Neopets Reportedly Ran By Controversial Religious Order ‘Scientology’
The late 90s and early 2000s of the internet are nostalgically remembered by many, especially in the world of browser games. Before the dawn of the social media sites we know today, large browser games like Webkins and Millsberry gave kids in this era an outlet to play fun games while also learning the very basics of web-based communication. One browser game that reigned supreme for many was Neopets, which first launched in 1999 and still maintains a passionate community to this day. However, word has now broken that browser game Neopets may have actually had a strong influence behind the scenes from controversial religion Scientology.
A new report disclosed by The Outline has detailed the findings about browser game Neopets and its co-founders Adam Powell and Donna Williams. According to the report, for at least five years of the game’s existence, it used a controversial business structure crafted by The Church of Scientology. Org Board is a business model created by Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, and supposedly at one point before the company’s acquisition by Viacom the Neopets CEO Doug Dohring used this model to run the business. Information about the model is only given to members of the church itself, but according to the report, the model consists of seven areas: Communications, Dissemination (sales/marketing), Treasury, Production, Qualifications (quality control), Public (public relations), and Executive.
oh my god neopets has not changed a bit. the omelette…is still cooking
— chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) April 19, 2018
The structure is not terribly different from other commonly used business models, but where this differs is its unethical application. As the report states about the model’s use of an Inspections and Reports division, “If someone in or outside the organization has done something that undercuts the mission of the organization, which is basically making money, then the organization, in the name of ethics, is advised to retaliate against the person in order to ensure that they don’t do it.”
According to the game’s founders, they were not aware of Dohring’s use of these policies, but they did make sure the religion was never presented to the game’s users. According to Wiliams, “At one time there was some talk about putting Scientology education on the site, but we killed that idea pretty sharpish. Adam and I made sure that it never made its way onto anything site related. Religion and politics were two big no nos for us as far as site content went.” This certainly sounds like a thorny issue that Neopets had to deal with, but it certainly seems like this messy period is indeed in the past.
Hopefully these sorts of practices did not happen elsewhere. It would be a shame to hear that ‘The Stonecutters’ controlled Webkins. What do you guys think about browser game Neopets being run by Scientology business practices? Let us know in the comments below!
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Cory Lara1755 Posts
A royally radical and totally tubular 90s kid, Cory has a passion for all things nerdy, particularly gaming and nostalgia. While an accountant by day, he strives to be as creative and humorous as possible in his free time, be it here writing on Don't Feed the Gamers, or making dumb satirical posts on his Twitter, Youtube, Facebook and Instagram accounts.