The benefits of VPNs for gaming

Having a great setup is really important for a gamer. First you need a top-notch display and a computer with some power behind it, then you’ll probably need a decent set of headphones, a good keyboard, ergonomic mouse and a chair you feel comfortable in. You may even consider splashing out on a high-quality camera if you’re thinking of taking up streaming. But the most crucial element is your broadband.

A fast, smooth internet connection is key. Being disconnected from a server or finding yourself lagging during a raid can be stressful, and has no doubt been the cause of quite a few broken keyboards.

VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) are great for making your internet connection more secure and can boost your speed in a number of ways, so we’re going to take a peek at how they can benefit your gaming.

Speed

Being able to pick and choose where you connect to the internet from, whether it’s America, Japan or some small island in the middle of the Pacific, is one of the main reasons a VPN can improve your internet speed.

For example, if you’re playing a server-based game, you can shorten connection routes by picking a server on your VPN that’s physically closer to your gaming server, dramatically reducing ping times and overall lag.

The added encryption and anonymity you get from using a VPN also means that you can hide your online activity from ISPs (Internet Service Providers). Now, we’re not suggesting that this means you can get away with anything untoward, but it does mean you can get around one of gaming’s most notable enemies: broadband throttling.

An ISP may throttle your connection if they think you’re doing something data intensive, like streaming or playing online. The excuse that many ISPs give for this is that they’re trying to conserve data to optimise speeds across their network. However, many would say it’s actually done to force users to buy more expensive packages.

The added encryption that a VPN offers means that an ISP can’t see your IP address or your online activity, and therefore can’t throttle your internet connection mid-battle.

Security

Most people access the internet directly via their ISP (Internet Service Provider). But while this connection is stable, it’s rarely secured and is very easy to trace back to you. In contrast, using a VPN involves connecting to the internet via an encrypted tunnel, which leads anyone following your trail to a VPN server in another location.

Buying games online can be tricky business – put one foot wrong and someone could make off with your credit card details faster than you can say ‘Leeroy Jenkins’. With the added encryption of a VPN, however, you can make it much more difficult for someone to steal your personal information – by setting one up on your PC, console or home router.

Game buying

Getting your hands on a new game the day it’s released is common for a lot of gamers, but to really get an advantage you might want to get it earlier. Staggered release times mean that one region often gets to play a new game hours, sometimes even days, before another.

VPNs allow you to mask your IP address, so you can appear to be logging on from servers based anywhere in the world. This means you can purchase new games from an international marketplace and start playing before they’re even released in your region.

As well as varying release dates, different regions can also pay significantly higher or lower prices for games (looking at you, Australia). By moving your IP address to a less expensive region, you can save yourself a tidy sum in a matter of months.

Trolls

Sore losers are a big problem in the gaming world. From non-specific threats to malware attacks, the lengths that some people will go to exact revenge for a winning headshot are surprisingly dark.

Luckily, you can protect yourself against the most irascible of trolls by using a VPN. Hiding your IP address online means that even if someone threatens to find out where you live or launch a campaign of hate against you on social media, the chance of them finding out who you are is very small. You’ll also be protected against those with the knowhow to perform a DDoS attack.

There are plenty of things that a gamer needs to perfect their setup, and the reasons for using a VPN are pretty compelling. So, if you’re still undecided about what you need in your gaming den, consider including a VPN in your arsenal of gadgetry to really make the most of your favourite pastime. You’ll be thankful you did the next time some sore loser threatens to find out where you live, or a game you’ve been dying to play is released earlier in another region.

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