Virtual pets starve after bungled resolution to Second Life's "unauthorized food" war

Wagner James Au sez, "Meeroos, an extremely popular species of virtual, breedable animal in Second Life, are now starving, because griefers have been selling their owners unauthorized food, and Linden Lab accidentally shut them down *and* their legitimate food supplier. The creatures don't starve to death if their owners fail to feed them -- after awhile, they're just programmed to abandon their owners, presumably to find food. Linden Lab is finally addressing the issue, but Meeroos' creators say the world is still 'flooded with unauthorized food.'"
Meeroos, SL's extremely popular species of virtual, breedable animals created by Malevay Studios, are currently starving. Yesterday, reports Malevay's Catherine Farspire, unidentified griefers using variations of the avatar name "Meeroos Resident" (the company's official account) were found selling unauthorized Meeroos food in the region of Twas. (The miscreants, says Ms. Farspire, "built their own [store] in the sky selling fraudulent food".) As a result, she reports, Linden Lab has closed down the region of Twas -- and also blocked "Meeroos Resident", the legitimate Malevay Studios account: "We believe the account was blocked by Linden Lab by mistake, given all the reported accounts were variations of the same name, or the account was mistakenly reported by residents meaning to abuse report the offending avatars. We simply cannot be sure. Unfortunately, this has dealt us a crippling blow at the worst time possible."
Meeroos Starving Due to SL Griefers Selling Fraudulent Food & Linden Lab Closing Their Legitimate Food Source (UPDATE: Meeroos Account Reopened, But SL Still "Flooded With Unauthorized Food") (Thanks, James!)


    1. “do Second Life”?  That’s rich.  I’ve been in since 2006 and SL continues to rock in terms of providing such a wonderful environment for creative skills such as programming, artwork, building as well as establishing communities and exploring one’s dreamy interests.  It’s heyday was when I joined.  Probably tops at 70K concurrent users daily these days.

      It is bar-none the best, globally accessible “virtual reality” on the planet. Nothing comes close.  But generally speaking most people don’t get it.

      Funny I haven’t heard about Meeroos though. Griefers gonna grief.

  1. I was jumped by a pack of feral Meerøøs.

    A Meerøø bite can be quite nasti.
    My sister was bitten by a Meerøø.
    It was no laughing matter.

    1. Meeroo are script operated creations which are programmed to eat at regular intervals. This affects their stats, including hunger and comfort levels. After 3 days of no food available the Meeroos are programmed to run away to the wild. That much is true. People who sell fake food sell items that LOOK like meeroo food but are not scripted accurately or else have no script that works with the Meeroo. So while you may have the fake food available, it is of NO benefit to the Meeroo pet and its status will continue to decline. That is what its’ meant by it. Its a breedable pet game people play in Second Life. Some griefers had placed vendors that were invisible prims over legitimate vendors to intercept the payments – thus they were stealing money from customers who were trying to purchase the food for their meeroos. This was reported to the owners of Second Life (Linden Labs) who have since took actions to help combat this griefer attack.

    2. Think of it as a game token.

      Basically people are selling ‘faked’ game tokens. To play the ‘Meeroo’
      game you’ve got to keep feeding in the game tokens – like an old arcade
      game. The fake tokens won’t work. The ‘machine’ (a Meeroo virtual pet)
      won’t recognize them and therefore won’t accept them.

      But the human players of the game can be tricked into buying the fake
      game tokens if they’re sold in ‘packaging’ by ‘accounts’ that look like
      the real authorized people.

      Real Life example: Imagine going to a car dealership named ‘F0rd Motorz’
      and buying a brand new car, only to get inside and realize it had no

      Or better, you go to a She11 Gas’ station, and end up filling your
      engine with water that’s been mixed with a gas-smelling perfume.

      – Your car would not drive too well after that.

