The way we play video games is different compared to when consoles first started out. Now, we can play online against our friends from mobile devices, and we have hundreds of games to choose from.

It means you’re never going to be bored with so much choice out there. But it also means that there are more things to worry about, such as keeping your gaming devices safe. We look at the most common things to look out for and what you can do to protect yourself to ensure you have fun when you’re playing next.

Online is the place to be

Nowadays, there’s a heavy focus for your console to be connected to the internet when you’re playing. So whether it’s a mobile game that needs to play off the servers or an Xbox game that connects to various stores and add-ons, you’ll always notice there’s a prompt for you to be connected (if you aren’t already).

There are also many stores you can buy games from, such as Microsoft or Sony stores, so the chances are that when you’re playing your favourite game, you’ll be online in some shape or form. And unfortunately, being online isn’t always the best place to be, as that’s where you can fall foul of the many cybercriminals out there.

However, you can take measures to stop them from getting your personal details or ruining your experience.

If you’re going to buy, buy legit

This is common sense really and applies to all types of purchases. You’d instead buy a watch from a reputable store than from the guy on the corner selling them from the selection strapped to the inside of his jacket.

So, if you’re going to buy a game to download, whether it’s for your PC or a console, you need to make sure you get it from a legitimate place. The good news is that your console will have its own store, so you know you’re in safe hands.

The PlayStation Store, Microsoft Store and Nintendo Store will have digital versions of the games you can buy and download straight onto your device. Of course, you can still pop into retailers (or order online) and get physical discs of games, too.

Of course, if you’re a hard-core gamer and know how to play in style on your PC, then you’ll find everything you need on Steam. These places are safe for you to buy at so you won’t have to worry when you’re shopping around.

Likewise, if you were to take part in real money gaming and place a bet at an online casino or bookies, you want to make sure that it’s a safe place and has a history of being so. Most searches and research on where you buy will steer you well on that job.

Is your internet safe?

Like we’ve said, gaming and consoles are all connected to the web these days. In fact, most of us are in our daily lives, too, with smartphones being a must-have. So just like using your phone, when you’re playing online, you want to make sure you’re using a secure internet connection. Playing at home using your wi-fi? Good. Not paying out for wi-fi and trying to piggyback on the neighbours? Not so good. You can cause a lot of damage by using a bad connection, as that’s where cybercriminals are likely to strike! So, stick to your own broadband.

A VPN could be the tool you need

Have you ever heard of a virtual private network? Or VPN for short? This is a popular tool that has been known to protect gaming devices that are connected to the internet. It essentially acts as a middleman network – you connect to it, and it connects to the internet.

That way, your own network is hidden behind it. So, it’s safe from any prying eyes that are trying to access your details via any flaws in your network. With built-in, military-grade encryption, they’re also a tough nut to crack and put off a lot of hackers.

VPNs not only keep your device safe when you’re playing online, but they come with a range of added benefits too. For example, you can change your network settings so you can access stores from different countries, perhaps even get better prices. And you can get faster speeds, too, much better for that multiplayer action.

They also are tailored to use for consoles, so are easy to set up, meaning you can get gaming and be confident that you, your details and your device itself are kept safe.