Dead Pixels follows a group of three friends who are joined online through their obsession and dedication to their online fictional game, Kingdom of Scrolls.
The show skilfully juxtaposes scenes from their real, every-day lives, with the magnitude of their mission in the game - gaining back their castle which has been under siege.
The female protagonist, Meg, wears a 1990 t-shirt in the opening scene, sending a powerful message, underneath all the comic elements of the show, about the dangers of the younger generation’s relationship with gaming.
Abandoning her badminton game, she rather shamefully flees to her virtual reality when she is called upon by Russel and Nicky, her fictional comrades. The characters’ communication through their headsets and their commentary whilst in the Kingdom of Scrolls provides heaps of humour due to their self-conscious awareness of their status as a gamer.
The scene where Russel has to awkwardly face his window cleaner, when he is caught at his desk gaming in the day - highlights his and the group’s, understanding of the anti-social, lame nature of their gaming. However, the feeling of social judgement quickly passes when their attention is refocused on the gravity of their task within the game. Moments like these are continuous throughout the first episode, giving comic flare to the topic of gaming as well as an endearing quality to their dedication.
Another pivotal moment during the first episode was Meg’s interaction with the new guy in the office, Usman. Clearly starved of sexual experience, probably because of her anti-social gaming, Meg embarks on a crusade to get her knight. Her resistance to licking her lips when he comes over to her desk, as instructed by her gaming friends through her headset, shows a clear overlap between virtual and reality. These boundaries become even more blurred when Meg invites Usman to join them online later on.
Meg’s introduction of the handsome Usman to Russel and Nicky in their parallel universe functions as a parody of meeting friends for the first time in real life. Usman seems to disrupt the flow of the trio’s mission and fails to go along with their societal rules in the game. Much to the shock of the characters, he comically picks his character to be a gigantic, green alien woman, wearing only her underwear. He then crudely proceeds to make his character look like she is masturbating with her sword. His mocking, playful approach to the game is not appreciated by the three friends, who seem to value their virtual mission more than their own real lives.
Suddenly, Usman’s character becomes more and more decorated with accessories. His monocle in particular stands out and the friends realise he is buying these items, as opposed to earning them as rewards. Realising he has a lot of money - they plot to kill him in the game and retrieve these valuable items.
Faced with this social dilemma, Meg discusses the killing of Usman’s virtual character with her roommate Alison. Alison’s naming of this act as ‘murder’ repeatedly reminds the viewers of the ethical implications of the act, as well as indicating the social consequences which will follow for Meg at work.
The murder occurs and an atmosphere of guilt follows, providing both comedy and shame. Usman’s battered reaction at work confirms the anti-social nature of gaming and Meg’s obsessive dedication to Kingdom of Scrolls.
The episode ends with the comic revelation that Meg and Russel live next door to each other. This further underlines their pathetic yet amusing gaming partnership because they communicate more through the virtual world than in real life.
- Watched on E4. 28/03/2019