      Inside a virtual world like Second Life, you can set up a fake shop with
      the click of a mouse, and get rid of it just as fast, logging out and
      taking your money with you before the customer knows they bought
      ‘scented water’. So what you’re really seeing here is a test of whether
      or not Second Life’s anti-hacking security measures will be good enough
      to stop and catch these folks in such an ‘instant’ environment.

    1. Really? Nothing about Apple in this article and you inject some random Apple hate?

      IFoods is an abandoned trademark (circa 2007) from IFood Studios.

      IFood Assistant is a live trademark of Kraft for “Downloadable mobile phone software and digital applications for accessing recipe, food, and nutrition information.” First use 2008-12-01.

      1. Interesting you infer it as hate (pretty strong emotional word for something that was purely a throwaway joke without malice). I mean seriously, pulling up trademark records? Says more about your view of Apple than mine. :)

        1. Nintendo-hate or Sony-hate would have been equally inappropriate here. You’re the one who chose Apple.

          But, yeah, seriously, I pulled up the trademark records. I did the research that you did not do. It turns out Kraft is who you should have made fun of… for something they actually did rather than something you imagine they might do.

          But it’s all a big joke. Can’t shake the devil’s hand and say you’re only kidding.

  2. Meroos will starve if you try to feed them unauthorized food, but will eventually go feral in order to – what? Get a part time job so they can purchase authorized food from the official Malevay Labs account?

  3. The NYTs front page had a picture of a real staving human being yesterday. Thanks for putting it in perspective.

    1. Thank for reading. I wanted to point out about my comment that it was meant to be:
      10% Liberal Snark
      65% Wry Observation
      35% Needed Relief – the world is messy place and articles like this help relieve pressure. 

      I wasn’t trying to make anyone feel bad about how they view second life vs starving people and I wasn’t trying to criticize BB for posting it. We are complex beings and we have brains big enough to experience multiple points of view at the same time. OK? Thanks.

  4. I’m just not getting this. 

    How is the food “bogus”?  Can the meeroos not eat it?  Does it give them diarrhea? 

    If the only thing that makes it “bogus” is that it doesn’t earn money for Malevay labs, how does this make the people selling it “griefers”?  Isn’t that just what the various companies do that sell razor blades that work with Gillette ™ brand razors?

    1. I don’t know for sure but I suspect that the meeroos won’t eat the food and they are just selling something that looks like food. If they will in fact eat the food that means that the creators of the bogus food stole the proprietary scripts that were inside the real food. 

  5. Stop giving Monsanto ideas!!! After they make genetic food, which is their IP property, Imagine if they can go after you for having “Pirate Food”

    1. Pretty soon, we’re going to have to read and acknowledge user agreements for the food items we buy.  Life is about to get really inconvenient.

  6. If anything, are Malevay labs the real griefers in all this?  I know, let’s give away adorable little critters that people will form emotional attachments to, and make them only capable of eating food that we monopolize.  Then if people stop giving us money, they little critters will starve, grow rail-thin, look into their owners’ eyes pathetically, and finally abandon them…

    1. yeah except they don’t “give them away” and it’s clearly explained that you have to buy food, and they don’t change appearance at all when they are starving, and there are mechanisms in place to get them back after they have starved. Other than that… you hit the nail on the head! LOL

    2. Meeroos are purchased in the Malevay store in the form of a nest which one coaxes to be come a ‘live’ pet. They certainly are not giving them away. Your information is inaccurate.

  7. I always hated the pay-for-food breedable pets. I actually was in development of a pet a year and change ago that wouldn’t to that, that Meeroos look a damn sight like. I should have been more careful with my beta testing . Though this fiasco makes me want to go back and redevelop

  8. It blows me away how important this is to the community of SLers and how completely unimportant this is to the *real* world – where *real* people and *real* animals starve every single day.  Not to diss Second Life – it is as one mentioned the best in VR – but really….how utterly bizarre.

