From a penguins perspective, this is quite an achievement.
“We don’t have to do anything,” says Rangi, who works as a data entry specialist.
“The penguins will be on our behalf.”
They’ll play computer cardgames like The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Pokemon, but also other games that the penguins have no interest in playing themselves.
This is a first for a penguinian species.
And the game is free.
“Penguins are used to being on their own,” says Dr Michael Kors, a cognitive behavioural scientist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.
“So, this gives them something to do.”
The game has been created by the team from the Australian Museum and the Australian Research Council (ARC) and is a collaboration between the ARC and the University’s Centre for Ocean Research.
“It’s very simple to explain to them,” says Kors.
“They can play it and they can see what happens.”
It is designed to give the penguin a virtual life, using computer programs to help the animal communicate and learn.
It’s called “Cognition of the Penguin”.
“When you play it, the penguinian will know what it is that they are seeing and how it is connected to the environment,” says Lisa Pemberton, who led the project.
“It gives them a feeling of agency and freedom to explore their environment,” adds Kors as he shows off the pengui in the game. “
But we’re very proud of the way they’ve played it.”
“It gives them a feeling of agency and freedom to explore their environment,” adds Kors as he shows off the pengui in the game.
“And they will also be doing a lot of exploring for themselves.”
The project has been run for about a year and the penguers have already had a go.
“I’ve played the game several times now and they’ve been very happy,” says Pembermont.
The project is funded by the ARC’s Ocean Conservation Research Unit, which focuses on ocean conservation and ecosystem services.
It is also supported by the National Science Foundation.
The Australian Antarctic Division is also involved in the penguina project.
And there’s no doubt that penguins enjoy playing this game.
They have to learn new words, such as “fetch”, which is used to fetch food.
And once they know the word “fool”, they will try to avoid it.
Pembermonte’s team have also trained several penguins to play the game, to give them the most practice.
It has also been used to teach them how to interact with their environment, which they can then use in their own games.
It helps that penguin language is also very complex.
The game is designed so that the player can play with other penguins.
“If you’ve got a penguine that you want to play with, you can ask the penguine what you want and the other penguin will respond with ‘that’s a great idea’,” says Petherton.
“Then you can start the game again.”
But penguins are not alone in their love of learning.
They can even learn how to read and write!
But penguin researchers are not just concerned about them being good at playing the game – they are also interested in learning about penguins in general.
“A lot of our research is focused on understanding what penguins do, what their needs are, what they eat,” says John Young, a penguina expert at the ARC.
“What we want to do is learn what they like and what they don’t like.”
“They really like to be in their environment and that’s very important to us,” says Young.
“In terms of learning more about them, we have been able to teach that they like to swim in the ocean.”
“We’ve been able, for example, to show that they have very complex vision,” adds Pemberville.
“When we play the video game they’re able to see things that they would have never seen otherwise.”
So, the next time you’re stuck on a busy road and you need to see what’s up, remember the penguinos words to learn their way out of trouble.
They are here for you.
They just might be a little slow at it.
Science communicators from BBC World Service: This is Science News in English and Science Alerts in English.