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These Gamers Are Total Pigs

New animal welfare research says pigs are intelligent enough to be trained to play video games — which might have implications for the farming industry

Eat chicken all you want. I don’t give a fuck. I could snap the neck of a rooster if I needed to. But a pig? An adorable, massive creature smart enough to play video games? That’s right, you disgusting bacon-eating monsters: That piece of pork could play video games!

Admittedly, they only played them with their snouts in order to receive treats, but that’s honestly not all too different from human gaming practices. In the culmination of research that began in the 1990s, researchers at Purdue University’s Center for Animal Welfare Science and Ohio State University published their findings in early February about the intelligence of four superstar pigs: Hamlet, Omelet, Ebony and Ivory.

The four pigs — Hamlet and Omelet being Yorkshire pigs, and Ebony and Ivory being Panepinto micro pigs — were trained to operate a joystick with their beautiful snouts to perform rudimentary video-game tasks originally designed for chimpanzees and rhesus monkeys. The basic premise of the game was to move a cursor on screen to hit a varying number of walls. As the game got more difficult, the number of walls decreased.

According to the report, those pigs knocked it out of the freaking park. Little Miss Ivory was even able to play with 76 percent accuracy on the hardest level. Sure, Ebony wasn’t as good at it, and Omelet and Hamlet struggled more as the game progressed. Hamlet and Omelet also couldn’t participate in the study as long as Ebony and Ivory, because they got too big. None of the pigs did as well as the monkeys who have previously been studied under similar conditions, though the obvious physical differences between monkeys and pigs is partially at fault.

Regardless of how well they did, researchers believe their gameplay proves that the pigs associated their movement of the joystick with the movement of the cursor in the game. Genuinely, I wouldn’t expect much more from myself.

So what’s the takeaway here, besides the fact that when you go to hell you will be haunted by the spirits of every massive hog you’ve consumed who actually lives in heaven but just comes down there to remind you of what you’ve done?

More than just establishing the intelligence of pigs, researchers believe this study will help in the development of the physical parameters set for future pig studies. For example, this particular study was limited by the fact that two of the pigs got to be too dang big, and even the smaller pigs struggled to properly move around in order to guide the joystick how they might have wanted.

Anyway, do what thou wilt, eat pork if it pleases you, but perhaps you’ll think of the smarts of our dear friends Hamlet, Omelet, Ebony and Ivory next time you order some sliced ham at the deli.

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