    1. This article was extremely inflammatory – and purposely so and did not actually even include the whole truth of the scenario that has transpired. It’s a game yes. But some of the players who were cheating and hacking to get ahead got busted and banned. In turn they started griefing the content creators and other players. Basically extortion. Considering people put money in the game to buy these creatures its no different than if someone came by and egged a bass boat, slashed a tire or poured sugar in your gas tank. It’s harrasment at minimal but has crossed the line and could actually be considered cyber terrorism at this point. Its not about starving meeroos. Its about people hacking and harassing and stopping people from doing business online.

      1. ‘cyber terrorism’?


        I think you need to get out more. If anything is ‘inflammatory’ throwing around accusations of terrorism is… it devalues real incidents of terrorism and their real world victims.

        1. ‘cyber terrorism’?  Seriously

          Well, if your whole existence is in Second Life, you’re going to have an…..unusual perspective on reality.

  9. This story makes me feel better about how I waste my own time.

    And Eli, you’re right that anyone with half a brain could tell the difference, but no one with half a brain plays Second Life. ;)

      1. While I understand the popular and well-supported belief that all people must play either Second Life or Farmville, I am one of the statistically negligible few who plays neither.   However clearly if you keep guessing at things I might do you’ll come across some complete waste of time in which I engage – perhaps arguing in comments sections? – thereby proving without a doubt that Second Life is a great use of time for intelligent people.

        1. I have a friend who used to bombard me with book recommendations. I was between books a few months back and called her for some ideas.

          “I don’t read anymore. I’m too busy with Second Life. I have to go now.”

  10. “Griefers”?!  It’s a game!  Puh-lease… I salute the griefers!  All the problems we have in the real world, all the real life to live, and this…

    1. In the a-a-arms o-o-of the angel / fly awa-a-ay from here….

      “Hi, I’m Sarah McLachlan.  Right now, thousands of Meeroos are going without food… and without love…”

  11. This illustrates one of the primary reasons why I eventually quit second life: real life IP laws are not so great, but in second life they are evil. You think not at first, because you can create whatever, right?
    But then you buy a cute little pet that you need to buy food for, and think “I just bought this piece of code, why can’t I just have it interact with code I’ve created myself? I’m not reverse engineering, or stealing proprietary code from the vendor…” Turns out, you can’t do that because Linden Labs (the company that owns second life) says so.

  12. reading this article makes me happy i never ventured into second life since find it interesting fans and players of the game are upset over animals that are just computer generated images of the game starving because some one is making fake food and the original real suppliers have without meaning to cut themselves off from the game when odds are the player can just restart and recreate the animal .

    1. I’m sure that it would be possible to stick a giant phallus on one of them if needed, as is the case with anything else in Second Life.  :)

  13. actually, not everyone in SL is upset about this. there are some of us who have been planning a Meeroo BBQ for this coming saturday and if the Meeroos are leaving their owners looking for real food, then we should be able to catch a bunch of them.  hope this puts things in perspective for you.

  14. Linden Labs has over the years developed a hard-earned reputation as some sort of 100% employment scheme for clumsy tech industry employees.

    Can’t meet Yahoo’s tepid standards? LL’s got you covered.

  15. Feh…frankly the humans panic too easy….no food? no problem!

    I just called Pizza Express, ordered a million pizzas and billed Linden Lab for the hassle…

  16. Someone has to drink from the tainted kool-aide it seems.
    Congratulations, did you buy a new pair of sneakers for the next comet as well?

  17. So virtual pets are virtually starving from being virtually fed virtually fake virtual food in a virtual world. Can I virtually give a virtually flying virtual fuck?

  18. Second Life? If you are suffering deep worries about your digital pet starving to death over a botched game world economy it’s time to work on your FIRST LIFE.

