Neopets was apparently run by Scientologists, and what is this life?

If you came of age in the early 2000s, then you might be familiar with a little (highly addictive) online game site known as Neopets. For those too young to remember (bless your hearts), Neopets was an online game/community/world-unto-itself in which you “adopted” a fantastical creature in a land called “Neopia” and “raised” it into adulthood. But in order to feed/provide for your Neopet, you had to earn money (aka, “Neopoints”) by completing random tasks and quests within Neopia. You might have to locate a magical scroll in a foreign realm, or…to be honest, we’re having trouble remembering exactly what else. We’re old now. But the more quests you went on, the more Neopoints you got, and the healthier/more special your Neopet became.

Essentially, it was a virtual-pet-meets-open-world-video-game concept, and it was cool AF.

But um, we just discovered something majorly disturbing about our favorite cyber game of yore. Apparently it was partially modeled after the Church of Scientology.

Now to be fair, the initial concept had nothing to do with the controversial religion. But according to a piece in The Outline, Neopet’s then-CEO Doug Dohring not only used Scientology’s infamous business model, but actively attempted to bring elements of Scientology into the user experience. However, Neopet creators Donna Williams and Adam Powell allegedly fought any and all attempts to bring the religion onto the site. If anything, it sounds more like the behind-the-scenes business decisions were more affected by the Scientology connection than anything…or at least we’re hoping.

The site (which still exists today) was sold to Viacom in 2005, and presumably that was the end of the Scientology-meets-Neopets era. But the initial connection was apparently very real. And if all of this just makes you want to sign back onto Neopets and check out your marketplace, we won’t judge you. Because hey — even Chrissy Teigen is back on the site.

Some truths really are stranger than fiction.