Neopets, the popular online virtual pet-adoption and game site, employed business practices connected to the Church of Scientology, according to a recent report.
I’ll allow you to take a second to see if you remember your old login and password for your Neopets account. Things haven’t changed much there! (P.S. Your Neopet was sad and lonely, so it was adopted. I hope you’re happy!)
The Outline revealed that former Neopets’s CEO and investor, Doug Dohring, was a Scientologist who used the so-called Org Board method.
The Org Board method is a business system that addresses “Communications, Dissemination (sales/marketing), Treasury, Production, Qualifications (quality control), Public (public relations), and, most important to the system, Executive”. The full course outline is only available to those who attend the in-person sessions, but it seems like a lot of directives to me for a simple children’s game!
While most business have a set of practices to follow, Patricia Illingworth, a professor at Northeastern University, said that the entire business model was “morally problematic. She went on to say that “the idea that an organization should fire employees for having views that are different from those of the organization is morally disconcerting even when we don’t share the views, or we are adamantly against them.”
Reportedly, Neopet’s founders were against teaming up the company with Scientology. Co-creator Donna Williams said in a Reddit AMA that the company “hired this lady who wanted to bring Scientology onto the site.” Williams said she “fought that as hard as we could and they got rid of her.”
However, their efforts proved to be fruitless. Williams stated that about 6 months after a round of new hires, she discovered that they “were all Scientologists.”
“When we realized it was a bit of a shock,” she said. “Somewhat awkward moment when you realize you started the biggest entertainment site visited by millions of children and teens, but the upper management you just signed the company over to are part of some weird religion that is banned in some countries.”
Neopets, if you can believe it, is still one of the highest visited role playing game sites on the Internet, with a majority of its users under the age of 17. But after this report, I’m guessing that Tom Cruise is also a big fan!
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