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When it comes to games like Don't Starve, Terraria and Skyrim, people can code their own mods, which I've had a shot at. And I've heard the term 'vanilla' used a lot when it comes to playing an unmodded game - but where did it originate? Who invented the term? Why is it specifically called Vanilla?

closed as off-topic by Frank, Wondercricket, Wrigglenite, Timmy Jim, Vemonus Dec 30 '17 at 16:17

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    As terms go, this one is very broad and general. I'm not even sure its gaming specific. – Frank Dec 30 '17 at 14:44
  • This is definitely not just a gaming term. Doing a google search on “What does vanilla mean in the context of ...” brings up multiple results – Wondercricket Dec 30 '17 at 14:50
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is not a gaming specific term. – Frank Dec 30 '17 at 14:56
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    Related: english.stackexchange.com/a/182668 – user101016 Dec 31 '17 at 20:26
  • Possible duplicate: What is Vanilla? – Twobe7 Jan 1 '18 at 0:22
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but where did it originate? Who invented the term?

The world may never know. As discussed in comments above, the term is not specific to video games - it has been around for ages. As far as when it was first used in relation to a video game, my guess would be shortly after they started making expansions to base games (early 90s, maybe?) Of course, I have no evidence to support that.

I do know, from my own life experience, that the term was in use for video games by the mid-90s at least.

Why is it specifically called Vanilla?

The word "vanilla" for this purpose is derived from ice cream flavours, where vanilla ice cream is generally thought of as the "plain" or "unflavoured" option. (A claim which can, of course, be disputed among ice cream enthusiasts, but that's beside the point.)

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    The use of vanilla to mean plain goes back further than ice cream. It gets slightly nsfw. – Studoku Dec 30 '17 at 19:53

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