Net Neutrality In Gaming — What It Means for Gamers

(Note: It is extremely difficult to leave politics out of an issue such as Net Neutrality. A strong effort was made to keep this topic as apolitical as possible.) 

Christmas time is fast approaching. It’s time to get all of those Christmas cards together and ready to ship. However, this year shipping works a little differently. When you get to the post office, you notice a guy in front of you getting ready to ship a large package. This is nothing strange — it happens all the time. You overhear the cost to ship and the delivery estimation, which is longer than what it would take for your cards. Still, this is nothing strange. The strange thing happens when it is your turn to ship your Christmas cards. Your shipment’s cost and delivery time is exactly the same as the large package’s. You become confused because it does not take nearly as much effort or money to ship your cards compared to the package that the guy in front of you was shipping.

That is Net Neutrality in a nut shell.

In official terms, Net Neutrality is ensuring equal bandwidth to every website for the sake of fairness. Net Neutrality dictates that internet service providers (ISPs) cannot provide a “fast lane” to certain websites while degrading bandwidth on another site. Since this term was coined over a decade ago, debate over the regulation of the Internet has occurred more often than that email you get about your grandma’s cats. It has also dominated the media recently thanks to President Obama voicing his opinion on this issue and asking the FCC to employ strict rules to insure Net Neutrality. The idea of Net Neutrality is an incredibly complex issue, so I’ll address the most important question: How does it affect me, as a gamer?

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First thing’s first: we have always lived in a world of Net Neutrality. ISPs have never really experienced much change in the way they operate. We have come along nicely with the current system that we have. It’s like the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The Internet has progressed at a rate that is satisfying to everyone, but now it has become a place where certain groups want to overtake control of how the Internet operates. Depending on your ideology, this could be the government or private corporations.

As gamers, we require a large amount of bandwidth to run our online gaming experiences. There is nothing worse than lagging through a match of League of Legends or Advanced Warfare. With increased governmental regulation, treating the Internet as a public utility might hamper the gaming experience even more. With increased regulation of the rate that ISPs can provide bandwidth to certain sites, bandwidth hogs such as Xbox Live and Playstation Network will have decreased bandwidth thanks to the equal playing field for all websites. The case for Net Neutrality states that certain sites, such as Netflix, might pay more for bandwidth which will lead to a decreased bandwidth for a smaller site. Big websites have been able to do this for a while now but never have. So why are people afraid that this will happen? Let me know what you think!

Increased regulation also leads to less innovation on the part of ISPs. Have you been longing for those gigabit speeds? Forget about it under the new regulations. Why spend the money to lay fiber optic cables when websites can only run so fast? Forget about those fast speeds for your online gaming.

The Internet is an incredibly powerful tool. There is no invention that has more of a profound impact on our daily lives than the Internet. I understand that Net Neutrality is an incredibly complex issue. If you fall on the side of agreeing with the new terms of Net Neutrality, I completely understand. However, we have only scratched the surface of what the Internet is possible of doing. I long for an Internet that is free from government intervention and can flow the way that it has always flown. The current Internet sustains such streaming services like Netflix, YouTube, Xbox Live, and PlayStation Network. We should strive to keep the Internet the way that it has been since its inception. It has worked perfectly fine that way.

Also, remember the last time the government tried setting up a website? Look back at healthcare.gov last year. I have every right to be pessimistic.

It is extremely difficult to talk about Net Neutrality without talking politics, a topic that many of you cannot stand, and I sympathize with you. I could go much deeper into the topic (Title I and Title II and forbearance.) However, I do not feel that this is the place to go deep into the politics of Net Neutrality. But one thing is certain: it is important to read up on issues such as this, educate yourself, and make your voice heard. The Internet provides a voice for everyone and you have every right to voice yours.

Let me know what you think on this topic. I’m extremely curious to find out. Send me a tweet @RyanFinfrock. Also, be sure to keep it locked to APGNation.com and on Twitter @APGNation for all of your gaming news. 

Ryan Finfrock
Written by
“Cheap Five Dollar Dress.” That’s what my last name loosely means in German. That is pretty much my only claim to fame at this point of my life. In other parts of life, I am a 21-year-old student from Cincinnati, Ohio studying Electronic Media and Broadcasting with a minor in Political Science at Northern Kentucky University. If I’m not studying, working or sleeping, I am trying my hardest to sneak in some game time on my Xbox One or 3DS (Destiny, Madden 15 and Smash Bros. are taking up most of my time.) I also enjoy the occasional iOS game on my iPhone or iPad. I am also a novice filmmaker and news junkie. I work with production folks on a daily basis and start my morning browsing the interwebs and see what the biggest news of the day happens to be. I also enjoy watching movies as much as I can. (But movies are way too dang expensive anymore!) I am firm believer that video games are art. I really started realizing this during the Mass Effect 3 controversy. I couldn’t believe that people wanted Bioware to change the ending to the game. To me, it was like people wanting to change the Mona Lisa because they didn’t like how the hands looked. This was the point where I was writing a lot about video games on my blog and developed a strong passion to video games. I believe video games can be a very powerful platform and the second-best form of storytelling next to reading a book. Bioshock continues to be my favorite game of all time because it brings together good gameplay (at the time) and fantastic storytelling. Also, it has one of the best twists in the history of gaming. So if you haven’t figured it out yet, I love story-driven games. I also take fantasy football way too seriously and am a desperate, die hard Cincinnati Bengals fan.

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