How can I possibly eulogize a man I didn’t know? How could I honor the memory of a man who didn’t know I existed? Why do I still feel like I should try? Let’s take this step-by-step.
The first thing I should do is explain the circumstances. Ryan Davis, one of the founders of the video game news site, Giant Bomb, passed away suddenly on July 3. He had just gotten married and was on his honeymoon. The tragedy of this situation is lessened somewhat by the knowledge that Ryan must have passed away happily, having found the woman of his dreams and enjoying the height of his career doing what he loved most: playing, reviewing and talking about games.
The second thing I should do is tell you to stop reading this blog post, at least for a little while. Instead, you should read the articles linked below, because they do a better job than I ever could to show what kind of effect Ryan Davis had on the gaming industry, and more importantly, its people–ranging from developers, consumers, media and beyond.
- Giant Bomb
- Dave Snider’s Thoughts on Ryan
- Harmonix Video Tribute to Ryan
- Justin McElroy’s Thoughts on Ryan
The third thing I should do is tell you to go to YouTube and search for Ryan Davis and Giant Bomb. If you’ve never heard Ryan tell a story, do yourself a favor and listen to a random clip of him talking. He was an amazing storyteller. He made over a million fans feel like they were his buddies, having a beer and talking about arcade games with such detail, you could swear your feet were sticking to soda splattered floors, leaning against the dim glow of melodic pinball machines. Here’s a good start:
The fourth thing I should do is much harder. I want to explain why the death of a stranger has impacted me in such a profound way. Every week for the past several years, I have listened to the Giant Bombcast, Giant Bomb’s podcast discussing the news of the week, but usually devolving into arguments about 90’s hip-hop, energy drinks or vivid recollections of the absurd corporate-tainted press events that often define the video game industry.
When you spend so much time in your life listening to the same group of people talking so candidly about their lives and passions, you cannot help but feel connected with them. For years I have listened to Ryan and the rest of the Giant Bomb crew talk about games in a way anyone could understand. And honestly, even though Ryan didn’t know me, he still helped me, often in profound ways.
I’ve gone through a number of changes in the past several years. I’ve been in some relationships that are now former relationships. I’ve spent time in faraway places with only an iPod for company. I’ve worked hard to get in shape and bring my life together. And all the while, Ryan has been there, making me laugh and making me think. I still recall spending a lonely winter day in Beijing a few years ago. I was studying thousands of miles away from home. My Chinese was not very good so it was hard for me to express myself easily. And my girlfriend had just dumped me a month earlier. Sad times. I decided to take a late night walk to Houhai, a lake district with few people walking about for the chill in the air. As I walked, I felt profoundly lonely and missed my home very much. To cope, I popped in my ear buds and clicked play on a podcast I had just been introduced to:
And everything was OK. For the next two hours or so, I wandered, oblivious to the cold, smiling at Ryan’s endless banter. This stranger had brought me home.
When you try to talk about video games to people who don’t care, they cannot appreciate the impact games have on your life. Ryan’s view toward games reflected his passion, but also showed that a passion toward the medium does not equal an obsession. He was a man who loved life and never let games become something they’re not supposed to be: a burden.
This is why I want to talk about Ryan Davis and honor his memory in my own way. Maybe you don’t like video games. Maybe you do. Either way, you should remember Ryan Davis because he did something few have accomplished. He lived his life with passion and a sense of fun that infected everyone around him. Another member of the Giant Bomb staff, Drew Scanlon, said it best with this tweet: “Forget Disney, the general vicinity of Ryan Davis was always the Happiest Place on Earth. I wish I had the ability to share joy like he did.”
This leads me to the fifth thing I’d like you to do. Stop reading this. Do something fun and enjoy it. We only get one shot at this living thing, so we might as well make this shot count, right? Ryan may be gone from this world, but his memories live on in those of us lucky enough to have heard him speak and make us laugh. His honesty and spirit should be examples for us all, regardless of our opinion of games. We should be so lucky to live twice as long as him, and make half as many people happy.
Go on now. Stop reading! You’ve got a life to live!
Rest in Peace, Ryan. You made the world a better place through your laughter.