Emotion 17 is a plot for a modern game, or games foreshadowing apocalyptic events. It can be played from the beginning (where a PC could fall to it), during the infestation, or in its aftermath, pursuing renegade groups or loners and cleaning up the mess. It may be somewhat politically incorrect.
This was foretold for a long time.
It wasn’t even the most advanced chip on the market. "Improved Life 3000", cheap, but reliable, it was widespread as most couldn’t afford the better models.
Human upgrades are developed for a reason. Most were implanted into disabled people, to give a limited freedom of movement even to the completely paralyzed. But there is more: with additional sensors it made everyday navigation much easier, for the blind or anyone with an impaired vision. Some have used them to open doors at home and things like that. That wasn’t new. The problem was in the communication interface. They say now it was broken from the start. But it was worse… it was only unused. The thought was to improve navigation by registering specific targets, using a protocol the manufacturer was trying to push as a standard. It failed and the communication system was left behind.
The chip accepted certain commands from the owner and could be trained, with strict security measures. Of course it was hacked.
Whatever you have heard of the incident, don’t believe in secret military research or a lone genius. It was the large modding community, there was no bad intent. For a long time could anyone with the sensors activated ‘feel’, when someone with the same chip was around, an old bug of the original software. The first mod was a simple Ping, the poking-your-shoulder signal popular among the teenagers. Then came the more advanced tools.
The first real exposure to the subculture was during the Paralympics. A football team was charged with cheating in the game: a software upgrade increased their teamwork by magnitudes, the players always knew where their team members were. After a few scandals and lawsuits, coordination enhancements were forbidden in team sports.
It was the other modders that are to blame, they found a way to share emotions. For what are emotions, if not states of the neural system spiced with hormones? They could be recorded with the chip and replayed again, with the right upgrades. A new market arose for emotions, and fell as everyone acquired the basic emotions sooner or later. By the time the first scientific articles on the new addiction appeared, the fad was already disappearing. A few searched for more.
So what is Emotion 17?
‘17’ is a purely arbitrary number, probably one of a batch of random feelings. See, they could be transferred from one chip to another, but their analysis was never conclusive. It is the human component, you could say, that gives meaning to the packet representing an emotion. Trying to ‘adjust’ it produces random results, it is more a checksum than the data itself. Many have experimented with such random feelings.
What it feels like… cannot be described. All agree that it is not an intense or blinding feeling. The affected can interact and work with others normally, their higher cognitive functions stay intact.
"It is being content, I’d say. You won’t even feel it at first, but it will come to you and embrace you and you will find your place. It won’t knock you off your feet and leave hallucinating. No, it is the feeling of a good day, when you are doing your job and it feels right. You know those days, there are not many."
- one of the early descriptions
Emotion 17 is extremely addictive. The victims claim to be happy, seek to have good relationships with others and have a good work performance. There are no side effects, they say.
It started to get ugly when the addicts formed groups. They could reflect upon each other their own impressions of Emotion 17, it was even more liberating. Why wouldn’t they share it with others? Some claimed it is the feeling of social harmony, that was never felt in its purest form. It deserves to be spread. If people knew it, there would be less conflicts, the world a much better place!
The Emotion spread like wildfire in the sharing groups and crept out beyond them. Anyone with the chip, disabled or a hobbyist, could and most often would fall to the incredible power and peace of the Seventeen.
It is sometimes forgotten the disabled are inclined to depressions. Those, that know, tend to overdo their care and become annoying, the constant celebrating by the media doesn’t help. But it is there. For the first time, many had the chance to overcome it, get out of their dreary lives and do something for humanity: spread the Emotion. It took the first violent incidents to get the police involved. It seemed like an obscure legal issue without any precedents, political correctness choked down most of the reporting. It would take years to sort it out, experts agreed.
Then, one of the radical groups developed Chip Seventeen. It was a very simplified version, but if placed correctly on the back of a person, or close to other major nerves, it would connect with the neural system, deliver to it the Emotion and open it to other signals.
Large groups of friendly, smiling, disabled people started to converge upon lonely victims. They would knock them out with tasers or just hold down, then embed the Chip. When they woke up, they were already half lost.
"It is all fine. Can you feel it? We are all brothers and sisters now. Your life is worth living again."
- leader of a mob to a fresh convert
Some have taken over a small chip factory and started to produce tens of thousands of chips. It wasn’t just the disabled anymore, anyone, sick or healthy, could be one of the ‘Smiling Zombies’ as the media called them. Anyone, even those you know and love, could be waiting on the right moment to give you a chip that will take your free will and turn you into one of them. Their permanent happiness took over several small towns. Then the military stepped in. Thousands had to die, many were driven to insanity after their chips were removed. Many more suffer the withdrawal symptoms. That was the end… we hope.