Princeton University develops videogames for fish

The King of Cod: A Finfull of Corals.

Researchers at Princeton University have created videogames to study the behaviour of fish.

By projecting red dots into the tank of the predatory bluegill sunfish, researchers are able to study how the they'll swim after their prey, the BBC reports.

The team discovered that the bluegill sunfish were less likely to attack the dots when they were grouped together.

"By creating immersive video game for the fish we were able to have complete control over the parameters," said Dr Iain Couzin, senior researcher at Princeton University's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

"Trying to do this experiment with natural grouping prey items, it would have been impossible to understand or control what was going on."

The researchers went to great effort to conceal the dots' true identity. "An undergraduate student worked the entire summer on the exact type of dot to use. We tested out a whole range of different types of dots," said Couzin. "We knew they liked to target slightly red objects, we knew the speed of their natural prey... As far as we know the fish were not aware that (our graphics) were just little dots."

Couzin explained that it was important that the dots' AI didn't become too predictable, else the fish would catch on to their patterns, just as we do in our games.

"In any computer game if you have one type of enemy it's easy to learn," said Couzin. "It would be fascinating to understand whether the fish learned to play the game better over time."

Next on the docket, Couzin and his team will bolster the simulation into "a fully 3D virtual world to these organisms."

"We're developing an automating tracking system so we can track the position of their eyes and reconstruct a virtual world of prey items, using conventional projectors," he explained.

Now what I want to know is whether the fish will become competitive and try to beat each others' high scores.

This is metal... for fish!

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