I very clearly remember the first time I saw Ryan on video with his goofy bleached hair and thinking "who's this jerk?"
Before Ryan, my first memories of what became Gamespot was when the site was nothing more than a dark green "coming soon" page at videogames.com. The concept of "internet personality" was pretty much non-existant. And then one day, some dudes on this site that I'd watch postage stamp sized .RMV clips of PS1 and N64 games started making different types of videos about this thing that I loved more than pretty much anything else. Not just recording videos of games, but videos of themselves talking about games or just being dumb for the fun of it. Ryan showed up some time into this experiment but really quickly found his place and start honing what eventually would become his trademark craft.
I'm pretty sure OnTheSpot was the first live show I made sure to "tune in" to on the internet and the Hot Spot was definitely the first videogame-related podcast I listened to every week. Oh how often those podcasts would be late, or a week skipped entirely. I would get so damn mad, it's unbelievable. Media on the internet was a whole different world back then, but Rich and Greg and all these dudes at Giantbomb we all love so much were there early, blazing the wobbly unsure trail that's lead to all this amazing smorgasbord of podcasts and video stuff that we now eat up all day every day.
Ryan was a huge part of all of our experiences in this crazy new world of global online communities and media becoming about real people, not fake personality constructs. And that's why it feels like we've lost a really good friend. Like not someone you just know, but someone you hung out with every day. I've lost three really close friends of mine before the age of 30 completely out of the blue with no chance to say goodbye, and this really weirdly feels like the same emptiness and disappointment in mourning not only the immediate loss, but the loss of what could have been. And I never even met the guy. There could have been another 60 years of Ryan Davis being a part of his family and friends lives, and if we were lucky, ours too. The thought is haunting and never really goes away, but when friends and family (and tens of thousands of strangers on the internet) honor their lost one by celebrating all the happy thoughts and accomplishments they gave us, the sadness does go away and is wholesale replaced with nothing but enduring, funny, fond, wonderful memories.