Blogger Chris Ainsworth tried to get his pet pigeon, Brisby, to play the popular iPhone music game, Tap Tap Revolution, a version of Dance Dance Revolution for your fingers. Unfortunately, Brisby wasn’t very good, leading Chris to conclude that pigeons suck at video games. But with the proper operant conditioning, the bird could probably be a killer Tap Tap player.
The pigeons were trained to peck at an image of the target in the middle of a screen. If the missile wandered off course, the image of the target would wander out of the crosshairs. But when the pigeons pecked the screen to center the target, the missile would correct its flight.
Skinner’s Pigeon Project was judged impractical, but not the pigeons’ pecking skills. The birds performed well, pecking at the target up to 10,000 times in 45 minutes.