When science started exploring the aspects of arcanotechnology and biofeedback it was a wondrous time of daring experiments and horrible failures. Many people were scarred for life. Others developed emotional and psychological disorders from exposure to the machines and the feedback systems. More exotic cases developed extensive and unheard of forms of synesthesia. One of the first stable forms of tech developed from this line of experimentation was the Emote Cube.
The Emote Cube is a cube of glass, plastic and other materials roughly 3 inches across. Each side is divided into 9 segments and it can rotate through these faces presenting 6 solid faces, or six faces that are a mix of different colors. The panels are typically electrosensitive and handling the cube is enough to activate it's biofeedback system.
Unlike the traditional Rubik's cube, the final goal isn't to complete all six sides, rather it is to complete just one side. Each of the six sides of the cube is associated with a certain type/feed of biofeedback and the process of handling the cube causes the mind to focus on that stream of information and once the face is fully complete, there is an emotional 'apex' and then the handler enters a short passive/receptive/recovery phase.
The Type 6 Emote Cube
The Rage side of the cube represents through pulsing red panels, and as the handler comes closer and closer to completing the side, their body experiencing an elevation of stress hormones, adrenal excretions and other chemicals and reactions associated with extreme anger and hostility. The apex is a cathartic explosion of rage.
The Grief side of the cube represents through pale purple panels and as the handler solves for that side of the cube, they are filled with mounting negative emotions. By the time they complete the grief side of the cube they are overcome with weeping and sobbing. Once they complete the emotional cycle, they go through an emotional reset period. Grief cubes have been made and are used like prescription medication prescribed by psychoanalysts. A person who isn't able to bring themselves to proper mourning or grief over an incident can use this cube, with directed counselling to overcome the emotional dam.
The Sleep side of the cube represents through soft green panels and solving the side of the puzzle is difficult, because the longer the handler concentrates on solving it, the more and more sleepy they become. Sleep cubes do exist, but they are very rare, as the long term cost/profit of the cube versus prescription meds make the cube very non-profitable for pharmaceutical companies. Sleep cubes are used for dream immersion, and versions of hypnotherapy.
The Fear side of the cube represents through bright yellow panels and handling the puzzle as it is solved towards yellow causes a feeling of horror or dread in the handler. Anxiety and fear mount until the apex when the biofeedback system sparks a potent fight or flight reaction from the handler. Handling Fear Cubes is a matter of juvenile dares, thrill seekers who catabolize the emotion input into endorphin fear rushes, and there have been experiments with social conditioning, such as exposing child molesters to child pornography and the effects of a fear cube. Results have been... mixed.
The Arousal side of the cube represents through pulsing pink panels and it is one of the most popular aspects of the cube. As the handler solves for the pink side of the puzzle, they are systematically stimulated and aroused by the biofeedback, progressing through several stages of sexual excitement and tension, apexing rather predictably in orgasm. Pleasure Cubes are a very popular contraband item, as well as being a tool in diagnosing and treating sexual dysfunctions and neuroses.
The Happiness side of the cube represents through blue panels and as the puzzle is solved, the handler is slowly filled with a sense of emotional happiness and contentment. The blue panels are the least dramatic side of the cube, and perhaps the most addictive. Almost any sort of stress sends the owner rushing back to handle the blue side of the cube until they are again dopamined into contentment.
Emote Cube Addiction
As can be expected, the Emote Cube was very quickly addiction forming. With the near instant and unconditional emotional responses excited by the cube users found themselves increasingly at odds with social interation and unable to function normally or emotionally. The Rage and Fear cubes left users with damaged brain neurochemistry after excessive use. Unless directly stimulated by drugs, electro or arcano therapy or access to a cube they found themselves unable to feel anything. They had effectively burned their emotional capacity out. The Sleep and Happiness side users quickly withdrew from society because being unconscious and dopey contentment, the outside world didn't matter. Sleep side users found their ability to sleep without access to the cube severely compromised and developed psychological neuroses. Happiness side users emotionally reduced themselves to moronic children, as in their happiness induced state, their brainwave activity was largely depressed. Grief side users were found to be increasingly depressed, manic-depressive, or outright suicidal. The Arousal side users were the most visible in the public eye, as the initial uses of the cube involved duping people into playing with a pink cube in public, while filming the reaction. It was also prominent in several sexual predator/molestation cases where previously normal sexual people were pushed into sexual deviance by excessive use of a cube, and then once denied access to one, went looney and started seeking out higher and more profound sexual expressions.
Emote Cubes were banned less than 3 years after making their debut. The cube was cited with hundreds of cases of suicide, homicide, rape, and an untold number of people falling out of society because they didn't care about anything other than their emote cube.
The Emote Cube is an electronic drug, it's arcanotechnology core causing direct and measurable emotional and biological effects in the handler. It mixes the instant gratification response from smartphones and cellphones with the biochemical response of heroin or methamphetamine. There are other electronic drugs, like Shatner's Tek, or BTL chips from Shadowrun. These are both basically emotion replay systems where the 'user' relives a memory and then has to go buy more. The problem with this is that this is a matter of sentimentality and not a measure of addiction.
What do I know about addiction? A lot, actually. I used to smoke, and a large amount at that. It took me over the course of three years to stop smoking, and then it was a mix of self willpower and the emotion ultimatum delivered by my wife. Drug abuse and addiction isn't about how good it is when you have it, it's about how bad it is when you don't have it. The effects of the Emote Cube are impressive, instant sleep or orgasm puzzles. The real danger is that the level of the effect is high and the thing about addiction is that there is a matter of tolerance. Once you have a puzzle box that makes you pop like a fire hydrant, why are you ever going to go out to a bar, try to meet someone else, and then go through the trials and troubles that are a relationship. Go home, solve for happiness, solve for arousal, solve for sleep.
But once the cube is gone, you are left unable to feel happiness, nothing gets you off and insomnia appears because the little electric box has taken over your life. What will you pay for 15 minutes of bliss? What would you do for a night of perfect sleep when you haven't sleep right in weeks?
Addiction is hell.