees and monkeys, and they performed better, but they have opposable thumbs.