2 min read

The Parable of Feudal Japan

An extended metaphor that may or may not be applicable to the game industry.

Once upon a time in Japan, there was a Feudal Lord who employed many indentured servants. Working for the Feudal Lord was hard but he protected his servants from the roving bandit bands and gave each of them enough rice to survive.

Outside of the Feudal Lord's domain, there were many peasants. Life was hard for most of them but a few found success and became wealthy traders and merchants.

The Feudal Lord was capricious and the standards by which he judged his servants varied as the years went by. A servant who failed to meet his standards would be exiled from the Feudal Lord's domain and forced to fend for himself regardless of how many successes they may have had in their past. Some exiled servants later found success as merchants, but many perished to the wolves and roaming bandits.

However, the Feudal Lord was not entirely cruel. If a servant found favor with the Lord, he could be promoted to the station of Samurai. These Samurai could then swear their fealty to the Feudal Lord, find another lord or become their own masters as travelling Ronin.

Many of the Feudal Lord's servants sought their Lord's favor. Yes, the possibility of success was slim, but they were different. They would be the one to succeed where others had failed.

Then one of the indentured servants had an idea. Yes, people enjoyed rice but what about noodles? The Feudal Lord claimed that people only enjoyed rice, but hadn't people also enjoyed noodles before the Feudal Lord's day? Wasn't it possible that people would still enjoy noodles if given the opportunity?

The indentured servant was clever and had gained some popularity in a neighboring town outside the Feudal Lord's domain. He went to them with a proposition - band with me and once again we can enjoy a noodle-filled life! We do not need the protection of the Feudal Lord to be happy! Many peasants flocked to his banner for freedom and noodles and the promise of more noodles. In fact, a wealthy merchant even offered him his daughter's hand in marriage.

What will become of our no-longer-indentured servant? Will he attract other servants to follow in his footsteps? Will the feudal lord change his ways and improve the quality of life for his people? Will we see more peasants become successful merchants who then turn around and help others succeed as well? Time will tell.

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