RESET: The Unauthorized Guide to Video Games Is a Compelling Look at Gaming History

VICE TV's RESET: The Unauthorized Guide to Gaming is a new documentary series that promises to cover all aspects of the video game industry. Ahead of the show's debut, was given the opportunity to check out the first two episodes of the series. Hosted by VICE News Tonight's Dexter Thomas, each of the show's 22-minute episodes deals with a different aspect of gaming, incorporating interviews, historical background, and the various ways that this specific aspect of the culture has evolved over the years. So far, the series seems to be off to a pretty promising start!

The show's debut episode deals with video game preservation. Making the first episode about the video game industry's struggles with historical preservation feels very appropriate for a series intending to address gaming history. In the first episode, Thomas talks about the fact that some of the industry's most important works remain exclusively available on their original platforms, using GoldenEye on Nintendo 64 as one specific example. While there have been attempts at remaking the game, none have panned out. As older technology starts to break down, games like GoldenEye run the risk of being lost to time. The episode touches on elements like ROMs, but understandably avoids a deep dive, for legal purposes.

The second episode of the series offers a look at the way the fighting game genre has evolved over the last 30 years. Games like Street Fighter II established a major community in the arcade scene, as top competitive players made the rounds in local establishments. While arcades have all but disappeared over the years, the fighting game scene continues to thrive thanks to massive in-person competitions like EVO. The episode tracks that progress, and the way that some elements have changed while many have remained the same. The episode also discusses the ways that the fighting game community has struggled with issues such as misogyny and racism.

One of the most striking things about RESET is the fact that it manages to cover quite a bit in a short amount of time. While the video game industry is relatively younger when it comes to media formats, there's still a lot of intricacies when it comes to concepts like video game piracy, and Thomas does an excellent job breaking down the concepts and explaining them to audiences that might not know them as intimately; it's clear that the show's producers have done their homework! The format also presents the topics in a very interesting way.

However, if there's one thing that might hurt RESET moving forward, it's the fact that the short episode lengths might make it difficult to offer in-depth looks at each topic. For example, while the first episode discusses the struggles of preservation for older games, it does not touch on the fact that this continues to be a concern for newer releases that exclusively release digitally. The fact that each episode is self-contained could also prove a hindrance in that regard as it seems that topics will be essentially dropped the following week.


Despite these quibbles, RESET: The Unauthorized Guide to Gaming is definitely worth watching. Thomas is an excellent host, and those interested in learning more about the history of gaming would do well to take a look. This could prove to be a great way for newcomers to learn more about different elements of the video game industry.

RESET: The Unauthorized Guide to Gaming will premiere February 3rd at 10 p.m. ET/PT.