T2B: Tale of Two Boyfriends 2.0

The live version can be accessed here.

T2B: A tale of two boyfriends is based on Janet Murray’s proposed schema for generating variation in computer-based narratives. Murray divides male characters into Boyfriends of ObliGation (BOGs) and Boyfriends of Desire (BODs) and privileges female agency within the classic western narrative format of a romantic triangle between one woman and two men.

Using this T2B platform, authors can define a BOG and a BOD character based on multiple variants. The system then generates a set of possible plot events, similar to the events in Vladimir Propp’s classic abstraction of fairytales.

To start with, the interactors set up the characteristics for each male character. We provide a list of attributes in four categories, including authority, potency, patriarchal privilege and attachment. We divide the attributes into positive and negative qualities and restrict the number they can pick in each category, to maximize dramatic contrast.

The system uses these attributes to generate possible plot events within a 5 act story framework. In the opening situation, the interactors set up the initial relationship status with the two boyfriends. In the disruption stage, interactors need to decide why BOD is driving the female protagonist to break the obligation with BOG. In the crisis stage, there should be some reasons that might make female protagonist reconsider her desire for the BOD and her sense of obligation to BOG. Then the interactors will decide whom they want the female protagonist to end up with. Finally, the system will automatically generate the happy or unhappy ending based on the positive emotions associated with both boyfriends.

During the process, the interactors can explore the variants which can influence the parameters. In this way, they can have a better understanding of the structure behind one of the most enduring and constantly evolving western plot patterns. 

Designed by: Ricky Yu

This is the 2.0 version of this project based on Lyric Liu’s first iteration. The first version can be accessed here.


Murray, Janet H. “A Tale of Two Boyfriends: A Literary Abstraction Strategy for Creating Meaningful Character Variation” In Interactive Digital Narrative: History, Theory and Practice edited by Gabriele Ferri Hartmut Koenitz, Tonguc Ibrahim Sezen, Digdem Sezen: Routledge, 2014.

Propp, Vladimir. Morphology of the Folktale. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1928. Reprint, 1968.