The benefits of VPN for gaming and how to choose the best one?

4 min
Gaming setup in a calm room

Playing video games has long ceased to be associated only with kids. In many countries, it has become a sport taken quite seriously. The passion of gaming fuels an enormous industry, giving jobs and driving technological progress. Any experienced gamer doesn’t just install and play subsequent titles. He/she gathers distinctive equipment and auxiliary software. Among these, there is also a gaming VPN service. How can it help in gaming, and when?

What is a gaming VPN?

Virtual Private Network technology originated in 1996 (at the creation of the PPTP protocol, now obsolete). The motivation was to remotely access networks that weren’t supposed to be accessible remotely.

For data security, this connection is always encryption-protected. This gives its strength as a personal service: the ability to cloak one’s data traffic. That’s why the connection is called a tunnel: it’s impenetrable from the outside. A number of commercial VPNs use it to raise netizens’ cybersecurity. They offer, among others, a VPN for gaming. Besides being a safety feature, it also alters the user’s IP address, resulting in an apparent geolocation change.

It’s important to note that a VPN operates like an Internet-providing technology. Its protocols treat any data as a passive payload. So, the content makes no difference, it could be reading news, watching video clips, scrolling through funny cats, or gaming on VPN. There is no explicit way to make a VPN somehow special for playing games, as those two are independent. VPN and gaming just coexist.

What does a VPN do for gaming?

Having stated the above, there is another question: does VPN influence gaming indirectly? Of course, it does! Every Internet-supporting technology affects your online experience by the very definition. To understand how let’s outline what a VPN protocol modifies in a connection.

First, it redirects all of your online traffic to a remote server through the mentioned tunnel. This construct spans from your device to the distant server, where all your individual Web requests are forwarded to the real destinations. Hence, in usual Internet usage, they must travel further and through more intermediate points than without a VPN. This increases connection latency. Notably, the server handles hundreds to thousands of users simultaneously. The computing power of such machines is remarkable, but limited. This slows the transfer down.

Secondly, every piece of data sent through the tunnel gets encrypted upon entering it and decrypted when leaving it. This is a small additional load for devices’ CPUs. Also, every protocol adds a little of its own data to the transfer, necessary for it to operate.

Both effects result in improved anonymity and online security. VPN is also always hiding your IP address for privacy. The IP seen by your destinations won’t point to your real-life location. This can get handy in privacy protection while gaming, like using a nickname instead of a real name. What’s more, your transfer will be 100% encrypted, regardless if the game itself performs any ciphering for player safety.

But another conclusion is that the VPN slows the connection down, both by transfer rate and latency. The former doesn’t matter much in most online games, as their typical transfer requirements are below 100 kB/s – well within the capabilities of any decent VPN. The latter could be an issue. But there are cases when VPN online gaming can result in lowering the ping!

Gaming VPN lower ping

The lowest ping possible is desirable for every avid player, especially in fast-paced MMO games. It’s a direct measure of latency – the delay between what happens online and what the player sees. It depends on the quality of the devices and procedures on the way from the gamer’s place to the game server. As a rule of thumb, the closer they physically are, the smaller the ping.

In some cases, connecting to the VPN server first can reduce in-game latency! It happens when a VPN aims for a direct, stable connection and its server is located close to the game server. So, when striving to reduce latency, you should use a VPN with as many locations as possible. This way you’ll be able to find one close to your gaming destination.

Best VPN for gaming

To find the best VPN for gaming, first, look for the best one in general. Remember that it’s primarily a cybersecurity system, so safety features are critical. The first one is a chosen ciphering algorithm. For symmetric-key encryption, 256-bit AES is considered very safe.

Next, the VPN protocol applied by the vendor. There are several out there, but it’s hard to prove that any one is definitely safer or faster. If you’re interested, search for OpenVPN, L2TP, IKEv2 and WireGuard. TuxlerVPN uses SOCKS5.

Gaming on VPN has a specific requirement: a very large number of servers available. It gives a possibility to try to reduce ping by connecting from a VPN server close to the game server. Game vendors don’t usually disclose the exact locations, so expect a little trial and error here. This implies another requirement: the UI of a VPN app for gaming should facilitate location switching. You’d be better off with a clear list of places to pick from than going through the app menus.

How to use VPN for gaming?

Commercial VPN providers strive to make their services user-friendly. Everything on the user side is managed by a single app. Downloading and running it is as easy as it gets, typically there’s a downloadable installer on the vendor’s website. Turning a VPN on often doesn’t make a noticeable difference because it just works in the background. Changes take place in network architecture, not in the graphic interface. For example, TuxlerVPN can conveniently hide in the system tray so as not to bother you. When invoked, a large ON/OFF button can be switched and a list of locations can be chosen; and not much more, to simplify things.

VPN and gaming can be combined without much ado. The purpose is like usual with VPN: to boost player privacy and security. Choose the best VPN for your gaming and play safe!

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