I’m going to do something a little bit different here. I’m going to review a game.
Heard of it?
I hadn’t until last week.
Randonautica is billed as a “choose your own adventure reality game.” It’s an app that you can download for free onto your phone that generates random GPS coordinates in response to your “intention”, or what you want to find. The idea is that you think about something you want to find, and the app will randomly generate a location for you to plug into your GPS and have an adventure. It’s like one big random scavenger hunt where you may or may not find something interesting. Sounds like fun, right?
Well, I’ve heard the hype. After some digging, I’ve come across hundreds of YouTube videos posted in just the last couple of months claiming to have found some strange things. Some people have searched for “creepy” and found pentagrams spray painted on trees. Some people have searched for color and found a field of wildflowers. Most notably, some people have found human remains in a suitcase (I’m sure you guys have heard about that one.)
Color me intrigued, but how does it work? I tried to find neutral information on how the app was developed and how it really works. The only information of interest was the Randonautica website itself, which states:
“Randonauting is the act of using the Randonautica app to generate truly random locations sourced with quantum entropy. The user can then choose to venture to these locations to see what they find. They often discover that what they see lines up with their intention, which is what they were thinking about when they generated the point. But even if this doesn’t happen, it’s a way to mindfully explore the world around them.”
Okay. I can dig it. But what is quantum entropy?
Quantum Entropy: A measure of distinguishability between two quantum states.
Mm. Yup. Cleared it up.
All right. Still doesn’t answer my question. Can this app read your mind? If so, how? Or is it literally just giving the player a random set of coordinates and you hope for the best?
There’s no way to really know unless you try it, so try it I did.
I downloaded the Randonautica app. I opened it and set it up. I was ready to go.
My first intention was “something creepy” (I am a horror writer, after all). It generated a location that was 15 minutes away from my house. My initial thought was, “Lame! I’ve been all through that area and have never seen anything that would fit the ‘creepy’ vibe.” But I got into my car and drove out to the address given on the GPS.
Everything was familiar to me until I turned down a gravel road that ran behind an abandoned horse racetrack. I knew this road was here, but had no idea that it went back behind the racetrack as far as it appeared to. One point for Randonautica.
I was still four minutes from my destination. The road curved toward the highway that was about a mile to the east of where I was. I thought for sure it was taking me to a dead end with nothing to look at. The road sure did take me to a dead end, but at the end of the road was an old, burned out barn. I parked the car and got out, staring at the shell of the building. There was no house, no farm. Just a shell of a barn. I was surprised. Two points for Randonautica.
As I explored the building, I noticed there were rusted farm tools inside. I didn’t go in (I didn’t think it was safe and I was alone), but you could see most what was left of the interior. The isolated location and the state of the building did send a shiver down my spine. Three points for Randonautica.
Okay. So, Randonautica won this round. Encouraged, I thought of another intention. I wanted to be specific this time. I wanted to test this thing out. To make it harder for the app, I didn’t speak my intention out loud this time. My second intention was “ice cream.”
The app generated a location that was five minutes up the highway from the burned out barn I was currently parked in front of. By the look of the map on the GPS, I knew it was a Shell gas station. I drove there anyway.
Sure enough, I parked at the Shell gas station and the GPS said that I had arrived at my destination. I scoffed. I had beaten the game. One point for Liz. Zero for Randonautica.
As I was patting myself on the back (literally because I’m dumb like that), a thought entered my brain cells. Gas stations sell ice cream. Damn. One point for Randonautica. Zero for Liz.
I don’t know what to make of this app right now. My first exploration took me to a creepy place when I wanted to find something creepy, but the creepier exploration, to me, was the gas station. I never said “ice cream” out loud. I figured the app could be listening and generating locations based on what was said. That would make sense. But I never said it. It didn’t even occur to me that ice cream is sold at gas stations until I arrived at my location. The experience made me sit in my car for a few moments, stupified.
This may be an ongoing series on this blog. I am more intrigued now than I was when I had heard all the stories surrounding the app. I still have questions; The main one being, “How does it know?” I’m going to dive deep into this. This is my new pet project. I want to figure out how this app works.
If anyone else has used this app and has an experience they would like to share, I would love to hear it. Please post it in the comments below or email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are two main parts to Randonauting: exploring blind-spots, or places nearby that are outside of your conscious awareness, and experimenting with mind-matter interaction, the hypothesis that consciousness can influence the distribution of random numbers.