Will 'LittleBigPlanet' inspire some creativity?

The biggest mystery among this fall's video games could be Sony's "LittleBigPlanet," a gorgeous PlayStation 3 title that combines running, jumping and puzzle-solving with a complete tool kit that allows you to assemble levels.

But once "LBP" is out there, will we see a flowering of player creativity? Or will most buyers pack it away once they've conquered the built-in levels?

Kareem Ettouney, co-founder of "LBP" developer Media Molecule, is confident that wannabe designers will take full advantage of the game's capabilities. In a prerelease experiment, Media Molecule invited students at New York's Parsons the New School of Design to spend 24 hours building original levels.

"We expected people to need our help," he said. "Instead, they were using our tools in ways we hadn't thought of."

The winning level, inspired by the PlayStation 2 classic "Shadow of the Colossus," required the game's hero, Sackboy, to climb a single, moving monster, dodging stomach acids, parasites and other disgusting internal obstacles.

Even if you're experienced with the level-building tools of other games, you might be surprised by the tactile look and feel of the objects in "LBP." You'll get your chance to push this ambitious game to the max when it comes out Oct. 21.

ESA gives out $1 million

The Entertainment Software Association has distributed $1 million in grants to nine organizations that are using technology in health, education and safety programs.

Interestingly, one of those groups is the Minneapolis-based National Institute on Media and the Family, which issues an annual report card on violence and sexual content in video games. The ESA Foundation specifically cited NIMF and another group, Web Wise Kids, for their efforts promoting Internet safety.

Other ESA-funded projects use interactive technology to teach kids about mental health, U.S. history, biology and the environment.

Game is on for Colbert

Is Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert the biggest game geek on mainstream TV? Guests on "The Colbert Report" have included "Spore" creator Will Wright and "Ultima" creator Richard Garriott, who's taking Colbert's DNA to the International Space Station.

Colbert has been most enthusiastic lately about MTV Games' "Rock Band," which makes for excellent corporate synergy; Comedy Central and MTV are part of the Viacom empire. In July, he got the members of Rush to perform their song "Tom Sawyer" on "Rock Band" instruments. Recently, MTV released a downloadable version of Colbert's 1980s synth-pop classic "Charlene (I'm Right Behind You)" that you can play on "Rock Band." It's hilarious, and it's free.

ASSOCIATED PRESS