Creative coincidences

Have you ever noticed that sometimes similar but unrelated things happen at the same time?

Armageddon (1998 film)

Armageddon (1998 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For example Armageddon and Deep Impact are both movies about an asteroid heading for Earth, and they both came out in the same year.  The Illusionist and The Prestige are both movies about magicians and they came out in the same year.  Antz and A Bug’s Life – animated movies about insects – same year.  Mission to Mars and Red Planet – movies about Mars – same year.  Dante’s Peak and Volcano – volcanoes – same year.

Maybe those aren’t good examples because it’s possible that one studio found out what the other studio was working on and decided to compete head-to-head with a similar movie.  I don’t know why they would choose to do that, but it’s possible.

Perhaps a better example would be that there are at least three indie games (FTL, Star Command and Starship Corporation) being built at the same time that have very similar setting and mechanics.  They’re all games where you design your spaceship and manage your crew while you fly around encountering various aliens and environmental threats.  All three have also done Kickstarter-style funding drives.  Did they inspire one another?  Did they all have some other common inspiration?1  Maybe it’s zeitgeist.

They’re so similar, it just seemed strange to me.

If we asked the creators, I bet they’d all say that they just happened to come up with the same thing at the same time.  Life’s weird sometimes.

Outside of the entertainment arena, the radio (and a lot of other things) were invented simultaneously and separately by different scientists (apparently this is called multiple discovery), so maybe these are just ideas whose time have come.

I often find that no sooner have I written down a great new idea than I find out about a movie or book or game that has done the same thing (only better).  It’s discouraging, but I don’t seem to be the only one with this problem.

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  1. Star Trek? []