Scott Pilgrim vs. the World includes a lot of visual references to video games, but they all seem to have been added by someone who doesn’t know how video games work. The point of all the little glyphs, meters, effects in games is to communicate something, to show what the player can interact with and which actions get the player closer to achieving the games goals. For instance, when I saw the “pee bar” appear in this scene, I thought they were setting up a running joke where the pee bar would later appear at inopportune moments, letting us see that Scott Pilgrim needs to pee. But that’s not what happens; although there is a running gag about Scott running off to pee to avoid awkward moments, it’s conveyed entirely verbally, and the pee bar never appears again after this scene. The point of these visuals in video games, that is, is to induct the player into the logical world of the game, explaining a series of rules through which this world can be navigated, but that’s just what Scott Pilgrim vs. the World lacks. Nothing in the film ever happens for any kind of reason, and so it lacks any kind of weight; it is, instead, like some guy saying “oh, do you remember Street Fighter 2" for two hours, which is, sadly, a bit boring.


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It turns out a friend of mine is friends-of-friends with Lana Del Rey; more than a little embarrassing that it took this personal contingency to get me to pay attention to her music, which, I discovered when my friend played me this track, “Born to Die,” is really good. But I kind of blame the internet, because all the discussion seemed to be about how "Video Games" was about a guy who plays video games, what a loser, which sounds super boring. And even though “Video Games” isn’t her best song, it’s more complicated than this description suggests. Just on an obvious linguistic level, it’s not at all clear who’s playing the video games: the “you” of the first two verses, or the “him” of the second two (are these the same people)? Or Del Rey herself (I can’t see anything in the lyrics that rules that out)? And then there’s the way that “video games” floats as a signifier through the song: actual video games, probably, before the first chorus; but how do video games relate to “playing pool and wild darts” or the narrator’s “idea of fun”? At this point, the most obvious reading is that it’s the narrator herself who is “playing video games.” Is this a reference to the general idea of “playing games” in a relationship? Or a metaphorical description of her relationship, the one she’s having or the one she’s imagining, as escapist or ersatz or instrumental?

Also, according to Google, no-one has written a post about Lana Del Rey and gamification, which surely would have been some crack link-bait six months ago.

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