He built a VR rig from scratch and taught three Long-Evans rats, named after Doom creators John Romero, John Carmack, and Tom Hall, to cross a corridor using the Doom II engine.
The corridor in the rat version of Doom II is straight, and on the path of the rats, in addition to the doors, there is only a harmless imp that only blocks the way. The test subjects are required to shoot the enemy.
The Thoth installation includes a polystyrene ball equipped with sensors, on which a rat is fixed, and a monitor with a game. The system records the actions and, in the event of the correct actions (running forward, shooting), feeds sweet water through the tube.
To fire a shot, the rat must raise the body. Due to time constraints, Thoth was unable to enforce this behavior. The developer believes he would have had more success if he had implemented nose-poke shooting.
Indeed, the rats played Doom or just ran around the ball for the sake of awards, the question is open, but He is happy with the experiment: “I had fun building a VR rig to train the rodents how to play Doom.”…
He added that he financed his project on his own: he paid for the rats, the rent of the laboratory and the installation with his own money. The latter cost the enthusiast less than $ 2 thousand against $ 70 thousand for similar commercial samples.