Video games have come to exist hand-in-hand with the internet, and the industry is far better for it. We can now play in competitive and co-op modes with people from all over the world, whether we’re gaming on mobile devices, high-end consoles, or even simply through our browsers. It’s actually pretty amazing when you think about what “multiplayer” meant 15 years ago (basically, friends on a couch with tangled up controllers playing Super Smash Bros.!). But the migration of gaming to online channels also comes with safety and security risks that we all need to be mindful of.
Let’s look at a few broad categories, and why a safe and cautious approach is wise in all of them.
Some mobile games that work with online multiplayer are pretty innocent and harmless. For example, looking at some of the puzzle games that helped to launch mobile online multiplayer and keep it popular (think Words With Friends, Ruzzle, etc.), there’s really not much going on that could expose you or put you at risk. In other cases, however, such as with massive MMO strategy games, or alliance-based fighting and RPG titles, you can get linked up with very competitive players in an environment in which spending money in the game is surprisingly easy. To put it simply, our games are tied to our bank accounts in some instances, and for this reason it’s important to protect devices and gaming accounts. Don’t let others use your accounts, make sure your devices are secure, and be mindful that games can often trick you into spending money when you didn’t intend to, and you should be alright.
Online Casino Gaming
This seems like more of a niche category, but in fact it’s a genre that caters to millions of players, and it also happens to be one of the riskiest forms of modern gaming. Online casino sites have become incredibly impressive in their offerings, and many of them involve a high volume of transactions with players. But in a form of online gaming designed specifically for real money play, it’s of the utmost importance to take a cautious approach. Safety tips for online casino gaming include checking on a site’s licensing (many try to operate without a license to do so), checking ratings, and trying free gaming samples before you dive all the way in. Basically you want to make sure the site you’re using is legitimate, and that the games work as they’re supposed to, before you put any money on the line.
With console multiplayer gaming you can encounter some of the same concerns that exist in mobile. But the primary issue is protecting your own identity. It’s a very rare problem, but we’ve seen news stories about people having real world conflicts with people they encountered in games. The most extreme example is a man who tracked down and assaulted someone who had killed his character in a video game. That’s not to scare anyone off of these games, but merely to remind you that there’s no reason to use a real identity in any way when you’re entering a console multiplayer environment. It’s best to stay anonymous, and to avoid getting into any major arguments with strangers. You never know who’s taking things too seriously on the other side of the screen.
Online gaming has done wonderful things for the industry, and at the end of the day it’s a lot of fun. Most of the time it’s perfectly safe, too. But these kinds of basic cautions are still necessary to ensure a safe and happy gaming experience.