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Windup Minds Raises $1.6 Million To Make Virtual And Mixed Reality Pet Experiences More Realistic

The studio believes that XR is uniquely capable of building emotional connections with characters similar to actual pets

Virtual and Mixed reality game studio Windup Minds has raised $1.6 million after closing its pre-seed funding. The studio is focused on developing virtual creature experiences for mixed and virtual reality XR platforms. 

Windup Minds brings extensive experience in animal cognition, systems-oriented simulation, and emergent gameplay to a novel platform that brings authenticity to virtual companions.

The origins of virtual creatures can be traced back to the Tamagotchi, a basic 1-bit handheld electronic game. Even after a generation, the game’s impact remains, showcasing how players can develop profound emotional connections with digital creatures.

Windup Minds’ CEO Bernard Yee says, “Our relationship with dogs and cats is more than just a pastime – it’s part of the social evolution of human beings. If humans have domesticated wolves, it’s equally true that wolves have domesticated humans. We’re hardwired to play with, and love them.”

Creating realistic virtual pets

The studio says that modern game AI can engage and respond to players in ways that Tamagotchi never could and modern game engines can create more realistic and nuanced performances than some robot pets. 

“How does your cat or dog really see the world? We’re pushing on something fundamental and fantastic, and we’ve assembled the most incredible team to tackle this bold experience. We’re thrilled to reimagine this beloved genre with XR – where your imaginary friends can see you for the first time,” said Windup Minds CTO and game director Ben Vance.

The investment is led by The Venture Reality Fund, Acequia Capital, and New Leaf Ventures. Other contributors include 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; Wevr).

Written By

Isa Muhammad is a writer and video game journalist covering many aspects of entertainment media including the film industry. He's steadily writing his way to the sharp end of journalism and enjoys staying informed. If he's not reading, playing video games or catching up on his favourite TV series, then he's probably writing about them.

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