A Friend I Never Got To Meet

I'm not exactly sure how my first interaction with Ryan Davis went online, but most likely, it ended with him sending me the response "BLOCKED". Ryan loved a good joke, and loved the interactions of those involved in said joke. He was always happy, and by his own admission, a guy that would read EVERY email sent to him.

I'm sitting here listening to the Saints Row 3 soundtrack, and remembering how dumb this game is. It makes me smile because I know that Ryan was such a huge fan of dumb shit, too. But let's back up a bit.

Five or so years ago I caught wind of, at the time, a huge controversy. Jeff Gerstmann was "forced to leave" GameSpot because of some salacious comments he made in a review about a game called "Kane and Lynch". I used to be a big reader of GameSpot, and it was THE place I went for my video game information. Somewhere though, I stopped reading it. It wasn't anything on their end, just something I didn't do anymore. But "Gerstmann-Gate" caught my eye. Reading the story, and what I thought were the facts, I decided to follow his story further.

I signed up to be a founding member of the unknown and untested site "Giant Bomb". It sounded stupid, but for all the right reason. Also, they had a picture of the "WOPR" on the site. At the time, it was just a "blog" and nothing more. I was on the waiting list to get first access to the official launch. Sure, why not. In 2008 the day after my birthday (July 21st) I was allowed to access the site. It was the gateway drug I never knew I needed.

Jeff brought with him from GameSpot a couple of dudes to help him start this thing up. One of them was a man named Ryan Davis. I started listening to their podcast called "Arrow Pointing Down". It was two dudes talking about energy drinks, gangsta rap, other dumb shit, and a bit of video games. I should have turned it off disappointed and found something else. However, the cast drew me in by being more genuine about everything, including video games. It was like sitting in on a conversation with a couple friends. This is were it all started with me.

Because of what Ryan and Jeff started with Giant Bomb, I was able to get enough courage together to start my own podcast, as well as start reviewing games. I didn't just want to review games, I wanted to put my own humor and attitude into those reviews. I wanted to do exactly what they had done. I wanted to be myself in the face of reviewers and sites that did things for "clicks" and "hits". Giant Bomb never really did anything to be popular, they did what they did because they WANTED to.

Ryan was a great person, though I never met him before, I felt like if I had the chance, he would have treated me like someone he had known all his life. Interactions heard (or seen) on the Bombcast only led me to realize Ryan, Jeff and the rest of the Giant Bomb crew were not only great friends, but treated everyone outside as friends as well.

Finding out Ryan had passed this morning was like finding out that my best friend was gone. Much like my cat that died the day after Ryan (what a week), the bombcast, and by association Ryan, were always there when I needed some cheering up, and some company. I always knew that when I was bored, lonely, or just depressed, I could watch a Quick Look or listen to an old Bombcast for a smile.

I'm saddened by the fact that Ryan is gone for so many reasons. He was so excited for the coming console releases, and I was excited to hear his take on all the dumb shit that Sony and Microsoft were going to do. He won't get to play anymore of the horrible games that he forced himself to play for OUR amusement. He'll never get to see if the Vita or the WiiU will ever be a viable purchase for anyone outside "the industry".

This is, of course, the trivial stuff, not the things that matter to real life. Like the fact that he had just gotten married to the love of his life, Anna. The fact that they had barely begun life as a family unit. I never got to hear him say "My wife, Anna." on the Bombcast. His family now has a huge hole where a big, generous, sometimes sweaty man used to be. All the people that he worked with regularly at Giant Bomb that had become family. The (most likely) legions of fans that will never get to hear or see him again. The ones that didn't get a big sweaty hug from Ryan at a con. The people that will never truly know what it was like to see Ryan "perform" during a Big Live Live Show Live. We all feel a bit empty now that he is gone.

No, I never got to meet Ryan. I never got to buy him that drink I always wanted to. I'll never get to meet someone that I idolized. Ryan Davis was almost exactly a year younger than me. This past week he passed away suddenly and the void he leaves will never be filled, for myself and many, many others. Ryan was as quick to give out a middle finger in jest, and quicker to help a person out. He was the king of the driveway, a summerjam scholar, and an (almost) oppressive force of positivity in a field full of cynics and pessimists. He will be truly missed. This weekend I look forward to getting hammered on Bourbon. Highball glass, one ice cube. Cheers, buddy. Though I never met you in person, you have touched my life in ways you will never know, and I miss you like crazy.

My last interaction with Ryan was the week before his wedding, and honestly, it couldn't be a much better way to remember him.

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