NeoGAFs Kent Brockman
There are many ways people try to play the classic Doom games, but now a scientist trains a bunch of rats to play the influential FPS.
According to a report, as well as a YouTube clip, a neuroengineer named Viktor Tóth has spent the better part of a year teaching three rats to play Doom in a sort of rudimentary way. Tóth explains that they created a VR setup in which the rats could "traverse a corridor" which was built in the Doom 2 engine. Each rat was placed with a harness onto a ball attached to motion trackers. Tubes were placed between the rats and the monitor showing the level, and they were rewarded with sugary water from the tubes when they learned to do the "right" thing.
It was then a case of training them to kill one of Doom's most notorious monsters, the imp, which appeared down the long corridor. Initially, the rats were not sure what to do, but Tóth explains, hit detection in the software was initiated at first that would operate a "push-pull solenoid lifting the animal slightly upwards," touching the button that shoots the imp. With positive reinforcement, the rat gets rewarded with the sugary water once it learns what to do.
On top of this clever and interesting experiment, the rats are named after the co-founders of id Software John Romero, John Carmack, and Tom Hall, with each rat having their own personality. It's perhaps important to state that this is only a rudimentary implementation. The short video shows that the rats are indeed activating the on-screen action in a basic way, but, as the report says, it raises the question of whether they are playing in any "meaningful" way.