Last night, May 23, an interesting article was posted on Game Informers website by Ben Reeves. Reeves asked readers if they thought hitting the reset button in a game was considered cheating, and it focused mainly around L.A. Noire, as many people apparently aren't happy unless they get a perfect run on a case and a lot of resets are occurring. You can read what people had to say about the subject in the comment section to the article.
While I subscribe to GI and frequent the website, I decided write my answer here instead of in their comment section. My answer, the most lawerly of them all - it depends.
I know, seems like a cop out, but I really do think it depends on the game. For example, in L.A. Noire, once a mission is complete and a case solved, you are allowed to go back and replay any case you want for the purpose of trying to achieve a perfect score. In this case, no, I don't think hitting the reset button is cheating, it is just a faster way of doing what the game will allow you to do anyway. How can it be cheating to do what an in game mechanic allows you to do? I don't think it is.
On the other hand, when a friend was recently about to be eliminated in a game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals in NHL '11 he was quick to quit the game and give it another shot. Is this cheating? I would say so. The player was going to lose so he took himself out of the game in order to give himself another shot. There was nothing in game that would allow him to do this, so essentially he had to go out of game, and what do we call not playing by the rules of the game? Cheating.
What I worry about more when I am debating whether or not to hit the reset button is not cheating, it's cheapening. Hitting the reset button takes you out of the game, and in a day and age when gaming isn't just a plumber squishing a mushroom man, when the story and the characters matter, nothing breaks that fourth wall faster than resetting because things didn't go the way you wanted them to. I don't think anything demonstrates this better than the Fallout series. In Fallout 3, for example, the game plays entirely different depending on whether you save or destroy Megaton. While I don't begrudge anyone from multiple saves, seeing how things play out first and then making a final decision, it does take away from the game experience. A big aspect of Fallout, as well as many other games, is that the player doesn't get game over when they make a decision, but instead has to live with the consequences. It's what makes the decisions matter. If you can just reset, then what's the point?
So that's what I think about hitting the reset button. I personally don't like to do it, but I know a lot of people do. In the end though remember it's just a game. Play how you want.