It's always weird when someone who inspired you but you never personally met passes away. You feel this crushing blow, like someone jammed their fist at full velocity to your solar plexus and took all of the wind from you. There's that first tinge of "this is unbelievable," and in Ryan's case particularly, it's going to be hard to believe because he was a funnyman, prankster, and always finding a way to troll someone.
This is no troll. It's reality.
Upon hearing the news of Ryan's passing, there was this sense of profound sadness, and my friends said "why are you crying about this?" I didn't expect any of them to understand, and I don't honestly expect any of you to understand either. However, if it wasn't for Ryan and the crew, I wouldn't be where I am today.
I've said it a few times before, and whether people noticed or not is besides the point. I used to run an independent game site called BonusStage. My buddy John Pippin was writing at another site, but he freelanced at BonusStage. He knew how often I would sit around on Gamespot, soaking in all the content. He and I would sit around and talk about game reviews, and without fail, we would somehow always land on the same topic by the end of the night: how these guys over at Gamespot...Jeff, Ryan, Brad, Greg, Rich, Alex...were changing the way gaming journalism worked. When the opportunity to join BonusStage arose, I was quick to take it. My ultimate goal was to, maybe someday, work at Gamespot alongside these guys that inspired me to do this. Moreover, it was their enthusiasm for games that really made me love games far more than I did before.
Ryan, in particular, was someone that I found myself drawn to more than the rest. He was upfront and honest, brutal with his words but understanding of a situation. He was always the first to call out bullshit and put it all in proper perspective. He was someone who, if in any other body, people would hate and loathe. However, there was a sincerity, an honesty, a caring to him that made it all work. He was an asshole that people liked.
That last paragraph I wrote also describes me. It was refreshing to find someone who shared not only some of my personality traits, but also loved the same hobby. In turn, I started writing game reviews. I did that for about three years, but the world of independent gaming websites in an industry monolithed by giant sites like GameSpy, Gamespot, IGN, and multiple others didn't have much of a chance. It was shut down, and I had to figure out what was next for me.
Luckily, I had at one point interviewed the owners of a local LAN gaming center for an article on iGames-related gaming centers. I began frequenting the store as a regular customer. Shortly after a job I was working ended, those same guys that I interviewed asked if I wanted a full-time job with them.
I have remained at that job since that day. It's been seven years now. Within that time, Gerstmanngate happened, Arrow Pointing Down podcast happened, and Giant Bomb was born. These are things that I followed closely. Since Giant Bomb was created, I have felt at home here. It's a place where the community watches out for each other, the staff aren't just some faces that we know the names of, and in general, we're a family.
If it wasn't for Ryan, I wouldn't have started writing about games. If I hadn't written about games, I may not have gotten the job that I've had for the last seven years. If it wasn't for Ryan, I'd probably be stuck in a cubicle asking for medical records from doctors and hospitals, working a boring ass 9-5, and being unhappy in life.
His death is truly profound for me. I'm 31. I'm three years younger than he was. It's an eye-opening experience when someone close to your age dies.
Thank you, Ryan. Your confidence, charisma, sincerity, and jackassery will be so sorely missed by so many. Personally, thank you for showing me...beyond your gaming persona...that life is weird, so be weird in it.
My condolences to Anna, Jeff, Brad, Vinny, Alex, Drew, Dave, and all of those affected by this loss.
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