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Celebrities get their chance to make 'Spore' creatures

EA's latest bid to build anticipation for its evolution game, which launches Sunday, puts the Creature Creator in the hand of dozens of "creative celebrities."

This 'Spore' creature, created by comic book legend Stan Lee, is one of dozens made by 'creative celebrities,' in a promotion the video game publisher announced Tuesday. Electronic Arts

It seems everyone is getting in on the Spore fun these days.

In less than a week, Electronic Arts' hotly anticipated evolution game will launch, most likely to large initial sales and significant excitement.

But since June, fans of the game--which was first announced and has been the talk of the video games industry since 2005--have been able to play with the Spore Creature Creator, a free, downloadable editor, that allows anyone to craft their own creature and upload it to what is known as Sporepedia, a vast, sharable, database of millions of other people's creations.

And on Tuesday, EA said that it had lured dozens of "creative celebrities" into making creatures, each of which is now viewable online in a bit of a fan-voting popularity contest.

This creature--and a couple of little versions of itself--is the most viewed of the dozens created in the promotion. It was made by online TV show personality Philip DeFranco. Electronic Arts

Among the well-known and maybe not quite so well-known among the group recruited by EA are Spider Man and X-Men co-creator Stan Lee; "I Kissed a Girl" pop star Katy Perry; Carlos Santana; baseball pitcher Curt Schilling; actor Elijah Wood; Digg founder Kevin Rose; TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington; Spore creator Will Wright himself; video game blog Kotaku editor Brian Crecente; film director David Lynch; Virgin Group mogul Richard Branson; celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse; Laughing Squid photographer and blogger Scott Beale; Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, and many others.

In each case, fans can see the celebrity's creation, how many times others have looked at it (on YouTube, where they can rate it), and how many people have "liked" it.

It seems that the various celebrities and their Spore creatures are sorted by the number of times people have viewed them, and it's not clear whether they were presented in this order or whether they self-sort by the number of times they've been looked at.

Another popular creature is this one, by video game blog Kotaku editor Brian Crecente. Electronic Arts

Either way, the most "liked," and viewed, creature is known as DeFranco, by Philip DeFranco, the host of the online hit, the Philip DeFranco Show. As of when I looked at it, it had gotten 134,961 views and 112,922 "likes."

It's hard to tell why that would be the case. His creature is very well conceived, to be sure, a refined red beast with a large mouth and intimidating horns.

But others on the list made very nice creatures as well. And certainly, you would think that someone like Stan Lee would get a ton of views, just because of who he is. Yet, Lee's creature, a tall, upright, drink of water with four arms and four legs got about a 10th the number of views as DeFranco's.

Rock star Carlos Santana got in on the act, as well, with this creature, called Batuka. Electronic Arts

And those at the bottom of the list--whether because people just weren't interested in their creations or perhaps because the interface for this project is a little bit unwieldy--got just hundreds of views.

Regardless, it's nice to see the participation by some of these very well-known and respected people. Some of them clearly put thought into their creations, and the results are often rather impressive. In each case--except for a few who didn't manage to finish their creations--they've presented a YouTube video of their work so that you can see not only what it looks like but also how it moves, and in many cases, what smaller versions of it look like.

Within days, the full game will be out and millions of new people will be exposed to Spore. Already, the game's ad campaign has gotten under way, with billboards on buildings, signs in bus stops, and even a full takeover of a Boston subway station.

And once the game actually launches? Let's just say it's impossible to know how far Spore-mania will go. But I'm betting it will be extreme.