A neurologist trained rats to play Doom with VR tuning

For science, of course.

A neuroscience engineer has taught rats to play a modified version of shooter Doom. And he also named them after three of the main creators of the original game; John Romero, John Carmack and Tom Hall.

“I built a VR setting for rodents from scratch and trained three rats in an automated way, without manual intervention, to pass through a corridor depicted in the DOOM II engine,” writes Victor Toth. in a blog post. “Although I put in place mechanisms to further train rats to shoot monsters during play, I lacked the time to reinforce the behavior.”

Toth created a unique “rat VR” platform in which one of the three rats stood on a large makeshift trackball in front of a curved monitor. The rat would be allowed to “walk” through the ball, as their body was held in place by a mechanical hand. Sugar water coming through tubes stimulated the rats to move. In essence, Tóth uses a custom game design that offers straight corridors with simple turns before introducing more complex paths with dead ends and random turns.

This eventually led to rats navigate the entire Entryway map from Doom II. So if you’re curious to see the rats in action, be sure to watch the video embedded above.

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