Seattle & Los Angeles, Aug 7, 2023 – Windup Minds, a pioneering virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) gaming studio, announced today the successful completion of its pre-seed funding round, raising an impressive $1.6 million. This significant capital injection sets the stage for the launch of an innovative virtual creature experience that promises to redefine how players interact with digital companions in the immersive world of XR (Extended Reality).
Windup Minds, a remote-first team founded in June 2023, boasts a roster of experienced industry veterans from renowned gaming platforms and studios such as Oculus, EA, WeVR, PopCap, Bungie, Magic Leap, Niantic, and more. Together, they have been behind influential VR experiences, including Dreamdeck, Toybox, First Steps, and TheBlu, and have played key roles in developing popular game franchises like Medal of Honor, Plants vs Zombies, Destiny, and Rock Band.
The upcoming virtual creature experience aims to leverage the latest insights into animal cognition, simulation, and emergent gameplay to create a unique medium where virtual companions genuinely feel real. The team draws inspiration from the profound emotional attachments people formed with past virtual creatures like the Tamagotchi and Sony AIBO robot dogs, proving that players can forge deep bonds, even love, with digital beings.
Bernard Yee, CEO of Windup Minds, explained the significance of their vision, stating, “Our relationship with dogs and cats is more than just a pastime—it’s part of the social evolution of human beings. We’re hardwired to play with and love them.” Building on the nostalgia of these early virtual creatures, Windup Minds is dedicated to pushing the boundaries of VR and MR to create companions as vibrant and three-dimensional as any real-life pet.
The team’s confidence in the power of XR is underscored by their previous experiences. When Windup Minds built Dreamdeck, an Oculus VR demo featuring a T-Rex encounter, players reacted instinctively, demonstrating the medium’s ability to evoke genuine emotional responses. XR enables the creation of characters that not only engage intellectually but also resonate deeply on an emotional level, something that no other medium can achieve.
The success of this venture has garnered support from prominent investors in the XR industry, including The Venture Reality Fund, Acequia Capital, New Leaf Ventures, and notable individuals such as Nate Mitchell (founder, Oculus), Eden Chen (founder, Pragma; Riot Games), James Gwertzman (founder, Playfab; PopCap/EA), Tom Sanocki (Oculus; Pixar), Greg Essig (Apple), and Anthony Batt (Outsider DAO).
Tipatat Chennavasin, co-founder and general partner at The Venture Reality Fund, the lead investor, expressed his excitement, stating, “We have been fans of Bernie and Ben’s amazing work in gaming and VR for years and truly excited with their vision of bringing the joy of pet companionship to VR and MR.”
Windup Minds’ CTO and Game Director, Ben Vance, echoed the sentiment, emphasizing the project’s transformative nature, saying, “This experience will be both familiar and completely new. We’re pushing on something fundamental and fantastic, and we’ve assembled the most incredible team to tackle this bold experience.”
With a mission to set a new standard for creature interaction in the virtual realm, Windup Minds is poised to revolutionize the way players engage with virtual companions. As the world awaits the unveiling of this groundbreaking project, the company’s website, WindupMinds.com, serves as a portal to the future of XR gaming and the evolution of virtual creatures.
*About Windup Minds*
Founded in June 2023 by industry veterans Bernard Yee, Ben Vance, Amy Conchie, and Stefani Swiatkowski, Windup Minds aims to redefine creature interaction in VR and MR. With talent drawn from iconic gaming franchises, the remote-first team is on a mission to create emotional connections with virtual companions that feel as real as any living pet.
*Visit Windup Minds at:* [WindupMinds.com](https://windupminds.com)