The Butterfly Lovers opera is based off Legend of Liang Zhu, first appearing during the Jin Dynasty 1600 years ago. The legend follows a woman named Zhu Yingtai who must disguise herself as a man in order to pursue her studies in Hangzhou. There, she meets and befriends fellow classmate Liang Shanbo. Over three years, Zhu Yingtai falls in love with Liang Shanbo while he is unaware of her true identity. After dropping numerous hints that Liang Shanbo fails to recognize, Zhu Yingtai leaves for home. Later, he is made aware of her identity and goes to the Zhu family to propose. However, her father has already betrothed her to Ma Wencai, the son of Governor of Shangyu. Liang Shanbo is so overcome with grief that he dies of depression and desperation. Filled with sadness, Zhu Yingtai headed for Liang Shanbo’s tomb on her wedding day. As she grieved, it winded and rained, with thunder flashing in the sky. After a while, the tomb blew out and Zhu Yingtai jumped into it. Later on, the lovers turned into a pair of colored butterflies and flew wing to wing in rainbowed sky.


Butterfly Lovers is a two-player role-playing game where one player plays in the Virtual Reality (VR) environment and another player is equipped with a tablet that employs the Augmented Reality (AR) technology. Players work cooperatively to complete series of tasks in order to help a couple of desperate lovers to get married. The player in the VR environment has an age-related disability, which requires both players to improve their communication skills and work patiently together to solve the game “puzzle”. In our current prototype, the player in the VR environment suffers from an intermittent hand tremor, which results in some difficulty with grabbing items, as well as in dropping things.


In Butterfly Lovers, players are thrown back to the ancient China, put in the role of a strict father and his brave daughter. The father is of royal descent and he and his daughter are searching for proof of lineage which will make the daughter rich and allow her to marry her true love, the scholar.  The scholar is trying to help them find the proof through his research.

Game Content

To find the bowls, the VR person has clues from his memory as to where the bowls are- the VR environment is hazy and the person needs to look around to find the clues, which are in the form of letters from the scholar.  The AR person can help to “clear away” the haze, making the VR person’s memories clearer- the AR person has to explore the environment, and as they do the VR person’s experience becomes less hazy (presumably because the AR person is reminding them of artifacts from their childhood that they see in the museum- maybe there are pop-ups to explain the significance of each item to the person in VR).  Perhaps they do this together, walking around both of their environments while holding hands- OR the VR person stays still while the person in AR wanders around.  Then, the person in AR has to find the bowls, but the person in VR isn’t seeing what the person in AR sees.  Then, when AR finds the bowls, they have to place them in a particular spot so that they appear in the virtual environment.  The person in VR then has to stack them and then a clue will appear about where their final destination is. The person in VR then has to bring them to their final location without dropping them. The final location should reveal the item that they’re looking for, both in AR and VR.

Target Players

Open to all audiences. A future version will target older adults with compromised sensory abilities and cognition and one teenager or caregiver.