Lifehacker posted a very good article addressing the question “Can video games make you smarter?” The article lays out the arguement video games do not make you smarter, but they do improve cognative ability.
When thinking about video games in educaiton, my biggest challenge to overcome is the misconception that video games provide no inherent value. This is simply not the case. Video games do quite a few things really well, and one of them is training the user to learn exactly what it wants them to learn.
From the article:
Whatever the game aims to train is what you’ll learn. Games that take the problem solving puzzles and critical thinking exercises that most of us remember as schoolchildren and update them with an interactive and adult-targeted medium can still impart those skills to older players. The issue with many “brain training” video games is that they want you to believe that you’re “getting smarter” by increasing your cognitive ability, or somehow protecting your brain from decay or the effects of aging by playing them. That may not be true, but games carefully designed to build problem solving, critical thinking, and reading comprehension skills will help you build those skills.