Typology of Internet gaming disorder and its clinical implications

Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2017 Jul;71(7):479-491. doi: 10.1111/pcn.12457. Epub 2016 Oct 30.


Various perspectives exist regarding Internet gaming disorder. While the concept of behavioral addiction is gaining recognition, some view the phenomenon as merely excessive indulgence in online pastimes. Still, in recent years, complaints from patients or their family members about problems related to Internet use, particularly Internet gaming, have become more common. However, the clinical picture of Internet gaming disorder could be obscured by its heterogeneous manifestations with other intertwined factors, such as psychiatric comorbidities, neurodevelopmental factors, sociocultural factors, and game-related factors, which may influence the pathogenesis as well as the clinical course. To mitigate such problems, clinicians should be able to consider diverse aspects related to Internet gaming disorder. Classifying such a heterogeneous problem into subtypes that share a similar etiology or phenomenology may provide additional clues in the diagnostic process and allow us to designate available clinical resources for particularly vulnerable factors. In this review paper, we suggest a typology of 'impulsive/aggressive,' 'emotionally vulnerable,' 'socially conditioned,' and 'not otherwise specified' as subtypes of the heterogeneous phenomena of pathological Internet gaming. The implications of these subtypes for assessment and treatment planning will also be highlighted.

Keywords: Internet gaming disorder; behavior addiction; classification; pathways model; typology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior, Addictive / classification*
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Video Games / adverse effects*
  • Video Games / psychology