Dating world maps
All this is part of a Google’s April Fools’ legacy dating to 2000, when a new “feature” called Mental Plex claimed to let the search engine read your mind (which probably sounded less creepy back then).
Just three weeks ago, Nintendo’s always-adventuring Mario drove his go-kart into the app to mark his own holiday, Mar10 Day.Waldo, British illustrator Martin Handford’s bestriped, bespectacled globetrotter, is the most natural possible candidate to add to that mix this side of Carmen Sandiego.And for the next few days, there he is in the desktop, Android, and i OS versions of Maps.The Waldo game isn’t just Greenwald and Thakore’s first contribution to Google’s April Fools’ tradition; it’s among their first Google projects, period.Both are fresh out of school and in their first year at the company.That too is part of its attempt to make the game as broadly engaging as possible, so it speaks to both “a casual user who wants five seconds of quick delight and then moves on and power users who really get into it,” says Thakore.
Like many tech-company April Fools’ stunts, Google Maps’ game is popping up well before it’s April 1 in Silicon Valley, a development that I always thought was prompted by their creators simply wanting to get a jump on the most joke-intense 24 hours of year. Google timed its launch so that Waldo would show up when the earliest time zones clicked into April Fools’ Day, and didn’t think it made sense to try to hold him back on a region-by-region basis.
He’s inside the app so–this probably won’t come as a complete shock–you can find him, in a game featuring scenes adapted from Handford’s book artwork.
Waldo’s friends Wenda, Woof, and Wizard Whitebeard have also made the trek, along with his doppelgänger/nemesis Odlaw.
The scenes in question would repurpose existing art, but the two Googlers wanted to make sure they were culturally relevant for as many users as possible.
They also had to lend themselves to a game that involved tapping on a screen, without being too easy or too hard.
And as much as Google cares about April Fools’ Day, it isn’t anybody’s day job or most essential responsibility.