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Can someone track my IP Address through games I played?

Introduction

Online gaming is a very big and common thing in today's age of technology and many people sometimes have queries about their security and safety while playing games online. This often leads to the age-old question of whether or not someone can track others' IP Address through the games they play. To better understand exactly how that's possible, we'll first lightly explain and touch on how online games typically work.

Hosting Servers

Within the Internet, a series of servers exist to host a slew of information relevant for people to do most things. This includes playing any game online in which a person can see other players in realtime from other parts of the world. This means that at the core, the visual representation a person may see while playing a game online is nothing more than data on a server somewhere on the internet. This server stores the data of everyone connected to it and updates it in realtime to ensure that every player can see the relevant changes as they play games; such as moving their character forward, firing a bullet, or changing how their character looks. In the process of these updates, what occurs is that the user sends data to the server telling it what has changed and the server makes these changes to the user's data. Then, the server ensures that everyone else on the server who's within that user's field of vision also needs to see the changes made. In this way, the user only sees a server's IP Address, and the server only sees the user's IP Address which might make one think that it is not feasible for a person to find your own IP Address from the games you play. There are, however; hackers who take advantage of exploits and vulnerabilities to find this information which means that the answer is not that clear cut and more relies on the security of the host server.

There is also the matter of private servers that should be considered. Some particularly popular games may offer the option for others to purchase or rent a server of their own to use and host their own lobby or game with some level of control. Typically, these services are rendered with some limitations for the consumer and those who join their server so as to preserve that aforementioned level of security. There are, however, some who simply host their own private server outside of these services and have full access to these servers. In these cases, a person can easily find out the IP Addresses of everyone on the server as they are the unequivocal owner and host of that server with access to everything on it.

There also exists some games which do not use servers to host their online sessions but instead, rely on Peer-to-Peer (P2P) connections between parties. These online games typically host smaller groups as everyone's speed is reliant on how close they are location-wise and the strength and reliability of their connection; meaning, poorer connections or players further apart can have a very bad experience. This does however also present players with an opportunity to use exploits and tools to find out the IP Address of their peers in the lobby however as those players are connected to them directly with their IP Addresses in some way. Typically, these lobbies should be connected with a VPN to ensure security but it is not always guaranteed to be the case.

Common Games this Can Potentially be Done On

As mentioned before, being able to find a person's IP Address from the games they play ultimately depends on the server being used and its security. However, in the scenario of games where players can host their own servers and would have full access to the data, there are a few.

World of Warcraft (WoW) is an extremely popular game that has existed for more than a decade now. Not only is it a very notable online game, but it's also a very common game where players make and host their own private servers.

Years ago, the older Call of Duty (CoD) games were also quite susceptible to this, but because of their lobby-matchmaking system. With their online server system being based on P2P connections, it became possible for skilled people who knew what they were doing to easily view a person's IP Address when playing with them in the same lobby; especially back in a time when VPNs were not as popular nor commonplace.

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