Next time you log in to Fortnite keep out for the usernames Hamlet, Omelette, Ebony and Ivory, as they may just be pigs. As in, actual snouty, bacon flavoured animals, not toxic players. Researchers have taught the pigs to manipulate a joystick using their snout, moving a cursor around a on-screen and reaching the goal and rewarding the porcine player with a delicious treat to eat.
“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 told the BBC. The researchers are impressed the pigs could even play the game as they are far-sighted creatures and, well, they have no hands. The MVP was Ivory, a Panepinto micro pig, who managed to reach the target 76% of the time.
“What they were able to do is perform well above chance at hitting these targets,” commented Candace Croney, director of Purdue University’s Center for Animal Welfare Science and lead author of the paper in a phone call to Gizmodo. “And well enough above chance that it’s very clear they had some conceptual understanding of what they were being asked to do.”
“They’re not playing Minecraft – but that they can manipulate a situation to get a reward is no surprise at all,” commented Kate Daniels from Willow Farm in Worcestershire.
The pixel perfect porkers were spared the chop when the research ended, Hamlet and Omelette and were adopted by a couple running a bed and breakfast on a farm and Ebony and Ivory are living out their days in a children’s petting zoo.
The research will help with animal welfare and allow farmers to devise interactions to help stave off boredom, and may also help them monitor social interactions.
Meanwhile, humans are using Pomegranates to play Hades.
SAT 1PM NZT / FRI 4PM PST
— Rudeism (@rudeism) February 11, 2021