Gaming at Evangel and NAT-Type Errors


Problem: My game shows that I cannot play due to a NAT error. What is this and can anything be changed?

Explanation: Game developers often create online games that assume that you have a public IP address. These are directly addressable resources that get you on to the internet.

Most households get 1 IP address for their router and then use multiple devices connected to that router. Those additional devices use NAT as a technology to give internal IP addresses to each of the devices on the home network. Network Address Translation keeps your devices connected to the internet by managing the connection from each device to the router. However, any internet resources (webpages, chat apps, games) you are using only ever see the same 1 IP address of your router.

Due to a worldwide shortage of IP addresses (IPv4 specifically) and a future phaseout of the technology, Evangel has a limited number of IPv4 addresses to use. These are prioritized to servers first for educational purposes and then to the buildings throughout campus. We use a strict NAT to give 1 IP address per building. In the case of any internet resource that is being used, that resource does not "see" more than 1 entity, say Zimmerman Hall. In the case of certain video games, this limits 1 person per building to play the game. When that is the latest game release that came out on this last Tuesday (that everyone is wanting to play) it will limit your ability to play the game and everyone else in the building.

Two years ago, the IT team added a gaming firewall and created the gaming ports that are now in the dorm rooms. This firewall handles uPnP and the overall traffic in a way that helps with gaming, but doesn't get us all the way there.

We're not alone in this struggle. Apartment complexes that provide free internet are often NAT-ted behind 1 IP address. Other universities with limited IPv4 addresses are in a similar situation.

One possible help is the newest standard IPv6 which has 340 undecillion addresses. That's 8 levels higher than trillion, giving enough addresses for multiple trillions of addresses per person on the planet. IPv6 comes with no need for NAT and would allow for Evangel to stop using NAT on IPv4. This comes with a few current catches/challenges:

  • First, only Xbox One can use IPv6, it is not currently supported on PS4;
  • Second, our internet provider in Springfield has only rolled out 1 company so far on IPv6;
  • Third, our environment will have to run both IPv4 and IPv6 simultaneously (dual stack) until everything is ready for IPv6. This adds a level of complication.

We, the IT department, will be working towards solutions as we are able. Thank you for your patience in the meantime as we continue to make Evangel a safe and fun place to be on the internet.

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