If you’re like many gamers, you have spent countless hours playing your favorite console and PC games over the years. You do it because gaming is part of your lifestyle. It doesn’t matter you have to spend a few hundred dollars every month through in-game purchase. Gaming is part of you.
Unfortunately, online gaming carries a lot of security and privacy risks. Think of hackers, malware on torrent sites, ISP providers, advertisers and Internet spies. Some of them are malicious and won’t stop at nothing until they hack your sensitive data. Others, *advertisers* mean no harm besides annoying you with countless adverts.
A VPN can help solve these problems and many more. Here’s how.
1—Encrypting your Data
Virtual Private Networks encrypt your personal information into secure data packets as long as you keep your VPN turned on. The best VPNs use data encryption methods that can’t be hacked—like the 256-bit encryption system the US military uses to secure classified information.
Besides data encryption, VPNs also use secure data routing protocols to ensure your Internet traffic flows securely from your computer or iPhone to VPN servers and gaming platforms. Like encryption techniques, there are different data protocols:
Point to Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)—easy to setup
IPSec/L2TP—secures data to military standards but slow
OpenVPN—Offers a blend of top speed and incredible security
While finding a Virtual Private Network, ensure it uses one of the data tunneling protocols mentioned above, more so OpenVPN. Most clients offer all three options to let you choose a protocol that suits your needs. To expound more, you can choose PPTP when you need to browse fast and activate OpenVPN when security is a huge concern.
2—Speed up your Streams
Yeah, we know—VPNs can slow down your speed. But here’s the thing. ISP providers can throttle your traffic so much that you might think a game is broken. They gag gamers all the time as a way to stop them from using so much bandwidth.
VPNs can help solve this problem is hiding your IP address. You get a temporary IP address and your data is encrypted so that your ISP provider can’t easily recognize you determine how you’re using your bandwidth. The result is an ability to stream with great speeds.
In regards to VPNs and speed, the best clients have pretty fast uploads and downloads. Top-end companies support downloads of up to 80Mbps and uploads of above 50Mbps. Cheaper companies might not be as fast. But with downloads of 40Mbps and uploads of 20Mbps, you can still stream video games with zero buffering.
Although VPNs were designed for security, a recent study shows unblocking entertainment websites is the primary reason people buy VPNs. That’s alright. The best operators do a great job of unblocking entertainment sites like Netflix US, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, sports networks like ESPN and online casinos.
In the gaming space, a VPN can help you get new games before they are available in your country. Or you could access gaming platforms like Google Stadia and GEFORCE NOW, which are not available in every country.
Sometimes there gaming deals and contests available in specific regions. A VPN can help you participate in these contests and get the same deals they get even if you might be living thousands of miles away from them.
4—Avoid DDoS Issues
In 2019, the gaming industry was at the receiving end of 35.92% of DDoS attacks according to a study by imperva.com. For the uninitiated, DDoS means Distributed Denial of Service. Some people use DDoS software to overwhelm servers for malicious reasons—mainly to rig games and harm players’ experiences.
Although many DDoS attacks are aimed at groups of players, it’s not hard to be a victim. Attackers can easily identify your IP address if you play video games without a VPN. And they can overwhelm the servers you’re connected to, essentially kicking you out of a game.
As we mentioned earlier, a VPN masks your IP address. And in doing so, it makes it difficult for DDoS attackers to identify you. In many cases, a VPN is the only line of security you need to protect yourself against DDoS attacks. Many attackers thrive by identifying users’ IP address. If they don’t know yours, they can’t target you.
#5: Improve Performance in Multiplayer Games
Playing video games with players in different countries and continents is a lot of fun. But sometimes the experience can be frustrating. This could be because a game is broken or that you’re using different servers, which increases latency.
With a VPN setup, you can use a server located closest to your friends. And as a result, you can play with reduced ping time and improved performance. To be clear, your friends don’t have to be in different countries for you to benefit from a VPN.
They could be in a different city. And since they’re using a different server, it could affect your gaming experience. Using a VPN to get access to the same server can solve this problem.
#6: Protect your Family from Swatting
Swatting is a relatively new form of bullying common in the gaming world. Some malicious gamers track down an opponent’s home address and then alert local authorities that the person could be a terrorist or carrying out a hostage situation.
Although many instances of swatting are resolved amicably, some of them have resulted in avoidable deaths. In some cases, things don’t get that far but you could be stalked in real life. Fortunately, these are issues you can avoid by hiding your IP address.
#7: Stream using School WiFi
If your college is like many schools, it has restrictions on the campus WiFi network. You can use it to find educational content. But you probably can’t use it to stream video game content on Twitch and YouTube. This is something you can resolve easily through a VPN. And it’s a quick process that also ensures you browse the Internet safely.