The best video games today, whether they are on a console or PC, definitely involve interacting with other players. The dynamic of online relationships and social interaction have taken gaming VPN to an entirely new level. However, all of those network connections also mean accessing the Internet and playing from a specific IP address. And that means an IP address can also be remotely accessed if it’s connected to an open channel to the Internet.
Everything is an Address
Most of what happens on the Internet involves knowing the destination address to send data packets to, whether they are providing information and data or requesting them. Without knowing the specific address, it’s a bit difficult to randomly tap into a node or network, but it’s very easy when the address is identified and targeted. It’s also very easy to overwhelm standard router security features that most people use for their home connections, including those for gaming PCs and consoles.
Why is your IP address being known as a security risk? Think of it this way, if you shoot an arrow in the forest it could go anywhere. You might hit a tree, a rock, a bush or it just disappears entirely. There’s no real way to know where it went. However, if you aim a bullseye in a clear field, you know exactly where that arrow went and its proximity to the target. The principles work in the IP world. And when someone knows your IP address, they also know where to send instructions and code to tweak, mess with and access your address node.
Another problem with a known IP address is that it can change the way networks interact with you. Your IP address gives a geographic location. Depending on where you are, that in turn can trigger restrictions or blocks as well as different specific versions of software interaction. Many companies running games have agreed to provide different versions of their game to be compatible with regional rules and laws of different countries. Your IP address when it is known becomes a barometer of what version of the game to provide to your access.
How VPN Comes Into Play
Virtual Private Network, or VPN, is a software technology that lets a computer continue to connect with the Internet as a dummy network on its own. Instead of broadcasting the specific IP address of the computer itself or gaming console, instead, the machine is hidden by the display of a dummy network identification, at least from the perspective of an outsider on the Internet looking at the traffic going back and forth. Because of that obscurity, an outsider cannot identify the specific IP address really being used or even know where the computer is geographically located.
Even more important, traffic sent back and forth via a VPN travels encrypted. It doesn’t use a special set of hieroglyphs, but to the viewer trying to read the traffic for tidbits, all they will see with a network sniffer tool is a bunch of gibberish. This is far more secure than a standard Internet connection where one can see both the packet information as well as any text being transmitted. Why would that matter? Think about in-game purchasing. When that purchase occurs in-game, one has to provide his account and password to initiate the purchase. Without encryption, that data is moving through the Internet as an open text. And anyone savvy enough to capture those packets can see the same information as well. But it’s not possible with a VPN. All they see is a bunch of symbols and widget shapes instead.
Other Benefits of Using a VPN While Gaming
The use of a gaming VPN is far more than just encryption. Other benefits include:
- Protection from being stalked,
- The ability to game and use public wi-fi routers without worry,
- You may find a VPN can get access to large organization ports that are normally blocked right away such as universities blocking gaming on their networks, and
- A VPN could give you the advantage to bypass geographical limitations otherwise applied due to your IP address world location because of different country protocols.
Stalking is probably one of the most annoying irritations with serious gaming. Someone gets upset that you won a tournament, so they begin to hassle you digitally in real life to get revenge. It’s doable because they found your IP address with the gaming connection. This sort of thing gets shut down though with a VPN. They might see a network, but the stalker won’t get your IP address or location.
And the ability to game where you want via public wi-fi is a big bonus. How many times have you been away from home and not been able to serious play? With VPN you can be in a cafe, a hotel, a university, or a company office on your break, and with VPN you’re still secure.
There is no question a VPN channel is a plus for gaming. You won’t become that uber leet resource minor or PVP player with a gaming VPN; that part is up to your skill in the game. But you will get to enjoy your gaming a lot more often and with a lot more security overall.