Emotions, Opposites, and Dyads

Teilhard’s Agents explores the emotional underpinnings of politics. In the game, you can alter the emotions of entire cultural groups, thereby changing their stance on issues like abortion, taxation, capital punishment, and so on. But before we can explain how that works, we need to explain how we define emotions.

We started with the Robert Plutchik’s emotion wheel model, but felt it needed some minor edits to fit into the game we’re designing. Thus, we have eight primary emotions arranged in opposing pairs:

  • Happiness vs. Sadness
  • Trust vs. Disgust
  • Fear vs. Anger
  • Surprise vs. Anticipation

(Using Fear and Anger as opposites might not make sense at first, but think of their extremes: Terror and Rage. Someone who is terrified will avoid the scary thing at all costs, whereas someone who is raging will likely attack the angering thing.)

These emotions are primary, meaning they are deep and strong. However, there are also emotion dyads: blending of two emotions. As with the primary emotions, they are put in opposing pairs:

  • Love (Happiness + Trust) vs. Hate (Sadness + Disgust)
  • Respect (Trust + Fear) vs. Contempt (Disgust + Anger)
  • Passiveness (Fear + Surprise) vs. Aggressiveness (Anger + Anticipation)
  • Pessimism (Surprise + Sadness) vs. Optimism (Anticipation + Happiness)

The idea behind all of this is to quantify and define “emotions”. Everyone knows what emotions are, but because we are using this as a variable in the game’s mechanics, we need to define what is and what is not included. Now we have a list of 16 defined emotions (primary and dyad) to use when building personas/shadows for characters. We also need them for the epirroi – the emotion creatures that inhabit the noosphere.

More on that soon.

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