On December 18, 2020, it appeared on Shazam alongside the rest of the tracklist for Chemtrails Over the Country Club.
MOJO magazine stated the song "mixes Portishead, Ricky Nelson's song 'Garden Party' and Allen Ginsberg's poem 'Howl' ("The best ones lose their minds") into a potent statement of defiance.
The song partially uses the melody from "Bird World" the original title and version of "Norman Fucking Rockwell".
Writing and Inspiration
As stated by Del Rey in an interview with MOJO magazine, the song's genesis began at a party that Del Rey and Jack Antonoff attended along with St. Vincent at the house of Guy Oseary. In the interview, she said "Something happened, kind of like a situation — never meet your idols. And I just thought, 'I think it's interesting that the best musicians end up in such terrible places'. I thought to myself, 'I'm going to try my best not to change because I love who I am'. I said 'Jack, it's dark'. And he said 'Well, it's dark— but it's just a game'". Antonoff told MOJO: 'Dark But Just A Game' is so her to me. Fly down the rabbit hole and smile in the same breath".
- A game is mentioned in "Video Games", "Beautiful People Beautiful Problems", "The Blackest Day", "Music to Watch Boys To", "Bartender".
- Dark(ness) is mentioned in "Dark Paradise" and in "Video Games" & "Honeymoon" (as dark blue).
- The phrase "we're making out in the parking lot" is similar to "makin' out in parking lots" from "Making Out".
- The melody in the chorus is lifted from the pre-chorus of "Bird World", an early version of "Norman Fucking Rockwell".
- The phrase "life is sweet" also appears in "Radio" and "Without You".
- The phrase “take them for what they got” is similar to "take them for all that they got" which appears in "Money Power Glory".
- Lana Del Rey — vocals, producer.
- Jack Antonoff — composer, producer, mixer, 12-string acoustic guitar, bass, drums, guitar, mellotron, percussion, synthesizer.
- Laura Sisk — engineer, mixer.
- Chris Gehringer — mastering engineer.
- John Rooney — assistant recording engineer.
- Jon Sher — assistant recording engineer.