Are the memory training games worth doing, or can I just practice by memorising the things themselves I actually want to learn/remember?
From my experience: Yes, it’s definitely worth it.
You get faster and better at using memory techniques, which helps you when you need to memorize something for school/job/university. In addition to that, if you play on Memory League for example, the competition with other players makes it more interesting and helps you improve even more.
How much do you recommend I do each day?
When I started I did 15 minutes per day (with one day per week without any training). I think it depends a bit on how much you can fit in your daily schedule. It shouldn’t feel like a chore, memory training should be fun. I rarely ever did more than 30 minutes per day (except if I was playing with someone on memory league and we played a lot of games). Of course you can always do more training if you’re in the mood
In general I’d say 15 minutes per day is better than 2 hours on one day of the week.
Memory is a scam
What are some of the best memory games?
The above link, dated 1 Aug 2018, contains two quotes:
…some studies have found that brain-training games improve the “executive functions, working memory, and processing speed” of young people…
[but] …we find those who say that no such benefits exist… brain-training games “do not boost cognition.”
The above link has several links. You should really have a quick glance at each link.
IMHO, the links which are favourable to brain-training games predate the Lumosity trial of January 5, 2016, when they agreed to a $50 million settlement (reduced to $2 million subject to financial verification)
On the other hand, links which claim that brain-training games provide no benefits tend to have more recent dates. For example, this link from Aug 2018:
Here are some quotes from this link:
…performance on the test tasks after training were nearly identical to a passive control group.
…Our study calls into question the benefit of cognitive training beyond practice effects [this is also known as “the Lumosity effect”, in which participants simply get smarter at playing a game]
So it seems to me that it’s not as simple as “you pays your money and you takes your choice”.
IMHO, it’s a much simpler choice: you believes old results or you believes recent results. In other words, in Google, you should restrict the date range to the last 2 years (the “Tools” setting).