What is Fish Life?

Fish Life (フィッシュ・ライフ in Japanese) is an all-in-one system developed by Sega comprising a base similar to a Dreamcast, a touch screen with a microphone and a series of five different programs in GD-ROM format (an optical disc very similar to a CD-ROM and unique to the Dreamcast). This system lets you bring fish to life and interact with them in a virtual environment. It was released in Japan on 20 June 2000 for 498,000 yen, equivalent to around 4,240 CHF at the time.

Sega Fish Life console and touch screen
Sega Fish Life console and touch screen[26]

With this system, you can interact with shoals of fish under the sea. There are two different software versions. The first is the Playful Edition, which offers two programs inviting the player to discover fish from the Red Sea and the Amazon River. The second is the Basic Edition, which is divided into three episodes, each offering different fish from all over the world.

Case and CD for Fish Life Episode 1 Basic Edition
Case and CD for Fish Life Episode 1 Basic Edition[97]
Cases for Red Sea and Amazon Playful Edition, @DCCOMP
Cases for Red Sea and Amazon Playful Edition, @DCCOMP

With no interaction, the fish swim around spontaneously and realistically, like a simple simulation[11]. Touch and voice commands can be used to interact with these peaceful creatures floating in the currents. Touching a fish displays information about the species, its habitat and behaviour, giving the Fish Life an educational aspect. In the same way, the system’s promotional material boasts about the inclusion of rare species not usually seen in real aquariums[10]. There are also other more fun ways of interacting with the fish. For example, drawing a fish with your finger makes it appear in the aquarium alongside its friends. You can also make food appear. Using the microphone, you can talk to the fish, feed them, make them dance, encourage them to go to the toilet, or make them react to certain emotions such as fear or boredom.

According to the promotional material, the combined use of a touch screen and voice recognition in a virtual aquarium was groundbreaking at the time[38]. With interactivity at its heart, the Fish Life aims to make the installation fun and educational, suitable for any audience and for children in particular, as well as those curious to know more about creatures beneath the waves. 🐟

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