Zoos Victoria orangutan to get video games
Zoos Victoria orangutan will get to play with more video gamesGetty Images

Researchers are working on developing more video games for orangutans at Melbourne Zoo. In February 2016 orangutans at the zoo were given interactive video games– that uses Kinect 3D technology from Xbox One gaming console – to play with as a part of what is termed as the world's-first interactive enrichment programme.

The games were developed and trialed based on the response from orangutans. The pilot study ran for four continuous weeks, but researchers want to explore more ideas to understand how the animals take to the games.

Developers at the University of Melbourne's Microsoft Research Centre for Social Natural User Interfaces have teamed up with Zoos Victoria to come up with more games designed for orangutans. Marcus Carter, a research fellow from Social NUI said they found that the trial programme had left a positive impact on the orangutan as well as the visitors' perceptions.

"We're planning on running a longer study for a few months next year to explore more ideas and better understand how they take to the games over a longer period of time," Carter told ABC.

The researchers were quite surprised by the orangutans with the first game they played, wherein they were interacting with the projection on the floor and also with the light projected on their bodies. This is what led the team to develop a way so that orangutans can play while being inside their enclosure and with a person outside of it.

"We tried to not make assumptions about the ways they might want to use technology. We're really trying to learn from what they do," added Carter.

"We think of a projection as a 2D flat surface, but it's really a cone of light and to the orangutan — interacting up close to the projection or down on the floor — both are just as legitimate."

The researchers had noticed that visitors at the zoo had developed a bond with orangutans while watching them play video games. Sally Sherwen, animal welfare specialist at Zoos Victoria said that staff hoped the games would help conservation efforts. The team is currently developing a new audio game, where music will play when orangutans move a brightly coloured object inside their enclosure.