I was in an airport waiting for a flight back home when I learned of Ryan Davis’s passing. My first instinct was that it was some sort of poorly thought out joke, and then the reality of it hit me like a knife. I stood up, leaving my sister to watch our luggage, and paced around the terminal, in a daze. I only knew of Ryan Davis for a year and a half, and never met him, but it is hard to overstate the effect he had on my writing in that time.
To me, Ryan Davis was a symbol of good-natured, welcoming journalism- he didn’t feel like a reporter reading off a piece of paper. He felt like a friend of yours who was filling you in. The sort of guy who always makes you feel welcome; quick to laugh and always on your side, even when he was disagreeing. It seems strange to talk about a man I’ve never met this way, but his content on Giant Bomb (and all the rest of the Bombers too) is so honest and open in a way that few other places are that you really get to know the man. There are no false fronts, it is just who they are, and Ryan Davis was and is a giant in this industry.
Ryan passed away at the age of 34, and up until his passing he was perhaps the most energetic and vibrant member of Giant Bomb’s staff. He showed me through his example that games journalism doesn’t just have to be about telling the news- you can be a friendly, intelligent, and even opinionated voice in this business, and as long as what you’re saying is interesting and smart, there is a place for you. There was no stiffness in Ryan Davis, in any part of his life, and I endeavor to be a fifth as friendly and charming in my writing as he was every time he started up the Giant Bombcast with a rousing “Hey everybody, it’s Tuuuuuesday!”
You are already missed, Mr. Davis. You are already mourned. But the real tragedy is for the people who never knew you- people who will get into this industry after your death, or who just never happened to listen to the Giant Bombcast. To them, seeing games journalism without you, they won’t even know that it’s just a little bit colder, just a little bit more serious. What you gave us cannot be replaced, and while I’m glad that Giant Bomb will truck on… it will never quite be the same. Rest in peace, Ryan Davis- for all the piece of mind you’ve given us.
Though I never met Ryan Davis in person, he played a major part in my life. From middle school to the present, I almost spent a decade listening to Brad Shoemaker, Vinny Caravella, Jeff Gerstmann and him discuss everything from new flavors of Gatorade to accidentally snitching on a nearby hotel guest over Twitter. Their frank, candid conversations gave me a level of familiarity seldom seen in any type of press. I knew of Ryan’s ironclad love for the obsolete Laserdisc format, learned “street smart” advice about Petaluma and other hotspots in California, and even found appreciation for the elusive “summer jam.” Sometimes it felt like I was doing something wrong by listening to almost-voyeuristic conversations about someone I had never met, but after a few years, he and the rest of the Giant Bomb crew felt like family.
It’s been one day since he passed away, and it still feels like some sick joke. He was like a ball of lightning that visibly energized everyone around him. The sheer level of grief pouring in from many corners of the Internet shows the fantastic impact he left on so many lives. Who knows how many careers he’s inspired or saved by simply expressing his passions? How much joy he brought to others through shaking fake babies or mocking a poorly-modeled Ron Weasley?
He was only 34, it was only days after his wedding, and it only happened to one of the best individuals on Earth. It’s tempting to obsess over the why’s and how’s (Why did this happen? How could this happen?), but there are no good answers, no closure from such questions. Instead, we should celebrate his memory. Watch him flush a banana cake down a toilet, listen to him laugh (his laugh was simply infectious) at a broken physics engine, and while you’re at it, throw on your “FUCK RYAN DAVIS” shirt. That’s the kind of joyous celebration that he would appreciate.