Game to turn pet hamsters into people-eaters

2019-03-02 12:10:05

By Lakshmi Sandhana (Image: Nanyang Technological University) (Image: Nanyang Technological University) A computer game that turns pet hamsters into virtual man-eaters could be the first in a new breed of games aimed at both people and their pets. “Mice Arena” is an augmented-reality computer game in which human players are pitted against a real, live hamster. The hamster is housed in a tank fitted with infra-red sensors that track its motion as it chases after a tasty piece of bait. Its movements are mimicked by monster hamster on a computer screen, which chases a virtual character representing a human opponent. The human player must manipulate the onscreen movements of the character to evade the hungry hamster. As they do so, actuators move the real bait around the tank to keep it away from the real rodent. The game ends when the human’s onscreen persona has been caught and eaten, or when they have survived for a set period of time. Mice Arena is being developed by researchers at the Emerging Art and Architecture Research Group and the Mixed Reality Lab at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), both in Singapore. They have created the software engine for the game and are currently developing actuators for the hamster tank. These will control the movement of the bait and also the shape of the tank’s floor, to match the game’s onscreen terrain. Adrian David Cheok, director of the Mixed Reality Lab, says the game should provide new ways for people to have fun with their pets, even when they are out of town. “This game will allow remote pet interaction,