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What Does Vanilla Mean in Gaming?

If you’re a gamer, you’ve probably heard the term “vanilla” pop up here and there. But what does vanilla mean in gaming? That’s exactly what we’re going to shed light on in this guide. So, let’s get right into it!

Short Answer

Basically, vanilla in gaming refers to the original release of a particular game without any add-ons or expansion packs. In other words, if a game made its debut in October 2020 with version 1.0, then that version is what gamers would call “vanilla release”.

Also, a game that gets new updates and add-ons every year would be quite different from its original release. Everything could change, including gameplay, characters, and plot. Such a version of the game would be called the “modified” or “upgraded” release.

Where Did the Term “Vanilla” Come From?

Vanilla, as you might’ve guessed, comes from ice cream. It’s because ice cream is usually served with a vanilla base. Then, toppings are added to give it its flavor.

A classic example of using vanilla in another context is IBM’s mainframe text publishing system, BookMaster, which integrates a basic or “vanilla” version where only specific parts of a book are published.

It’s also worth noting that, since many gamers prefer the original releases of their favorite games, using the word “vanilla” to refer to them could just be out of their love of ice cream. Yup, many gamers love their favorite games as much as they love ice cream.

Others Uses of the Term “Vanilla”

Vanilla isn’t used in gaming only. It’s also used in software and coding to refer to the unadulterated version of a software release.

For instance, if a smartphone runs on Google’s version of the Android operating system, then we can say it’s running on “Vanilla Android”. Alternatively, Samsung phones, for example, run on a modified version of Android with Samsung’s One UI skin on top of it.

Also, the term “vanilla” may be used in hardware to refer to non-upgraded computers and PC components.

What Is a Vanilla Gamer?

The term “vanilla gamer” might be used to refer to someone who only plays old games. These gamers aren’t always interested in playing the latest and greatest AAA gaming titles. Instead, they still play the classic titles from their childhood, even if it means restarting the games all over again multiple times. Some vanilla gamers even play retro games.

Additionally, the term might refer to gamers who only play “generic” games that almost everyone plays. Not to mention, a vanilla gamer could be someone who plays original games without any mods or add-ons.

Final Words

To recap, vanilla in gaming simply means that this is the original release of a game without any extras, add-ons, or expansion packs. And it doesn’t always have to be a game; every unmodified piece of software can be called vanilla. So, vanilla gamers are those who play the original versions of games or old games and childhood classics.

Xander (Editor-in-Chief)
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