Virtual pets have been popular ever since the first Tamagotchi was released in 1997. In 1999, two British students created a virtual pet Web site called Neopets. Combining people's love for taking care of fictional critters with the enjoyment of puzzle games, Neopets grew rapidly. With the games and characters carefully interwoven with marketing campaigns and advertisements, the site was also able to turn a profit early in its existence.
However, Neopets is not without its opponents. Since the site's inception, critics have been concerned about marketing methods that could be harmful to children. Others fear the Scientologist background of the company's CEO proves the site is an attempt to get children into the Church of Scientology.
In this article, we'll peek behind the scenes at the creators and owners of Neopets, and explore the controversies that surround the site.