Gaming is cool; according to lifestyle magazine Variety, 70% of Americans play video games and are developing their interest past simple mobile games. Retro games may well be next; while less technically flashy, retro titles often give a depth of storytelling and game play that can’t be found in the average AAA title.However, older games often utilize older technologies and programming languages that are prone to security issues. New retro gamers – and veterans, for that matter – should be aware and take a second look at their security arrangements before settling into the gaming lair. 

Enjoying online competition safely

Some of the greatest online games could now be termed retro. Unreal Tournament is 20 years old and its arena action remains peerless, Quake III aside. Strategies like Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds – which was recently re-released by GOG as part of a May 4th event – and Red Alert 2 are 18 and 19 years old respectively. While the single player campaigns for all of these games were fun, the online action was arguably the big pulling point. However, not all have online support. Whereas the Command & Conquer games have Origin support and Quake III is now browser based, UT and SW:GB use third party services. This is a common theme in many retro games, and the networks games are played over are sometimes unreliable. Gamers looking for old-school multiplayer thrills should protect themselves online with strong firewall and, preferably, a VPN, especially given the gaming-compatible connection speeds that VPNs can today offer.

Using reliable emulators 

Retro titles are often designed for operating systems long discarded and left unsupported by Windows or Apple. This problem is less pronounced with Linux systems, but still remains. As a result, emulators step into the gap, providing a virtual environment in which your game will run flawlessly. Emulation is generally safe, but not all programs are entirely reliable, and it pays to do your research and make sure you have a reliable product. Risks run from the severe, from the Bluestacks android emulator which users reported had broken hardware; to the absurd, such as the PUBG ransomware which Forbes reports forces users to load contemporary title PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds to remove the virus.

Examining file integrity 

Many retro games are now freeware, which is great news for all enthusiasts. Many Football Manager fans were overjoyed to see seminal title CM01/02 was legally released as freeware by Eidos, as were followers of cult hit Beneath A Steel Sky. The advantage of these officially released titles is they come from respected sources – for instance, in the case of CM, Football Manager community SortItOutSI. Conversely, many other retro freeware games are available from a huge range of websites with varying levels of reliability. Addressing this seems simple, but is crucial to keeping your PC or console in check. Get a well respected anti-virus with file scanning capabilities, and run the scan with every new download or tape. Research your anti-virus software also; many of the larger brands have unhelpful telemetry functions and run processes not dissimilar from malware.

With security in place, you and any interested friends will be free and secure to download retro games. There’s a huge offering out there; there are so many titles on offer across the consoles that you can enjoy. You can do it without endangering your technology’s security.

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