Researchers develop violent video games for fish

There can't possibly be anything more boring than life as a captive fish. Even if you have a sweet pad, the amount of stuff that you can spend your six seconds worth of brain power on is limited. In the interest of improving life for our finned friends (or something) researchers have now crafted video games for them. Violent ones.

It's possible, albeit unlikely, that these video games are actually for research and not just for piscene entertainment, but we'll let it slide. The idea, apparently, is that icthyologists have been trying for a long, long time to figure out why it is that fish like to swim around in schools: we're pretty sure that it's because it helps fish avoid being eaten by bigger fish, but the why part, and how such behavior evolved in the first place, isn't well understood. This video game for fish, designed by Professor Iain Couzin at Princeton, is really a sophisticated simulation to study how bluegill sunfish react to small colored dots representing prey:

With this simulator, the icthyologists can tweak the ways in which the dots move through three separate traits: the tendency to be attracted to, swim in the same direction as, or ignore nearby individual dots. Systematically varying these traits will change the behavior of the virtual prey group as a whole, which is just the type of thing that is impossible to do with real fish out in that big blue place where all the real fish live.

Here are some results from what is quite possibly the world's first immersive video game for fish:

"&the researchers found that simulated prey that formed groups "survived" better than those that swam alone. But individuals in groups also needed to strike a balance of closeness and coordinated movement to keep the bluegills at bay, the researchers report.

Large groups that did not move much eventually fell victim to attacks in "high-risk" areas of the projected space in which bluegills preferentially attacked. Yet when groups of prey moved with coordination, they passed through these high-risk areas too quickly for each individual bluegill to make its attack."

Next, the researchers plan to give the bluegills access to railguns and plasma rifles and other upgrades to see how it effects their killing efficiency.*

Princeton, via Futurity

*Of course they don't plan to do this. Geez.

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