RIP Ryan and some thoughts on being sad about someone I've never met.

I posted this originally on my blog so you duders can ignore the 'if you're not familiar with Giant Bomb' bit. Some of this stuff is probably pretty obvious to members of this community but I wanted to try to explain to people who aren't as involved and maybe wouldn't understand, why Ryan dying is such a bummer. Anyway...yeah.

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I didn’t know Ryan Davis. At the same time, I kinda did.

It’s a weird thing to genuinely feel affected by the passing of someone you’ve never met. It’s only happened a few times, the most recent being May of last year when Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch of the Beastie Boys died. The Beastie Boys were a large part of the soundtrack of my youth, through high school up until today and as much time as I spent with that band, it still surprised me how sad it made me when he died.

That happened again today when I, along with most other people, found out that Ryan Davis of Giant Bomb had passed away last week. For the unfamiliar, Giantbomb.com is a website about video games. It’s kind of singular though, in that it’s very much about the personalities involved and getting those personalities in front of a camera. That’s a trend that’s becoming more popular these days with big sites (Polygon.com) but Giant Bomb really pushed that idea from the beginning, combining a lot of video (much of which is completely stupid in the best way) with their podcast the Giant Bombcast as well as a written component to round things off.

The reason that information is important is the reason Ryan dying is such a bummer. I come across the Bombcast in March of 2010 and have listened to every episode since in addition to going back and marathoning the episodes I’d missed before that which, to this point, totals 350 episodes. The Bombcast isn’t short, it regularly passes the 3 hour mark so even at an average 2.5 hours an episode, that brings us to a grand total of 525 hours. 525 hours hanging out with Ryan and Jeff Gerstmann, Brad Shoemaker, Vinny Caravella and for the last little while Patrick Klepek.

The Bombcast was routinely the best part of my week, it meant for 3 hours on a Wednesday, I could not think about my crappy job and instead listen to 5 chuckleheads (thanks Ryan for that one) talk about everything from ways spiders can kill you, to Jeffs experiences with cops raiding his house, to Vinny’s adventures as a new dad, to Ryan narcing on stoners and also occasionally video games. That’s a long time to spend listening to someone. Added to that, the hours of video content that site puts out in which stupidity is frequent and games are played and personalities are put on display. All that time with the same group of dudes, it’s hard to not get to know those people. The best part is, they’re not actors playing a roll or trying present some cringe-worthy show to appeal to the ‘gamer demographic’ like you saw on a channel like G4, they’re just dudes who love games and have been in the business for a long time.

Ryan was the ringleader, he was the host. You started and ended every Bombcast and most video content with him, he was the guy who kept the train(wreck) running but despite that he was just as willing to indulge in stupidity as everyone else. He was great at getting laughs, frequently at others expense, but it never felt mean spirited, and maybe that’s why he had a rep for being the jerk of the group, but a jerk you couldn’t help but love. That personality extended onto Twitter and his interactions with various personalities in the industry.

The fact that I’m discussing Twitter is still super weird to me and the me from a few years ago would be rolling his eyes right now but you can’t deny what an impact social media has had on how we interact with each other. Twitter is this weird place where you can hang aroundthe cool kids, maybe even occasionally interact with them, but you’re still on the outside. The side effect of that, however, is you get greater insight into those personalities, regardless of whether they’re fabricated or sincere. With a guy like Ryan, it adds to a situation in where you get to ‘know’ the guy without ever getting to know him. Part of me thinks that’s super strange, but another part of me thinks its super cool. It was great today to see the outpouring of support to friends and family of Ryan’s, not only expressing how sad they were, but also talking about their favourite memories. He seemed like the type of guy who would rather people talk about the good things then dwell on the bad. Hopefully all that support is helping his close friends and family, especially his wife whom he had just married a week ago.

Ultimately, yeah, I didn’t know the guy. Never met him, only briefly interacted with him a few times on Twitter, but at the same time, in a weird way I did kinda know him. He made me laugh (a lot) and has made terrible work days better going on 3 years now, and there’s thousands of other people he did the same for. Sure I might not have been friends with him, but that doesn’t mean I’m not gonna miss him.

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