Research into pigs playing video games began in the 1990s, when Candace Croney, author of the study and director of Purdue University’s Center for Animal Welfare Science, teamed up with pig researcher Stanley Curtis. The pair raised two Yorkshire pigs for one Pong-like game designed for chimpanzees, where the animals (named Hamlet and Omelet) are encouraged to operate a joystick with their muzzle.
Both pigs were myopic and needed some adjustments to see the computer screen. But the pigs learned the game quickly, achieving more than 70% accuracy by the end of the study. Candace Croney states that Hamlet and Omelette continued to play without food rewards (the machine that gave out rewards broke), and would deliberately trot to the game after begging to get out of their cage first.
The study was later replicated with a pair of Panepinto micro-pigs, which achieved similar results. In the video above, you can get a glimpse of Hamlet catching his game sometime in the mid-2000s.
Have you ever had the chance to enter the arcade with a pig? Probably not. While this peer-reviewed study proves that pigs can associate a joystick with on-screen events, the pigs tested could only play their rudimentary game on an “easy” setting. Chimpanzees and other primates also outperform our hog-headed gamers in similar tests.
Source: Frontiers of Psychology via The BBC