Three new high profile psychology reports detailing the numerous benefits of playing videogames provide vital new proof that gaming can have considerable positive effects on players.

The papers, released at this week's Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association in Boston, Massachusetts, will be sure to inspire some much-needed debate and clarity in this under-researched area.

Powerful educational tools

"The big picture is that there are several dimensions in which games have effects," including their content, how they are played, and how much, said psychologist Douglas Gentile of Iowa State University.

"This means that games are not 'good' or 'bad' but are powerful educational tools and have many effects we might not have expected they could."

Cognitive skill booster

Researchers Fran Blumberg and Sabrina Ismailer, from Fordham University in New York, analysed the problem-solving capabilities of over 120 fifth-, sixth- and seventh-grade US school children, as they were playing a videogame.

The study concluded that "playing video games can improve cognitive and perceptual skills"

Laparoscopic improvement

Psychologists Douglas Gentile and William Stone from Iowa State University, assessed the impact of a game used to train surgeons specialising in laparoscopy (minimally invasive/keyhole surgery).

The games lead to notable improvements in spatial skills and hand dexterity amongst the test group, which they claimed helped the surgeons in their experiments perform "significantly faster."

WoW beats out GTA

Finally, a third study looked at over 2,000 'prosocial' World of Warcraft players, around half of whom used "systematic and evaluative processes" to deal with in-game problems and were measurably less hostile than those of their peers that played violent games.