I thought it looked interesting but the boys who played didn't want to let any girls play so I never tried it.
Don't sweat it...now they've grown up and those same boys are still playing D&D because girls won't "play" with them
But seriously, I think the OP makes a good point, and I could see a game like D&D having some greater benefits on a child's mind than a typical board game becasue of its open endedness and complexity.
Speaking of complexity, that's the reason I could never get into it. It's a shame becasue part of me has always wanted to get absorbed in those types of games, but my gaming tastes run more toward the visceral and simplistic. Give me a digital gun and some aliens to shoot.