Today I read on Polygon that the Aquarium of the Pacific in the U.S. started to use iPad games as a form of enrichment for their Magellanic penguins. In an interview with Cool Hunting, Aviculturist Sara Mandel explains how she originally got an iPad game for her cats, and decided to try it out on the penguins too. To her surprise they found it interesting and different penguins from the group started to interact with it. For some of the penguins, interacting with the iPad became part of their daily enrichment routine. By taking part in the interaction as human being as well, Sara Mandel found new ways to check upon the penguin’s physical and mental well-being while they interact with the game.
I think it would be great to see game developments that are specifically focused on these type of animals. Rather than interactions that are originally designed for cats, the design for penguins could open up for many different opportunities that might be even better suitable for penguins in captivity. It would be interesting to try out under-water interactions, bigger touch screens, multi-player games (for penguin-penguin or penguin-human interaction), and games with objects that are already familiar to the penguins. By looking at the Magellanic penguins’ natural curiosity and playful behaviour a hole new range of interaction design could become possible.