Some Guy Actually Trained Rats to Play VR DOOM, For Science

Epic Scientific DOOM RAT Gaming, Haha Yes

It seems like DOOM fans have had enough of the “playing DOOM on unusual devices” gag. Now, it’s time to bring the DOOM experience to all of earth’s wonderful creatures, starting with the lovable rat.

Here’s how it worked: the rat is placed in a harness, suspended atop a polystyrene ball. That ball is tracked with motion sensors, which the computer displays as in-game movement. And when the rat managed to complete whatever exercise was desired, they’d be fed a sugary treat. All automatically, of course – we don’t want to interfere with the rat’s training.

Initially, the test only required the rat to walk to the end of a hallway. Simple enough to solve, the feeding mechanism was in front of the rat anyway. The real hitch came with teaching them to shoot demons. A rearing motion was the trigger for that, detected through the harness – though for the first few encounters, the harness lifted the rat’s back automatically, just so they’d learn the motions.

Much of this process was recorded for your viewing pleasure. It’s rudimentary so far, but the rats are showing some real progress. Though it does raise an important question: are the rats just “going through the motions”, or are they really playing DOOM? An article made by those responsible explains their thoughts, and according to them, they were “kinda” successful. While the results were promising, the rats didn’t learn enough of DOOM before a personal deadline came up.

“In hindsight,” The article reads, “I would much rather implement an already tested response method to train shooting, like a nose-poking system, than the button-pushing contraption. Although the mechanisms to train left-right turning was present, I did not have time to train movements with turns included.”