It’s a Saturday afternoon, and I’m staring at someone’s barbecue grill. I didn’t intend or expect to spend my Saturday examining a stranger’s Char-Griller, but here I am, taking a picture of the grill while the presumptive owner asks me just what exactly I’m doing.
If I was being honest, I would tell him, “Sir, a smartphone app called Randonautica sent me here, to your grill, in order to figure out if this cooking instrument has some greater cosmic significance to me. You see,” I’d tell him, “this app randomly generates coordinates to check out, and then you go check them out. For whatever reason, this time, the app chose the exact location of your grill, and that’s why I’m taking a picture of your grill, trying to figure out exactly what the grill means to me.”
Instead, I waved my hand meekly and headed off to go visit my next randomly generated set of coordinates.
This is, more or less, the experience I’ve had over the past month using Randonautica, a smartphone app that bills itself as “the world’s first quantumly generated Choose Your Own Adventure reality game.”
Randonautica is the brainchild of Joshua Lengfelder, a first-time app developer and active Reddit user. (Multiple interview requests sent to Randonautica’s press contact were not returned.)
A little over a year ago, Lengfelder posted a Telegram-based chatbot he had developed to the r/DimensionJumping subreddit. The Fatum Project, he called it, was his attempt to “research unknown spaces outside predetermined probability-tunnels of the holistic world.” With the help of donations and community volunteers, Lengfelder released Randonautica, a standalone app for iOS and Android, in February.
The premise of the app is straightforward: You give Randonautica your location, and Randonautica uses a random number generator to find a random location. You head to that location, you see what you see, and you’re encouraged to share your experience on the Randonautica subreddit or on Twitter. And unlike other slick apps du jour, Randonautica looks and feels refreshingly home-brewed.