VPNs have become hugely popular over the past decade, and for good reason: they offer many obvious benefits for a variety of Internet activities, especially online gaming.
You may think that VPNs are a gimmick or an overhyped fad - and given how many VPN ads are scattered throughout podcasts and YouTube videos, I wouldn't blame you for thinking that.
But if you don't use a VPN in today's online environment, you're only depriving yourself of benefits and protections.
It's time to buckle up and start using a VPN. Here are a few reasons why you should consider it, and how it can benefit you as an online gamer.
When connecting to public Wi-Fi
If you've ever played an online game on your laptop or phone while connected to public Wi-Fi, then you've actually made yourself very vulnerable.
For starters, anyone running a public Wi-Fi access point can see all the traffic going through it. Logged into the service at any time? They can tap into it and see your credentials. Sending messages in that online game? They can read them. Viewing web pages and downloading media? They know what you're doing.
In addition, any other person connected to the same public Wi-Fi access point can also eavesdrop on you. It takes some technical knowledge to do this, but it's possible. The harmless guy in the corner of Starbucks could be spying on you. 2.
Avoid bandwidth limitations
Using a VPN whenever you connect to public Wi-Fi will protect your data (due to encryption) and protect you from eavesdropping.
By using a VPN, your Internet activity is encrypted and makes it harder for your ISP to know exactly what you're doing. If they don't know exactly what you're doing, they can't selectively limit your bandwidth while playing online games.
Prevent being Doxxed
Your IP address may be exposed to game servers, Discord servers, Skype servers, etc.
Few things are as scary as being doxxed. Once someone knows your true identity, you lose your privacy and security; you no longer feel safe, even within your own walls.
If you're a public figure (such as a Twitch host), you're more likely to be flesh-searched, but it can happen to anyone.
Fortunately, when you use a VPN, your IP address is hidden, making it nearly impossible for others to know who you are (unless you give out personal information directly).
Access to region-locked content
Unfortunately, geo-restrictions are very common in online services today.
Some online games may only be available on certain continents, while other online games may produce regionally exclusive content.
Maybe the game you want to play is banned in your country. Or maybe the game forces you to play on a server in your region and you want to meet up with friends elsewhere.
You can get around the geographical restrictions by using a VPN and connecting to one of the servers in a different country/region. The game interprets the location of the VPN server as your location and treats you as someone in the country/region where that server is located.