It turns out that humans and pigs have one more thing in common! We both enjoy playing video games.
When researchers at the Utrecht School of the Arts (HKU) and Wageningen UR set out to help address the need to curb boredom in pigs, they discovered that they could do so in a very playful way! In Europe, legislation requires farmers to provide entertainment for their pigs to reduce boredom which can lead to aggression and tail biting. Farmers have been experimenting with all kinds of games and ways to provide the entertainment, but have found that it was hard to provide enough of a challenge for the intelligent animals.
The Playing with Pigs project has developed a game called Pig Chase. Farmers have worked closely with the researchers during the development process, and both have been excited about the results thus far. It seems that the pigs really enjoy playing the video game, and the farmers enjoy it as well. The game helps fulfill the pig’s need for play, and raises new and interesting questions about the relationship between humans and pigs.
The game is played through a large sensitive touch display in which the pigs use their snouts to touch lights. Curious about the lights, they will follow them with their snout. The human uses an iPad to control a ball of light on the screen, and when the pig and person get it just right, it lights up in a fireworks style display on the wall. The person can even see a pig snout on the screen while playing! You can see how it works in this video:
To learn more about the project be sure to visit the Playing with Pigs website.
Video and photo via Utrecht School of the Arts (HKU) and Wageningen University and Research Centre