As we all well know, a dear friend to all gamers, Ryan Davis, recently passed away. Both Kenny and I were fans of his work and thought we might share a post, detailing our remorse for his demise.
I was in Edmonton International Airport when I was scrolling my Facebook feed on my phone, only to come across a Kotaku story that said “Ryan Davis,RIP” My heart sank like a rock.
I first knew of Ryan Davis when I started listening to the Giant Bombcast in late 2009. And what greeted me after the musical intro was a loud, booming and boisterous voice that greeted me with the words that had been a staple every week for the past 5 years, “Heeey everyone it’s Twooosday and you are listening to the Giant Bombcast, I’m your host Ryan Davis”. This greeting was just a very clear microcosm of Ryan’s personality, and what I feel became a significant cog in the Giant Bomb machine. Now I personally have never met Ryan in person. We have exchanged a couple of Twitter messages, but nothing beyond that. So mourning the passing of a video game personality that hosts a weekly podcast from California might seem a bit overboard to some when in fact it is more of a testament to how loved he was in the Giant Bomb community, and a testament to how much he engaged with the GB fans on a near daily basis.
Ryan was always honest and open in front of the camera or on the microphone, a currency that seems to be rarer and rarer as time goes on. Ryan, along with Jeff, Patrick, Vinny, and Brad, had pulled back the curtain on the games industry, and helped bring to the forefront, the men and women who put in the time to make the games we all enjoy and love. It ,in a way, both humanized the industry’s entertainment gatekeepers and ridiculed the industry follies that occasionally served as the giant whoopie cushion to which we all laughed at along with Ryan. The only difference is that Ryan laughed harder and louder than anyone else, because it was the dynamics that he fed off of, and then redirected that energy in other areas, mostly by his liberal use of cuss words and the throwing of the middle finger. What Ryan did best, was give equal time dedicated to games, and time for just random small talk about a whole host of subjects. The man’s depth and breadth of knowledge and trivia was astounding, and his ability to talk about almost anything and make it interesting, always made for fun listening. What made Ryan Davis, Ryan Davis, was that what you saw, heard, and read about him, was what you got. No bullshit, no games, just Ryan, and that was just one of many characteristics that helped people connect with him in a very real way.
In a sense, when Ryan Davis died, we all died to varying degrees, because he was all part of us in one form or another. There are many words to describe Ryan, Fun, loveable, honest, kind, happy, a prankster and loyal to the fucking bone. In whatever shape it comes in, we could all stand to be more like Ryan Davis. God clearly needed some laughter, joy and a lesson on what makes up a good bourbon. Rest In Peace good sir, we all miss you down here.
What can you say about a man who you have never met, have never talked to, and who does not know you exist? Not much, really. I can not tell you a personal story about how Ryan smiled slyly at me once or how he cracked a joke at my expense. I can’t tell you who he was at his best, and at his worse. And I have no idea if I had gotten the chance to talk to him, if he would have even liked me. What I can tell you is how, without ever meeting Ryan, what an impact he had on me as a editor, podcaster, and all around person.
Around three years ago I had just taken a new job that basically involved me packing things into boxes, and then shipping out said boxes. I had very little responsibility and after I fully memorized the product line, it found it very dull. I was already in the habit of listening to podcasts, Beyond and Comedy Death Ray (Now Comedy Bang Bang) were some of my staples. I happen to stumble upon the Bombcast and after initial “this ain’t games” shock wore off, I was an official fan.
For the next three years, podcasts would come and go. I would get bored of some, angry at others, and new ones would take their place. But one podcasts that I never, ever, missed was the Bombcast. The guys on that show melded together into a soothing mix of comedy, games, and a general laid back attitude that makes no one question their status at one of the top gaming podcasts. And at the center of that, was Ryan Davis.
Ryan had a way of pushing people along that was so subtle, you may have never noticed it. Despite his plethora of gaming knowledge, he very rarely took the spotlight on the Bombcast. Rather, he would deflect that light onto everyone else and let them shine. In this way he not only earned the respect of his colleagues, but also brought everyone around him to a higher level. He was the host, not the star, and he never flaunted his gaming prowess like so many gamers today, though he easily could have.
If you needed some evidence to prove that it was not just his co-hosts that made the Bombcast, then listen to any of the E3 episodes. There are several hours of audio where Ryan is sitting with near complete strangers, who are in turn sitting with other near complete strangers, yet somehow he makes it work. His overall talent for conversing with people, not just professionally but personally, is what attracted me so much towards his work. People just felt comfortable talking to him, and I felt comfortable listening.
It was this comfort that he gave me that inspired me to even try my hand at LevelSave. Ryan came across as just another guy who, with some perseverance and luck, happen to start one of the biggest gaming websites ever. Obviously it was not just perseverance and luck that got him where he was, it took years of hard work and natural talent to achieve that, but he never lost that everyman attitude. Life was silly and fun, and although most people lose sight of that in their age, Ryan did not. And because of that attitude, Ryan was able to achieve amazing things.
LevelSave is a constantly evolving and changing medium and one huge inspiration is Giant Bomb. We want to be more personal, more open, and more connected with you. While this is growing to become an industry standard, Giant Bomb was the pioneer. Getting faces and voices out there, relating to you as a person and not just a gamer. Ryan may not have been the sole reason for this personal push, but after listening to him for literally hundreds of hours, I believe it would not have happened without him. He changed the entire game world as we know it.
Because of all that, I want to thank you, Ryan Davis. Thank you for being jolly in the face of overwhelming cynicism. Thank you for being so hard working and never giving up. Thank you for showing us there is no such phrase as “it can’t be done.” And thank you for being so friendly and open that even without meeting you, I still call you a friend. Thank you for just being you, Ryan, you will be sorely missed.