I’m “Secret Partner 1”, the designer at Mindcake. I’d like to start the blog with a post about how we got started and what we believe in.

The seed for Mindcake began almost 20 years ago, when my uncle gave me Koei’s “Uncharted Waters: New Horizons” as a gift. It was a sailing game set during the Age of Discovery. Players could travel the world in search of exotic wonders, or engage in piracy and trade.

Sailing the world in Uncharted Waters: New Horizons!

Sailing the world in Uncharted Waters: New Horizons!

I loved the discovery aspect most of all. I remember being floored when I took my humble Caravela Latina to the Philippine archipelago, and “discovered” the tree snake and durian. Not that I didn’t know what they were – nay! It was actually the familiarity which surprised me. Here I was playing a Japanese game, about exploration during 15th century Europe, and they were showing me things in my backyard. I felt acknowledged, validated, strangely comforted.

Of course I loved the “exotic” stuff as well. I learned how influential the Ottoman Empire was… or how gold in Veracruz or porcelain in Seville could be exchanged for silver in Nagasaki. I learned about Venetian Galleasses, Carracks and Naos (they’re all ships by the way!).

Over the next many years, I gained a deeper appreciation for history, socio-anthropology, travel and cultural diversity. I would lap up my history lectures. My reading list would cover books like “Jewels: A Secret History” by Victoria Finlay, or “Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance – and Why They Fall” by Amy Chua. (OK, sometimes they had debatable conclusions, especially Amy Chua – but I read them for fun and new insights!) Who would have thought that my appreciation for social sciences and the liberal arts would be sparked by a video game?

There would be more. “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” and Sid Meier’s Civilization series are also excellent examples of games with deep, addictive gameplay (“one more turn…”), sprinkled with a dash of “informative exploration”. As some die-hard fans may know, these games are very different. Civilization was about strategic empire-building. New Horizons was an open-world RPG. And Carmen Sandiego had a straightforward “jump to the next city” mystery theme. The latter’s gameplay was actually pretty linear – the player ticked tasks off a notepad, received clues, figured out the next location, and identified the culprit along the way. But it was never shallow. The game dished out neat geographical tidbits and made me live for those moments when I finally got my arrest warrant!

Carmen Sandiego! Hunting the criminal in Berlin.

Carmen Sandiego! Hunting the criminal in Berlin.

Whether hardcore or casual, these games all piqued the player’s curiosity about the world. They showcased wonders, let you visit exotic locales, meet interesting characters, and learn about cultures and ideologies. They were awesome!

This is the same philosophy behind Mindcake. We want to make world discovery fun. And we’re starting with food! Because – honestly – who doesn’t love food?

Food is an amazing vehicle for showcasing local culture. You can learn so much about a region’s landscape, about how people have shaped or responded to historical forces, or even how a specific culture perceives concepts like family, beauty, celebration, faith, and togetherness – by how they cook and eat.

We really hope Mindcake’s games inspire a future generation of curious players. We want folks to appreciate how beautiful our world is and how our differences reveal a common humanity.