From the earliest days of computer ownership, we have kidded ourselves and others about the serious purposes of our PCs. But when it comes down to it, everyone likes gaming and always has done.
Over the years, the types of games have evolved, from Chuckie Egg and Jet Set Willie in the early 80s through the Minesweeper craze of the 90s right up to todayâ€™s multiplayer social games and the rise of online casinos.
[ Image courtesy : Wikipedia]
There are gamers of every age and the average home PC is used by all of them. But there are also dangers for the unwary.
Keep your guard up
The ability to chat with other players adds a new dimension to gaming, and 99 percent of them are just the same as you. But in every walk of life there are fraudsters and chancers. Keep the chat game related, and be cautious about sharing anything personal, however innocuous it might seem.
Fraudsters are expert at drawing out information about your address, date of birth and so on, which can be all they need to clone your identity.
Donâ€™t lose your shirt at the casino
Online casinos are probably the biggest growth area that gaming has seen over the past five years. New players are flooding in and keen to prove themselves at the next Danny Ocean. Just remember the old saying that fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
Sites like Bluebook have online guides that will coach you on how to play poker and give you the opportunity to hone your skills before you rush into the online casino and start playing for real. There are as many poker hustlers online as there are in a real casino, so it pays to prepare.
Check for age appropriateness
Those casino games emphasize the fact that gamers are no longer just teenagers. In fact, whether online or physical, a casino is the archetypal adult playground. Implicitly, that means it is not a place for kids, so make sure you log out of your account properly. When the kids take their turn, keep a weather eye on what they are doing and where they are doing it.
Boxed games and those purchased via an app store have age ratings, but this is not usually the case with online games on platforms such as Steam, so you will need to use some discretion and common sense.
Be careful with in app purchases
There are plenty of games that are free to download but then offer in app purchases to allow gamers to progress faster or enjoy added features. Conceptually, thatâ€™s fine, but where there is money changing hands, there are scammers trying to intercept it.
Last year, some horrendous statistics hit the press regarding in app purchase scams, where fraudsters were not only duping gamers to install malware, they were even persuading them to pay for it! Keep your antivirus protection up to date and always check what you are buying and from whom before parting with any money.