By Nonentity 0 Comments
Reposting this from Facebook because it's important to me.
This isn't going to be one of my normal lighthearted posts, and for that, I apologize. This will probably end up being rambling, emotional, personal and on a very specific topic, but I figured I've probably bought myself at least one of these.
Today I learned that someone who was very important to me died over the long weekend. It wasn't someone who I knew very well at all, as a matter of fact I had only met this person a few times, both very briefly. It was a man by the name of Ryan Davis.
In the past, I never really understood how the death of a celebrity could have affected someone emotionally, but now I see that sometimes it hits about as close to home as I can possibly imagine. He had just been married a week prior and was on his honeymoon, passing away at age 34.
For the quick history lesson, Ryan Davis was one of the folks on staff at the video game website Giant Bomb. It's a very small site run by just a handful of people, focusing mainly on video content and a lengthy weekly podcast. It was ready apparent to me, however, that it wasn't really a site about video games. That was just a thing that happened to be a shared interest.
This was a website run by a group of friends who had managed to make it their life. All of these guys have been in the game journalism for over a decade and had managed to finally make a site where they could be themselves and talk about what they wanted about, and the passionate community that they fostered could not be more supportive.
Over the years, since they as a group have been making content (even before Giant Bomb, they were together creating content as part of the website Gamespot), there has been hundreds and hundreds of hours of podcasts alone (over 700 hours), let alone the piles and piles of video content. I would argue that over 25% of that content isn't even about video games at all, but just friends shooting the shit with one another.
Ryan was definitely the asshole of the bunch, but a good natured asshole. He was excited about everything and was always happy to meet new people. He had the type of attitude that indicated he was just wearing his heart on the sleeve, and those close to him have confirmed (and supported the notion) that he was the same person when not in the public eye. He could be harsh, but he did so with the intention of wanting to bring everyone up to the level of his exacting standards - and it worked. I'd say that of all the podcasts I listen to, I'd be hard pressed to count on one hand the groups of people who had chemistry that group of people had, and it came across as engaging, funny, and just legitimately forward people.
If you pay attention to any people for the better part of a decade, especially those that are friendly and commonly engage with their audience, it's hard not to feel like you know these people. Ryan (and the rest of the people at Giant Bomb) was always so enthusaistic to do anything live and make content for people. These people were (and are) entertainers who loved what they did, and loved their audience.
I rarely wear my heart on my sleeve on serious issues, and I tend to try and keep a happy face on regardless of anything else going on, but hearing about the death of Ryan Davis hit me like a knee to the stomach. I would not have predicted that I would have reacted the way I did to this news. I seriously haven't felt such a surge of emotions since the death of my own grandfather, if that speaks volume as to how much this person I only talked with briefly at E3 and PAX a few times has touched me.
And I'm not alone. His name has been a worldwide top trending topic on Twitter all day. The posts about his death have been on the front page of Reddit for hours and hours. All of his fans, and other artists like Jhonen Vazquez and Nolan North have come forth offereing condolences. I've read pages and pages of blog entries from close friends, coworkers and family, as well as all the reactions from other random people on the internet who have had their lives made better by his asshole attitude and wry grin. There was one particularly touching post I read from an older gentleman who was going through a lot of health problems who used the fun, upbeat podcasts from Giant Bomb as a way to help him power through his recovery process and start his days off.
But wow do I feel bad for the rest of the guys who run the site. I can't even begin to imagine the heartbreak that Jeff and the other members of the site are going through. If Ryan managed to make so many people legitimately happy and entertained, I can't imagine what he has done with the friendship he had with all those people for their whole lives.
So much of what Ryan meant to me is brought together by the amazing people he surrounded himself with. The back and forth and just pure, unadulterated joy they could create was immeasurable. I have been making a long commute for years, and being able to listen to Ryan and his friends shoot the shit every Tuesday for years (for free, mind you) is something that is just as therapeutic as anything else. Even if I was having a bad day, if I were able to listen to these guys and everything was okay again.
I guess I just needed to emotionally blow off some steam, since I've been holding it back all day since I heard the news. Every new person giving their heartfelt condolences, and people talking about how many amazing (and stupid) things he did just made me swell up with emotion. I can count the amount of times I've actually cried in the past 5-10 years on one hand, but I was finally able to have some relief writing this.
Ultimately though, he'd be so annoyed at all this sappy shit that everyone was writing. He loved stupid shit, he loved dark shit. He wasn't above a self-deprecating joke. He just wanted everyone to be happy and have a good time. So fuck this, and fuck Ryan Davis. I even have the T-shirt. So I'm gonna pay my dues the best way I know how - in the alley. This one's for you, Ryan.