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Summary:

It’s a Web 2.0 rule-of-thumb: Give users a chance to create content, and odds are pretty good they’ll start with sex. Last week I got a sneak peek of the standalone Creature Creator for Spore, Electronic Arts/Maxis’ long-anticipated upcoming computer game which not only encourages players […]

It’s a Web 2.0 rule-of-thumb: Give users a chance to create content, and odds are pretty good they’ll start with sex. Last week I got a sneak peek of the standalone Creature Creator for Spore, Electronic Arts/Maxis’ long-anticipated upcoming computer game which not only encourages players to construct and customize their own species for the simulated evolution game, but also upload videos of them in action directly to YouTube.

“You know the moment this goes live,” I told a Maxis staffer, “you’re gonna get swamped with videos of monsters with giant penises, right?” He laughed nervously and changed the subject.

The Creature Creator has only been available since June 17, and according to EA, 250,000+ creatures have already been made. But how many of them are, uh, well-endowed?

Judging by a quick glance through YouTube videos tagged “Spore,” sexual or otherwise obscene Creature videos (what Annalee Newitz cheekily dubbed “Sporn”) have already been seen 300,000+ times. The most popular, Spore Penis Monster, (link obviously NSFW) has nearly 200,000 views. (Making it even more popular than a demo video given by famed Spore lead creator Will Wright and musician Brian Eno!) Several are almost as popular (and just as NSFW), like this adorable caterpillar that’s somehow evolved into the F word, or this gloriously disturbing one that reminds me of something from Naked Lunch. A few of these have been flagged as Adult Only, but curiously, I’m not sure they even run afoul of YouTube’s community regulations, since “Sporn” doesn’t depict sex with humans.

What does Maxis think of all this juvenile creativity?

“Whether it’s modeling clay, dolls or crayons, a small number of people can be counted on to use it for something vulgar,” the game’s unflappable executive producer, Lucy Bradshaw, told me through a publicist. “Spore is a great creative tool with parental controls that allow users to flag objectionable content and keep it out of their game.”

As for me, I come to praise the penis, not to bury it. Cheesy as they are, these videos still promote the game, and contribute to a diverse ecology of user-created content. And by the time the actual game is released in September, most gamers will have gotten gratuitous phallus-building out of their system. That’s evolution in action for you.

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    [...] The online videos attempt to give you quick tastes of the storyline, as well as the game’s comic appeal. They also seem to be inspired by last year’s great World of Warcraft ad campaign featuring William Shatner, Mr. T, and other camp stars. In comparison to those, most of the Red Alert videos are just shrug-worthy. On the plus side, there’s Freudian psychosexual sass from Kelly Hu and John McCain-esque ranting from J.K. Simmons; gamers will giggle most at the in-joke reference to Grand Theft Auto and sandbox games. (And I can’t believe EA let the developers get away with this one, a reference to Sporn.) [...]

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