There’s a new Doomslayer in town and he’s just as furry as he ferocious. A neuroscientist from Budapest, Hungary has trained his three pet rats to play Doom 64, proving just how intelligent–and lethal–these little critters can be.
According to The Daily Mail, scientist Viktor Toth began the process by constructing his own VR setup for the three rodents, aptly named Carmack, Romero, and Tom after the original Doom’s creators. Toth did this by placing the rats on a moving ball in front of his computer screen, allowing them to play Doom in first-person. The three rats started off small with their training, playing only games with long corridors and simple layouts. Once it seemed like they had gotten the hang of it, Toth introduced more complex layouts, filled with dead ends and random turns.
“Rats can be taught very complex tasks and I wanted to teach them to move in the right direction of the game without me interfering.” Toth said.
When the rats successfully navigated the mazes, Toth rewarded them with sugary water. If the rats appeared to be getting stressed out, Toth says he was quick to take them off the ball and play with them instead.
After Carmack, Romero, and Tom were used to navigating the game, Toth introduced them to Doom’s iconic shotgun. While he initially planned to teach the rats to bite a tube to shoot, he discovered teaching them to do a rearing motion–while more complicated–was more effective. After slaying a demon, Toth then rewarded the rats with grapes, bananas, and other sweet treats, incentivizing the creatures to hunt down and slay the monsters.
At this point, the three rats have a general understanding of how to play Doom, and react appropriately to new obstacles and environmental changes. While this might sound like a whole lot of work for the rodents, Toth says he believes the little guys are enjoying the process. According to Toth, rats are “very curious beings and keen to discover what’s going on.”
“If a task is complicated enough,” Toth says. “The rats start to enjoy it–at least that’s my own hypothesis.”
According to Toth, the next step in the process is teaching the rats how to change weapons and “why they would need to for different situations.” However, he says he is currently unsure if introducing that mechanic would overwhelm them. Rest assured you won’t be facing off against the three rodents in Fortnite anytime soon, but who knows what the future holds.