Check out this pretty good read by Adam Penenberg about the role of video games in modern life.
It seems to be pretty spot on, since it echoes the importance of virtuality, which I've been touting since around 2004. Are there downsides to video games? Sure, the same way there's a downside to indoor plumbing when a clog turns your poop-deck into shitatorium for several hours. Generally speaking though, they offer tons of advantages, and seem to be a gargantuan mode of human expression moving into the twenty-tens. GTA and Second Life type games offer average joe-blows a scaffold to be the kind of dickhead that they really want to be in real life but now can save for the x-box. Adventure/quest games condition the brain to respond to the real value of incentives. Puzzle games award excercize of critical thinking. I won't continute to regurgitate my already beat-into-the-ground Lawnmowerman-ifesto, but check out the article and comment.