The world of online gaming has grown dramatically over the last few years, introducing thousands of games on dozens of different devices. Whether you prefer playing single-player, casual games on your smartphone or going to war with a cabal of friends on your computer, there are ways to improve your gaming experience and to keep you safe online.
Monitor Your (and Your Kids’) Communications
Many online games allow you to communicate with others via headset or in-game instant messaging. While this can prove valuable as a social experience, it can also put you at risk.
Avoid giving out personal information to the people with whom you play, including where you live and the names of your family members. If you have kids who enjoy online gaming, make sure they know the rules, as well. Even if you’re playing with people you know in real life, remember that others might have the ability to eavesdrop on your communications.
Gain Access to Better Games With a VPN
A VPN (virtual private network) like Hotspot Shield Elite can make available thousands of games that aren’t normally available where you live. E-commerce and app stores sometimes block certain countries for specific games and apps because the manufacturer doesn’t have an agreement or contract to sell games there.
When you have a VPN, online stores can’t tell where you live. Therefore, you have access to more (and better) games than before. You can download whatever games you want behind a privacy shield. If you’ve had your eye on a specific game that you can’t download, a VPN offers you the chance to finally get your virtual hands on it.
Hotspot Shield Free version comes by default with the US location and a limited access to streaming content. When you upgrade to Hotspot Shield Elite (premium version starts at $2.50/month), you get instantly access to 15+ virtual locations, faster speed, unlimited bandwidth and the ability to activate your licence on up to 5 devices simultaneously. So all the family can play securely online at the same time!
Set a Monthly Gaming Allowance
Regardless of the genre of game you love to play, your hobby can get expensive fast. Whether you spend your cash downloading new games or making in-app purchases, gaming can become a budget-buster if you don’t keep yourself and your kids on a tight leash.
Consider establishing a monthly gaming allowance. Whether it’s $5 or $50, once you reach that limit, you can’t make another purchase until the following month. Not only will you avoid going over budget, but you’ll also teach yourself to spend more wisely.
Get Discounts on Games You Love
Just as a VPN can reduce geographic restrictions on games, it can also give you access to cheaper prices. Game prices are often based on geographic location; a game that costs $40 in the United States might go for $25 in the UK, for example.
Because a VPN hides your IP address and allows you to set your virtual location, you can choose to buy a game based on where it’s least expensive. Your monthly gaming allowance will go much further if you’re not forced to pay the higher price.
Reduce the Risks of Getting Kicked Out
You’ll also benefit from a VPN if you find yourself frequently kicked out of games because you’ve run out of bandwidth or because the server is overloaded. A VPN can route your Internet connection through multiple servers, which means you can stay with your clan or continue progressing toward your goals as long as you want.
Pay Careful Attention to Links
Whether your friend sends you an invitation to download a new game or you receive a marketing email, don’t click links until you verify their source. Thieves take advantage of online gaming’s popularity by sending phishing links and other nefarious files via email.
Play it safe by typing the name of the game into your favorite search engine. You can trust the links that come up as long as they come from recognized sources, such as Steam or Origin, or one of the app stores. Don’t download games if you can’t verify the source because they could contain dangerous code.
Don’t Trust Cheats Automatically
Some online gamers prefer to play without outside assistance, while others want faster access to better weapons or higher levels, depending on the game. Your friends or strangers might send you downloadable cheats. While many of these files prove harmless, some contain spyware and other harmful files.
Only download and install cheats if they come from a reliable source. You can always check with the person who sent them. Have they used the cheat before? Did they notice anything suspicious? Keeping your anti-virus software active will also help protect you.
Scrub Your Old Devices
New hardware becomes available every other week, it sometimes seems, which means you might dispose of old equipment regularly. If that equipment stores information — such as passwords or banking information — make sure to fully scrub it before you allow it to leave your possession.
This is especially true if you’re selling or donating your old equipment, but it also applies if you toss it in the trash or recycling bin. Scavengers could pluck your device from the trash heap and use the information on it to their advantage.
No matter how much time you spend in the world of online gaming, it’s important to maximize every second. These tips will help you stay safe and will increase your opportunities for new games as well as old ones.