The answer is yes, according to the findings of a study in Argentina published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
For a period of ten weeks, 111 Buenos Aires first graders with attendance issues were given fifteen minutes of gaming time three times per week. Half of the group played games involving memory and planning skills, and half played non-specific games of the child’s choosing. During the testing period classroom work remained the same, and the teachers were not informed of the details of the study. The aim was to discover if the mental exercise involved in gaming could boost mental abilities required to do school work.
The results showed the children who played the memory and planning focused games improved so dramatically that not only did they achieve higher maths and language test scores than ever before, but they actually caught up to those students with regular attendance.
As a singular study the results cannot prove conclusively that playing certain video games can improve school grades, but it does suggest that the mental exercise from specific types of games can help enhance mental abilities for school work. Other studies have shown that fine motor, problem solving, decision making and even social skills can also be improved by playing appropriate video games.
When deciding on video games for your child, do a little reading and take a look at the skills involved to play. Those with a necessity for forward planning and a reliance on memory skills might actually help them in the classroom.