The nightmare of connecting consoles to Newcastle University's internet

Why is it so difficult to play online games using the internet connection in university accomodation?

Joseph Caddick
26th October 2021
Image: Pexels
Given that we are living in the Digital Age, you’d think that it would be easy to connect a device to the internet; it’s something that’s become such an expected part of daily life, so any connection problems become very frustrating very quickly.
Image: Nintendo Blast

As a postgrad living in student accommodation, I’m no stranger to having to jump through hoops to connect my devices to the internet; in my first year, I was living in Park View, and one Ethernet cable was the magic remedy to any of my internet-related troubles. No such luck this year, unfortunately.

Technically, the devices are connected to the internet, in the sense that they can stream video and download updates/DLC, but there is a glaring problem; they can’t play online games. Any attempt conjures a NAT type error, making online play impossible. In 2021.

Apparently, it’s due to security measures. That’s all well and good, but do consoles really need so much security that their primary function becomes an impossibility? I’d assume most people would say it’s not worth the trouble, especially when consoles are much less likely to download viruses or be hacked when compared to computers. Apparently, “most games will work”, but “most games” is not all games.

Perhaps the most laborious part of trying to connect my devices is the trial and error aspect to buying Ethernet cables. Having already paid £4000 for my accommodation this year, having to spend extra money to try to connect my devices is unreasonable, and infuriating to say the least. Even more infuriating is that, after buying a bunch of cables in an attempt to change the NAT type, I was then told that the error was due to a deliberate firewall decision I couldn’t circumvent.

The stress it’s causing us is immense, all we want to do is relax and play games with our friends, but we can’t.

And that’s not even getting to what annoyed me enough to write this article. I was told to bring my PS4 onto campus in order to address any problems. A PS4 isn’t like a laptop, portability is very much not what it was designed for. It was heavy and a pain to carry. Then, when I got to campus I was told that the IT Service Desk didn’t have a device capable with a HDMI port. The fact I was told to carry a device into campus when not only was it unnecessary, but anything they would have said could have been said in an email, was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Even now, the issue remains unresolved, and it’s something that I believe the University should address. One of my flatmates is currently using his laptop’s hotspot and a VPN in order to get a connection on his Switch, and needless to say it’s about as laggy as you’d expect. We shouldn’t have to do this to use the internet that we’re paying for. And the stress it’s causing us is immense, all we want to do is relax and play games with our friends, but we can’t.

NUIT have tried their best to help with the issue in just about every way possible, but it seems that the problems are coming due to decisions from higher up to limit security perhaps a little too much. Exercising caution is good, but there’s a point where it can do more harm than good in the long run.

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