rats are commonly used as guinea pigs, in medicine, cosmetics or tech. It is one of the most used species in animal experiments because these rodents are easier to breed. While in 2020, the whole world is confined because of the Covid pandemic – 19, the former neuro-engineer Viktor Tóth is severely bored. He set out to teach three rats to play the video game Doom II .
If he wanted to learn more about the brain-machine interface, Viktor Tóth launched this experiment more out of curiosity. He tells Futurism that he also did this “because it’s just cool” . No really grandiloquent ambitions behind this training, therefore.
“Why make them play Doom II ?” , you may be wondering. To the scientist, the answer seems simple. The first video game map was perfect in his eyes with long, empty hallways and crisp turns. In addition, it is very easy to modify the maps on Doom II . So many reasons to choose this great classic from 1994.
Viktor Tóth has created a virtual reality set-up for rats, for the modest sum of 2, 000 dollars. Very roughly, he puts the rodents on a huge ball with sensors, and wires everywhere. When the rat runs on the ball, his character (in FPS) advances in the game. By touch, the rats are able to open the doors of the game. And so on…
After several days and weeks, the rats now know how to move, open doors and even shoot enemies in this 3D environment. And to make sure they haven’t learned to shoot at a specific time, the scientist positions the enemy in various places around the map. The rats had to learn to recognize it. For any success, rodents are entitled to a well-deserved reward: a little sugar water.
This may be surprising but it is nevertheless very real. Viktor Tóth would like to eventually open his Twitch channel to share the progress of his three rats. A good way to monetize such a project, according to him. But for that, the rats would have to “play” longer than they do now. At the moment, only the rat Romero has managed to play for a quarter of an hour.