There's a whole virtual economy out there.
It's one built on skill, experience and reputation.
People have established significant careers over years, honing their talents, establishing networks and yes, making money.
Whether you're into it, or you've never really tried it, there's no denying gaming is one of the fastest growing industries in the world and depressingly, that's made it an attractive target for identity thieves and other cyber crime organisations.
Depending on which game or platform you're playing, you could be handing over a lot of private information for the privilege - from your unique gamer tag right up to your address, credit card or even your Facebook login. More worryingly for parents, your kids are probably doing this every day - perhaps without you even realising it.
Obviously, investing in a reputable suite of online security products is the best way to keep you and your family safe and sound.
But if that software is going to get in the way of your ability to game uninhibited, forget it.
Well now you can join the melee and be cyber-safe at the same time...
When I first heard NortonLifeLock had released a gamer-specific version of its proven and popular Norton 360 security suite, I could immediately appreciate the goal of the exercise. Recent studies suggest up to two-thirds of New Zealanders are gaming and a Harris Poll commissioned by NortonLifeLock claims a third of those people have had a gaming account hacked - some more than once.
Now, it's not just your high scores and game progress at risk here. As I've already highlighted, identity theft is a real threat but more specifically, for gamers, upgrades and addons you've paid real money for are up for grabs, not to mention the most fundamental threat of all; someone logging into your game, changing your credentials and locking you out. Bit of a bummer if you've just handed over ninety bucks to download Red Dead Redemption II and now you can't play it.
And yet many gamers opt to run the bare minimum of online security for two main reasons; connection slow-down and annoying pop-ups.
I've tested it. Using the VPN included with Norton 360 for Gamers seems to have little to no effect on my internet speeds - certainly I can't see any impact on the way any of my games operate, either on PC or my phone.
Of course, it's virtually impossible to assess exactly how effective the "less intrusive notification" thing really is - how do you measure something that literally isn't there? What I can tell you is I haven't been bothered by notifications at all. Remember though; I'm no professional gamer. I'm not spending hour after hour trying to level up or earn my next weapon upgrade - but from what I've experienced so far, Norton 360 for Gamers is going about its business quietly and effectively in the background - very quietly.
Unfortunately, there's no way to install Norton 360 for Gamers on a console - that'd be the ideal scenario. In saying that, Xbox and Playstation users haven't been left completely out in the cold, thanks to Norton's Dark Web Monitoring. I've been using Norton cyber security products for years now and I've found them to be totally effective, with the recent addition of features like Dark Web Monitoring offering even more peace-of-mind. This is where you can load in various pieces of your identity to see if you're being traded on the internet black market. From details like your email address and credit cards through to the answers to common security questions like your mother's maiden name, this is all stuff cyber-crims are looking to hoover up. Now, to make things more inclusive for gamers, you can also task Norton 360 to keep an eye on your gamer tags - up to ten different ones in fact. If someone in the virtual underworld has nicked your tag and is trying to trade it without your knowledge, Norton will let you know so you can take the appropriate action. (I guess that means coming up with a new name... glennzbII?)
The upshot of a feature like this is it protects you regardless of what device you're using - even if you're gaming using someone else's gear. It's your online identity and details being protected, 24/7.
Most of this stuff is already available with a non-gamer subscription to Norton 360 and in fact, once installed, it's almost impossible to tell the difference. Remember, normal 360 still offers Dark Web Monitoring, even the Gamer Tag option. You also already have the ability to silence notifications in the original version with a right-click on the Norton icon in the system tray. Yes, Norton 360 Premium is a bit more expensive than the Gamer edition but it covers up to five devices while Gamer will only do three.
I'm not saying don't buy Norton 360 for Gamers - quite the opposite; I think it's an elegant and effective solution to keep yourself safe while gaming. I'm just suggesting if you're responsible for more than three Macs, PC's or phones, another few bucks for Premium is probably worth considering too.