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<p>9am - 5:30pm, M-F</p><br> Sat-Sun, spent with friends and family.

Is Online Gaming Safe?

Games Games Games!!!

Online gaming is one of those things that almost everyone takes part in at some point in time, whether it be solitaire, puzzles, or Minecraft. What we need to keep in mind are the various risks that come along with each. Typically, you will see the biggest difference between free gaming, and paid/subscription based gaming. A lot of people have the misconception that you can get anything and everything on the internet for FREE and have the same user experience as if you were paying a subscription.

Flash Games/Free Games

Yes, you can access websites that host  flash games for free. However, what you do need to keep in mind is that hosting a website, licensing games, and website upkeep isn’t free. So, unless all of the internet is just a giant, charitable, gaming utopia….there will be a catch.

So what is the catch? It can come in many forms. The most common being pop-ups and ads for other websites, that may not necessary benefit your computer. They can even be malicious and lead to malware and bloatware.

The most annoying type of catch, in my humble opinion, would be bloatware and toolbars. When you play the type of games that have to be downloaded, they can come packed with other unwanted software. Typically during the installation of these you will be given the option to download the additional software. Unless it is unchecked, it will install, and inevitably slow your system down. These can come in the form of browser add-ons, toolbars, and programs.

Why would these websites do this? Are they just mean-spirited? Well….its what makes the world go ’round….its the reason they started the website in the first place….have you guessed it yet?….the love of it, is the root of all evil….it’s green…

MONEY. You get what you pay for. This applies to the internet and all the fun little games that come along with it.

Unless you have just found the website of a passionate, young, developer who wants to bring happiness to the world…the rest want to make money. If you aren’t being charged for the game, they are going to get it some other way.

So, just bare in mind… though, the internet does involve some philanthropy, the majority of it wants your money. They will make it, one way or the other.

Subscription/Paid Services


Ok…I know your cash is hard earned, but as the old saying goes…”You gotta pay to play”.

If you are,  in complete nerd terms, “a serious gamer”…this is how you game. There are big franchises out there that are free-to-play, but the bulk of big game franchises require payment, subscription, or membership. These come in several different forms. The obvious selections being console gaming like Playstation and XBOX. With consoles, you can now buy your games at the store or on the consoles online download center. You can even delve into the realm of independent games, which can be relatively cheap, and sometimes really good.

Then there are games that you can purchase or make payments for, that are designed for personal computers. These include titles like Minecraft and World of Warcraft. Lots of crafts……

Then there are the online stores/communities that I typically recommend for our customers that can sometimes include all of the above. The service that we typically recommend here at Computer Depot Inc., is Steam. No….we aren’t paid to recommend them, but I’m sure we wouldn’t object to it….if someone from the website were to offer…..

Steam includes basically all the genres of gaming from Platform, to MMO, to First Person Shooters. They can even include some titles that were made famous in the XBOX  online store, like Super Meat Boy and Braid.

Steam is actually working on their own Operating System: here.

On a side note, if you would like to learn more about these indie games, I recommend watching, Indie Game: The Movie. It is really interesting look into how these extremely complex titles are made by small, independent developers.

The reasoning behind our recommendation of a subscription site like Steam is simple.  You are paying them, and therefore, they have no reason to blast you with malware and toolbars. Also, it is just a really neat way to keep up with all the newest games coming out, with support from the website and an online community.

Also, if you are a developer and you want exposure for your game, Steam is a great place and it is competitive. They want to sell great service, because they want to keep your business. This means they can weed out most of the terrible games, and stay on-top of hosting the best of the best. Developers want to be on Steam, and this in turn rewards the gamers, who just want to play good games, and not be bothered with other sales tactics.

What to Avoid

We have been here before. FREE…FREE….FREE.

Yes….there are some safe and free games out there. But, if that is their biggest selling point, and it says the word FREE, fifty times on the homepage, it is probably bad for your computer.

For the Kids

OK, parents: this one is for you. Say you have small children, and you want them to learn and have fun using apps on the tablet, or even on the computer…where do you start? First of all, help them when deciding on which games and apps to download. The upside to a tablet is that most of the apps are coming from either the Android, Microsoft, or iTunes app stores. These apps are screened and are typically safe for your device.

I won’t name any websites, but one’s name involves a stick that you balance and bounce on….anyways, some of these sites can include malware and bloatware. They aren’t typically a huge danger to your children’s innocence, but they can definitely do some things to slow your system to a crawl.

So, just try to monitor there activity with them,  and stick to app stores and similar services.


Avoid gaming websites with a hundred adverts on the homepage. Stick to paid-for services and app stores. I hate to pay for stuff as much as the next person, but you may end up paying your local technician to fix your computer after downloading a free game.

Goodnight and Good luck,



Caleb Humphries

Sevierville Store manager

Caleb Humphries

Tech Specialist and Creative Developer. It's all about music, break/fix, network architecture, and old video games with me.