By Gamer_152 18 Comments
I feel unsatisfied with myself because a lot of the things I want to write here are the worn and obvious clichés about death; nothing we can say can make this okay, it’s all very sudden, it doesn’t seem real, I keep waiting to see the guy pop up alive and well tomorrow, etc., etc. They’re clichés for a reason though. I think there’s been a voice in many of our heads telling us that we don’t deserve to be this upset because we didn’t know Ryan as a personal friend. In fact in the past I’ve even seen people in the community try to invalidate the deep appreciation many of us have for the staff by telling us “They’re just a bunch of normal guys”. These are the same kind of people who try to shut down serious conversations about video games by telling us “They’re just games”. Fuck that mindset. We shouldn’t trade in our sincere passion for things and concern about people for a brand of 2Cool2Care apathy. Ryan was a human being like you and me, but he was a great one, and the fact that you could so easily see he was a real person like the rest of us was part of what made him so great.
I liked Ryan for a lot of the reasons I like the rest of the staff. Thinking all the way back to the founding of this website, I’ll always have a huge respect for him and the other guys who made their exodus from Gamespot in the wake of Jeff’s firing, and as a co-founder of the site, Ryan started something amazing. The Giant Bomb staff are a group of people who are funny, talented, well-connected, and know how to run a website. They’re the perfect package you want in your games press, and they are doing something different. There are a lot of places out there that have gotten into the cycle of printing every press release that comes their way, that are kept alive by being plastered with tasteless advertisements, and that have so many scripted videos and flashy virtual sets that you don’t feel like you’re being spoken to by actual people. In starting and running Giant Bomb, Ryan, Jeff, and the rest of the staff have created a site that escaped these common problems of video game websites, as well as many others.
Giant Bomb has managed to be this haven of incredibly dumb and amusing shit, and yet at the same time been hugely informative and had a very human and humble face. I think that describes exactly what Ryan brought us as well, and I think it’s why even in a tragic time like this, a lot of Ryan’s work on the site can still bring us plenty of smiles and laughter. He provided much of the fuel for both the genuinely enthused discussions about video games among the staff, and the surreal musings on barbecues, hummingbird masks, space ponchos, Koffings, Riff Raff, Bait Car, and more. On top of this, he always seemed like such a warm and friendly guy. Certainly, this is how he is being remembered in the writings of those who knew him personally. Like many of the other Giant Bomb staff, it was his ability to project his wonderful personality that has made us grow so attached to him, and is a large part of why it’s hard to know he’s no longer with us.
Because he seemed like a friend to all of us, and because he’s worked for a website that has spent the majority of its time creating content out of various different basements, it’s also easy to forget just how important a force Ryan was in games coverage, but the signs are there. The outpouring of support from games journalists, their outlets, and the gaming community has been amazing to see, and Ryan’s name even popped up as one of Twitter’s top worldwide trending topics for a time. I never thought I’d see that. As both part of Gamespot’s iconic old guard, and as an integral piece in this self-stylised explosives-themed gaming website, Ryan has been a fantastic writer and presenter.
His absence is going to create a particularly noticeable gap in future content because for the live shows and podcasts, he was our helmsman. He was the guy who was there to steer us into the madness of TNT and Unprofessional Fridays, to tell us that it was Tuesday and we were listening to the Giant Bombcast, and to lead the charge as an enormous pie was flushed down the toilet. When you’re this close to the site, watching and listening to the content being released every few days, the staff become almost like a weird extended family, and Ryan was the father of that family. His experienced and comfortable approach to what he did almost tricked us into forgetting that in relative terms, Ryan wasn’t that old of a man, and as with anyone who dies young, the really heart-breaking thing is knowing everything Ryan won’t get to do that he deeply deserved to. It’s not my place to talk about his personal life too much, but I think we all know that perhaps the saddest part of this is that he won’t get to grow old with his friends, his family, and his new wife, and that is a real tragedy. My heart goes out to all those people because I can’t imagine what they must be feeling right now.
On a more professional level, Ryan won’t get to see the next generation of consoles and games for which he obviously had so much love, and he won’t get to see where the website he founded goes in the coming years. I think we always had this vision of him, Jeff, Brad, Vinny, and the rest growing older with the site and covering video games well into the future. That’s no longer going to happen, and the thought of a Giant Bomb without Ryan Davis is an utterly bizarre one. We all know that the sad fact is we will never be able to replace him. However, nothing will be able to take away the joy that Ryan has given us, and the effect that he’s had on this and other sites over the years. Naturally, the first place many of us turned when we heard the news was to the countless hours of excellent content that Ryan has been a part of, and though he may no longer be with us, he lives on in the website he's left behind. I’m honoured to be at least a small part of that site, and I’d like to end this with a quote from the man himself back in 2008, speaking about Giant Bomb at the time of its founding:
"We're still just four guys, and we still feel that there's plenty of places to get 'coverage' out there. Our focus will be on commentary and perspective on the significant goings-on in video games. And, you know, fun! We don't want to run sales numbers stories. There's enough business out there in the game press, everyone trying to be Serious Journalists. I've got big respect for the way guys like N'gai and Totilo carry themselves, but no... I'd rather do stuff that makes me laugh... I'll be honest, I wasn't 100% sure this was going to work before we launched, but the response we've gotten so far has been so overwhelming, I'm confident that we're doing something that no one else really is."
Goodbye Ryan, you're already missed.