The documentary series Reset was produced at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, just when a large part of the world’s population was stuck at home. The video game sector found itself in the spotlight, while theatres, concert halls and cinemas closed their doors. The American presenter and journalist Dexter Thomas may evoke his memories of games of Super Mario Bros made during confinement, the interest of the episode of Reset devoted to the pandemic is elsewhere.
Taking as its starting point the monster success, in 2020, of online multiplayer experiences, such as Among Us or Animal Crossing, the series allows us to observe how the social life of millions of people has been entirely reconstituted in these virtual universes, judiciously questioning the video game beyond the simplistic prism of entertainment.
The range of fields is almost too wide for the ten twenty-minute episodes. For example, it deals with the thorny question of the preservation of programs and consoles, the lasting links with the American army or the toxicity of certain communities. Even if each part tackles complex subjects in a sinuous way, their nuanced tone makes it possible not to lose the thread.
The American digital media group Vice News, behind the series and with which the M6 group entered into a partnership in March, is faithful to its sassy editorial line and does not hesitate to press on sensitive points, which they are political, artistic, social or economic. “You can’t always count on the big publishers to get us out of great games,” we can hear about Cyberpunk 2077’s disastrous 2020 launch.
Another example on the theme of e-sport: for once, the floor is not given to a champion; a young coach of a Heroes of the Storm team testifies to having been left on the floor after the abrupt abandonment of the financing of a championship. Giving space to these dissonant voices is a wise way to remove the gray areas of this sector acclaimed by billions of players, but whose backstage is little known.
Whether they are developers, community managers, journalists or researchers, the many people interviewed in this “unauthorized guide to video games” bring to life different facets of video games. The series avoids the pitfall encountered by the usual documentaries on the field: that of replacing the human with the screens. The challenge was all the more difficult for the team to take up as the United States was still subject to confinements during filming.
From these travel restrictions, however, stems a certain American-centrism of the show. Hopefully, the next season will manage to pay attention to other epicenters of video game history, including Japan and Europe, which here seem to have been wiped off the map.