On January 11, 2005, the website www.bomtoons.com was launched (http://web.archive.org/web/*/bomtoons.com). The website was started by students at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah who said in a interview with BYU’s school news show that it was a way to get people engaged with Mormon scripture (http://www.bomtoons.com/playmgame.php?id=26). On the date of its launch, the site only contained three short flash cartoons depicting parts of the Book of Mormon. Since then, the site has grown to include a wide variety of media, all with the goal of getting people interested in Mormon scripture.
For its first nine months of operation the website was only three cartoons about Nephi’s attempts to get the brass tablets that are Mormon scripture for his father. The story is told in a humorous fashion in the cartoons, with characters making jokes, silly sound effects, and a little slapstick comedy. On October 26, 2005, the website would become a game suite, introducing nine new Book of Mormon inspired games to the website (http://web.archive.org/web/20051026002129/www.bomtoons.com/bookofmormoncartoons.html). Now, people could not only go to the website to watch cartoons based on the Book of Mormon; they could play games based on it too. The website would undergo minor changes for the next few years. It would finally take on the format and appearance that it has currently on October 25, 2009. At this point, the website had fourteen games up, plus other links to cartoons, news, a store, and to other game websites (http://web.archive.org/web/20091025021525/http://www.bomtoons.com/). The layout mentioned in the previous paragraph is the same layout that BoM Tooms has today. The “News” section is all about news concerning the site. This includes when new cartoons are coming out, when new games are coming out, previews, trailers, etc. The “Games” section is just that, it is the section of the website set aside for the Book of Mormon inspired games. These include fighting games, side-scrolling games, word searches, point-and-click adventures, etc. The variety of games available is impressive. The “Toons” section still includes the three original cartoons from the launch of the site, though new stuff has been added including a public service announcement encouraging parents to read Scripture. There is also now a “Co-op” section dedicated to games from other websites. Finally, there is the “Store” which contains two shirts, one of Nephi and one of Captain Moroni.
Listed on the right side of the website are the site’s friends. The first is called Book of Mormon Witness. This website offers visitors the opportunity to read statements by Mormon witnesses and also to order their own copy of the Book of Mormon (http://web.archive.org/web/20101210154803/http://bookofmormonwitness.com/). This site actually has its own link back to BoM Toons. Clearly, the two want visitors to either site to find the other. The second “friend” is Donny.com. This is Donny Osmond’s personal website. This link may seem unrelated at first, but Donny Osmond is a practicing Mormon and was raised in the Mormon Church (http://www.notablebiographies.com/supp/Supplement-Mi-So/Osmond-Donny-and-Marie.html). The third and final “friend” of the site is the More Good Foundation. The site defines itself as being “a non-profit organization that helps Mormons share their beliefs on the Internet so interested people can learn more about Mormonism” (http://www.moregoodfoundation.org/faq). Interestingly enough, there is a disclaimer at the bottom of the home page that makes it very clear that they are not affiliated with the official Church of Latter-Day Saints. They provide the official church’s website should the visitor desire more information.
So how do the games fit into the mission of getting people interested in Mormonism? They provide ways for people to engage with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in a fun, interesting way. A visitor may simply want to play the games. If, however, they want to go any further into Mormonism and are looking to talk to Mormons, BoM Toons has made that available to them through the “Friends” sidebar. A curious visitor can go to Book of Mormon Witness or to the More Good Foundation to learn about Mormonism more seriously. They have already been educated in some of the terminology used in Mormonism since all the games are based on actual stories from the Book of Mormon. There are also instances of Mormon customs being brought forth in the games. BoM Toons is also connected to a famous celebrity who is Mormon. In that way, they connect their religion to a name and a face that people recognize. All of this is accomplished simply by making some enjoyable games.