The Google Maps division over at Google today announced a new Pokemon-branded mini-game that has come to the Google Maps app. The game challenges Google Maps users to explore the world and "catch" 150 different Pokemon scattered throughout the surface of the Earth.
In a post on the Google Maps blog, Google characterized master Pokemon trainers as having the same types of skills and dedication that it looks for in potential employees. The company is calling the new initiative the "Pokemon Challenge" and treating it as a recruiting tool for the Google Maps team. From the blog post:
We value employees who are risk-taking and detail-oriented, have deep technical knowledge, and can navigate through tall grass to capture wild creatures. It turns out that these skills have a lot in common with another profession—that of the Pokémon Master. With that in mind, we’ve worked with Pokémon and Nintendo to develop a new training tool to help people hone their Pokémon-capturing abilities using Google Maps.
To participate in the Pokemon Challenge players only need access to the Google Maps app for either iOS or Android. Once inside the app, tapping on the search bar and then on "start" will populate the app with Pokemon and begin the collecting game.
Google has also released a video explaining the new software and dramatizing some real-life Pokemon encounters throughout the world. It also indicates that players who collect all 150 Pokemon will be invited to Google headquarters to "participate in a final round of hiring." The winner of that round will apparently become a Google employee in September with the title of Pokemon Master.
Given the timing of the Pokemon Challenge announcement, it seems clear that the program is one of Google's elaborate yearly April Fools' Day jokes. Even so, the software is real, allowing Google Maps users to browse around and collect Pokemon. It also wouldn't be beyond reason that Google is serious about pitting dedicated players against each other for a chance at an honorary title at Google.