This game has been sitting in my Steam library for quite a long time, probably since its release in 2018. It’s strictly meant as a 20 minute joke, and even its developer describes it as “Something to do while you download a proper game”. Still, it’s a very well crafted joke, and an excellent way to waste 20 minutes.
Point and mock.
How to cope with boredom and loneliness is a 2D pixelated interactive story. The player character, Nigel Wimble, is making a documentary on Harold Fletcher. Harold has been grounded by his mother for 30 years, and it’s up to the player to shed light on Harold’s life by asking it about certain objects in his room. Three items are then selected, a short documentary is filmed, and the goal is to receive a perfect review. Clicking on an item will prompt Harold and his mother to talk about it. Sometimes an item will reveal a sad story, like how a drawing of two fishes represents Harold and his father who passed away. Other items, like a pile of paper will show that Harold likes to write erotic novels set in space. Learning the meaning of all the items takes maybe 5 to 10 minutes, the rest of the time is spent watching the documentaries with different levels of success until the player lands a perfect score. The game starts being repetitive very quickly. All three items in the final documentary are given unique score, and getting three 10/10s is just a matter of trial and error. This is offset by the fact that each item has a unique and interesting story behind it, and the player can skip dialogue and parts of the documentary that have already been heard. Another problem, is that when Harold is asked about an object in his room, he’ll say what the object means to him so that the player can decide if it’s a good documentary subject. However, the description given in the final interview can vary wildly, making it feel like a waste of time. But hey, that’s what the game is about; wasting time.. Right?
There is a grain of truth in every joke.
The game is meant to be taken as a joke, and nothing else. The only person that truly knows the meaning behind a piece of art is the artist themselves. Therefore, if the developer says it’s a joke, it’s safe to presume it’s legitimately just a joke. A 20 minute long joke about a man-child that sleeps in a racecar bed, spies on girls with his telescope, is the victim of physical abuse by his mother, and still hasn’t fully grieved over the death of his father.. The game harbors such a quantity of serious themes, it’s only fair to look into them. One of the items in Harold’s room is a poster of the movie KGBee, a parody of the real Bee Movie. KGBee is about Boris the KGBee, a dissident bee who fled the Soviet Union after having had to torture fellow bees. When asked about it, Harold will say that’s it’s the last movie he actually enjoyed even if it came out decades ago, because it shows that people can change. A long, elaborate joke about bees running the Soviet spy agency, just to show that Harold desperately wants his mother to understand that he’s a good boy and no longer deserves to be grounded. A couple of other items will reveal the unresolved grief of the father. The player character, Nigel, will say that a grown man who still plays with a toy truck is pathetic. Harold will correct him and say that it’s deeply meaningful to him. His father was a trucker and handcrafted the toy truck while on the road. His father died in an accident, and his widowed mother, angry at his father’s death, has since refused to remarry, saying “No one else could handle a little shit like him (Harold)”. Again, a quick quip about a toy truck leads to the tragic story of a mother and son struggling to cope with grief. Stories like that come out of nowhere, hit you in the face, and while you’re trying to understand what just happened, Harold will tell you about the time he wanted to set a fish free from a fish tank and it ended up drying up in his pocket.
Out of left field
The paragraphs above cover what the game is about. You interview Harold, try to discover how he managed to spend all of his life secluded in his room, and end up knee deep in stories about grief and abuse, only to get pulled out by off-colored jokes. How to cope with boredom and loneliness is extremely short and free to download on Steam. There is much more to discover than what I wrote about, and it’s overall a very good way to waste 20 minutes, whether it be for the jokes or the story.