Our forum host recently had an exchange with a panelist which made me think about the words we use.
Though I was born in California, I moved from New Jersey to Oregon (where I still reside) toward the end of 5th grade circa 1991. This gave me a bit of insight in dialects of American English as when I started first grade in New Jersey, I was told by the kids that I had an accent. Which is true. When I moved to Oregon, I was told by the kids that I had an accent, though if anything, I suspect that I actually maintained my NorCal dialect since that’s where I learned to speak. As an aside, my parents claim that my brother who is 3.5 years my Jr. and learned to speak mostly in New Jersey sounded like a kid Tony Soprano. Unfortunately, he lost his Jersey accent over the last 35 years which is a shame.
So I’m starting to make new friends and there are several regional word choice differences that are indicators that you Aren’t From Around Here. A big one was my use of the word “soda” to describe fizzy sugar water. The locals used “pop” which I still thing sounds somehow quaint to me.
Terms of Art whether for a profession or a hobby are hyper-specific and crafted to be extremely precise. These came up constantly in developing my new friendships with fellow game-likers in the neighborhood. Remember that 1991 was pre-world-wide-web. There weren’t yet different communities of kids on AOL bumping into each other and sharing words.
“Free Guy” was absolutely a term in New Jersey for any kind of object that would increment the life counter by one. In Oregon we mostly used “extra life” or “1UP”. These terms are still in wide use.
I absolutely introduced the term “board” as a general description for “video game level” to my friends. They thought it was weird and it took me years to get it out of my vocabulary. A few years later, the word “board” would come up several times on Kris Kross’ album Totally Krossed Out.
Thirty years later, I no longer hear this term used except in specific reference to specific retro game especially single-screen games like, Pac-Man or Donkey Kong.
“Power up” or “invincibility” seemed to be used by both communities and were pretty generic.
You could also get “the super” which seemed to be specific to an invincibility mechanic like the star in Super Mario Bros.
What regional words did your community use in the before days of our current internet games monoculture?