  19. Hard to imagine anything more inconsequential.

    Still, it’s pretty interesting.  There’s a weird little eco-system there, affected by inside forces (griefers and monsanto-like cyber-agri-business and consumerism) and outside forces (developers, business arrangements).  Things like this happen in real life as well, usually when humans introduce an invasive species to a closed eco-system.  One day a boatload of humans show up, and next thing you know there are 5,000 reindeer.  And the thing you know after that is that there are six reindeer and no lichen.  Or is it lichens?  Lichenoi…

    But I digress.

  20. I think it’s irresponsible to express contempt for the unreality of the crisis when a little creativity could offer an ill-conceived solution to exacerbate it.

    I recommend introducing an invasive species with a voracious appetite for unauthorized food.  Preferably, they would look something like Vickangaroo’s cute bunnies, except that, proportional to their food consumption, they eventually grow to a virtual 1.3 meters tall.

  21. RSN you will be able to download which has bittorrent built in. you don’t need to feed them, only let them borrow your laptop sometimes. shortly afterward you can also watch porn together.

  22. NOTE your information in this article is not completely accurate. ALL meeroos are not starving, were not starving. Only the meeroos of people who had failed to have food available in sufficient qualities. Meeroos can go 3 days without food before they run away to the wild. Considering that many were reporting they had meeroos running away when this issue was one day old tells me that they had not had food available for their meeroos at the time this griefing attack happened. None of my meeroos starved or ran away. Linden labs quickly restored the primary account of the Malevay avatar that was responsible for the vending machines. It was people using alts with similiar names to defraud the public which placed fake food vendors in the store using a exploit. Both Linden and Malevay have been wonderful in their efforts to combat, fix, and restore service to the Meeroo community. Perhaps you should check your source for a more fair and unbiased information. Linden was not at fault. Malevay was not at fault. Some people who hacked and griefed are the criminals here those folks should be the focus.

  23. The article is an exaggeration of what really happened with the Meeroos, and I’d be interested to see where the author got his/her “facts.” As soon as the problems were discovered, Malevay Studios began working with Linden Lab to get their food products up on the SL Marketplace so that people can have an online place to purchase food where they can be sure to be getting the food that is properly scripted to work with the Meeroos.

    Haha, I will admit that I play Second Life…I’ll even admit that I have Meeroos. The game (virtual world?) is a nice way to blow off some steam after a long day at work, not to mention it’s an avenue for my creative mind (artistically). I also sometimes play World of Warcraft, Rift, Left 4 Dead 2, Minecraft, and several other games.

    The reason this situation is an issue is that people are spending real money to buy the food for their Meeroos…and someone put an invisible “box” over the food vendors to essentially steal that money, while the customers received NOTHING (no, there is no “unauthorized food” that I’m aware of).

    I’ll also tell you…someone paid me 35,000 Lindens (Second Life currency) a few weeks back for a Meeroo I “bred” with a “rare” coat. That’s US$140. A friend sold another for 55,000 Lindens (approximately US$200). I know of another person who paid 345,000 Lindens for another “rare” coated Meeroo. That’s US$1,400. Crazy, right? Maybe. But if someone will pay me US$140 for a virtual pet? I’ll take it!!! LOL! Hell, I only pay $12/year to play.

    Comparing SL to real life is just stupid. What difference does it make to any of you if someone is playing a video game, watching a movie, reading a book, attending a play, painting, playing piano – or any number of other pastimes for their own entertainment??

  24. It’s just a matter of time before the technology is perfected so this can be done with human food. Pirates who grow their own food at home will find themselves locked out of important social functions, and only name brand food will actually sustain fully sanctioned life.

    1. In a way it has.  Do you know if you’re a farmer and buy certain patented strains of seed from a company like Monsanto, you are in violation of the law if you save the seeds from your own crops to plant the following year? They actually have inspectors that drive around with genetic test kits checking.

  25. it devalues real incidents of terrorism and their real world victims

    That’s how I feel about people using the word “piracy” to describe illicit copying.  But it turns out that nobody else cares.

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