Hollywood is doing its best to be a trendsetter, but like at Free guy, sometimes movies miss the boat altogether.
Free guy was released by Disney last Friday and directed by Shawn Levy (Real steel) and plays Ryan Reynolds as “Guy,” a non-playable character who lives in the fictional world of Free City. While the movie tries very hard to be relevant and timely – it references popular franchises like Grand Theft Auto and features cameos from famous streamers like Imane “Pokimane” Anys and Seán “Jacksepticeye” McLoughlin – it falls behind with a specific reference to games: its title.
As it turns out, the title of the film itself is a reference to gamer slang that is no longer actually used, or anything that is more familiar. The term “Free Guy” means an extra life or a one-up.
Polygon reached out to a few people who were familiar with the term, and all of them said they remembered it was used to refer to “an extra life.” Matt Helgeson, former writer of Game Informer magazine, told Polygon on Twitter that he “has heard and used it many times in the past. […] but not for many years. ”He remembers using it in the days of the NES, SNES, and Sega Genesis.
William Garcia, a fan of retro games, told Polygon he believed he heard the phrase in the ’90s. He told Polygon of Discord, “It was basically a life in a game (usually a game like Mario or Sonic, but I think probably Pac Man or something like that where you see a number or otherwise count the number of lives left can). . “
As new games come out, new ways of interacting with them become increasingly popular, and new memes and terminology can evolve quickly. See for example the adoption of the phrase “sussy baka” – an indication of a cheater in the Mafia game Between us and the Japanese word for idiot – this has been part of the vernacular of fans since the comedic TikToks and Memes made it popular. Or the growing importance of terms like the “metaverse” – what were used more and more often to describe games like Fourteen days or games on Roblox last year.
So it’s no wonder that with the years it can take to make a film, References can be a little out of date, regardless of how current the references were at the time.