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How you can stay safe in the world of metaverse gaming

Metaverse gaming is the next big thing in the games industry. But it comes with its own set of concerns. Here’s a look at some basic cybersafety tips

A person plays a virtual reality (VR) game during a preview day ahead of the digital games fair Gamescom, in Cologne, Germany August 24, 2022. (REUTERS)

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Metaverse is the 3D, virtual reality digital world. Think of it as a parallel universe that takes people into an interconnected network, offering a fully immersive experience that allows you to connect with others. Metaverse gaming, within this virtual world, allows gamers to earn digital items with real-world value.

Gaming experience in the metaverse

One of the basic things in metaverse gaming is creating your own avatar by building up its personality, which may reflect your digital self, but part of the attraction in this virtual work is that you can create your ideal gaming self. This space acts as a meeting ground for all the other players around the world to interact and join gaming communities with similar interests. With the control of the avatar in your hands, its movements are not only directed using the controller but also the gamer’s actual body movements, for an immersive experience.

For a more genuine experience, the gamer can choose to wear haptic vests or gloves to enhance their play. The minimal basic equipment required for this is a virtual reality (VR) headset, which doesn’t come cheap and may not be affordable for everyone. Such headsets can cost anywhere between 25,000 to 80,000. A high-speed internet connection is also essential for a smooth gaming experience, devoid of any interruptions.

The metaverse is mesmerizing and it may become tempting to play for longer periods of time, so getting that lifestyle balance is key. To stay grounded in reality, it is wise to put restrictions on the amount of time spent on gaming.

There are, however, some risks to be mindful of. As gamers interact with people they have no other connection with, they may begin to share information and credentials that could be abused by a cybercriminal.

Cybersafety concerns

As metaverse gaming involves the creation of an avatar or a new world with the help of VR and AR (augmented reality), it demands an excessive amount of personal information. A 20-minute VR session can generate two million unique data points, as per a Norton article, which is enough for inviting and giving access to a stranger. Hence, there is an underlying threat of losing that data or data theft. Certain details such as your full name, phone number, address, location, date of birth, place of birth and credit card/debit card number, bank account numbers and password are required in the metaverse.

Players play the game 'After H Battle Arena' in a virtual reality esports hall of the company EVA in Toulouse, on August 3, 2022.
Players play the game 'After H Battle Arena' in a virtual reality esports hall of the company EVA in Toulouse, on August 3, 2022. (AFP)

Cybercriminals who are hungry for extensive personal data often find it easier to access this data by just taking over an account. According to the 2021 Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report, 75% of Indian gamers have experienced a cyberattack on their gaming account, most commonly detecting malicious software on a gaming device anddetecting unauthorized access to an online gaming account. The metaverse does need stronger regulations to monitor the potential threats, given the high volume of personal data that is being shared. Hence, many avatars and their real-life gamers have concerns around data breaches that could expose their personal information and lack of data privacy.

How you can stay safe in the metaverse

By practicing good cyber hygiene habits, you can enjoy your gaming experience while keeping your personal information safer online and helping to maintain your privacy. Here’s a look at some basic cybersafety tips while gaming in the metaverse:

Using stronger passwords with varied combination of letters: A strong password strengthens your account and is often the best line of defense when it comes to protecting your data. Hackers use different methods, like credential stuffing or password spraying attacks, to access gaming accounts. One of the ways to avoid such multiple cyberthreats is to use a password with higher complexity and various combination of letters, symbols and numbers. A simple solution is to use a password manager.

Knowledge on NFT frauds: NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are digital assets which belong to the owner (gamer) and exist on a blockchain. If you are gaming in the metaverse, it is highly likely that you have come across them. Whether you are working toward a collectible digital item or interested in selling one, it is crucial to do your research before engaging in any transaction. Blockchain technology is a new concept for most people and many hackers are looking to take advantage of this with NFT frauds.

Keep personal information private: According to Norton research on gamers, more than 40% of the gamers surveyed admitted that they shared their personal information on gaming sites. This may seem safe, but it is risky and may provide enough information for hackers to take over your gaming accounts.

Gaming cybersafety: Whether you are a casual or professional gamer, it’s worth considering multiple layers of protection for your PC. Consider the benefits of a solution, with advanced technology, to help block cyberthreats and targeted attacks and to help protect your gaming account information.

Gaming is projected to be one of the most dynamic growing sectors for youth in India. Metaverse gaming is set to become a key contributor to the Indian gaming industry. It is indeed an exciting time. Along with incredible 3D immersive experiences, metaverse gaming comes with its own set of experiences and challenges, and safety concerns. As new people are drawn to this form of gaming, it requires proper knowledge and enlightening conversations.

Ritesh Chopra is director, sales and field marketing, India & SAARC countries, NortonLifeLock. Views expressed in the article are those of the author.

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