PROVO Brigham Young University student Charan Prabhakar doesn't just read the Book of Mormon he plays it.
Prabhakar, 24, is the creative mind behind BoMToons, a Web site designed to help people see the scripture stories of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a new and different way.
"We wanted to do something kind of fun that's going to make people happy, but at the same time (they can) learn different things," Prabhakar said.
The site, www.bomtoons.com, offers mini-videos and quirky video games that allow Prabhakar and some friends to combine their technological and artistic skills with their love of the LDS scriptures.
They started with a three-part cartoon series explaining the story of Nephi, one of the first people referenced in the Book of Mormon, and his quest to obtain a record of his ancestors from a local leader.
Then the group moved to games, such as the "Korihor Game," which shows what happened to a character from the Book of Mormon who was trampled by a mob. Another game, "Baptism Racer," has the user a person who is joining the LDS Church racing in a car to the church in time for their baptism.
The games play off the LDS culture and are meant as light-hearted entertainment not intended to be sacrilegious in any way, Prabhakar said.
"We don't want to do that, that's not our purpose," he said. "There are certain stories we avoid because they're of a much more spiritual nature."
Prabhakar said he believes there are many great lessons to be learned from the scriptures and some of those have humorous sides.
"We look at the fun aspects of the scriptures," he said. "We don't want to take things lightly but (we want to) have a light-hearted attitude."
In addition to Prabhakar, the BoMToons group includes Nick Pasto, a BYU graduate who studied art education and the one responsible for the visual construction for the site, and Jonathan Chan who studied computer science and English at the Y. and keeps the programming running correctly.
But Prabhakar, a convert to the LDS faith, is the real inspiration, Pasto said.
"Charan, he's kind of a spiritual compass to us," Pasto said. "He's always got the spiritual side in any conversation, he's really interested in the scriptures."
Prabhakar was born in India, but his family moved to Provo when he was a baby. He later attended Timpview High School and joined the church at age 17. While on an LDS mission in Australia he served with Chan, who later introduced him to Pasto.
As former roommates at BYU, Chan and Pasto had always talked about creating video games together, so with the addition of Prabhakar, an aspiring actor who did all voice acting, the three found an outlet for their passions.Comment on this story
"Each of us has our own strong points and talents, so it's been fun to do this," Prabhakar said.
The group brainstorms together, coming up with new angles on scripture stories, then begins designing.
"It's kind of our Sunday project," Pasto said. The three usually spend about three hours on the weekend coming up with new ideas and new mini-games, which they try to update weekly.
"(We use) BoMToons as an outlet for our creativity," Pasto said. "It's not for profit, so we can still feel good about working on it on Sundays."
The Web site first took off in January