The death of a great man and my love for a gaming website

As a longtime and faithful reader (viewer?) of Giant Bomb, I was struck pretty hard Monday when news of Ryan Davis’ death was made public.  It came completely out of nowhere—no warning signs, no recent illnesses, no bouts of depression.  He was the face of Giant Bomb for many, taking the reins for their podcasts and live events and otherwise just being an affable guy.  Few people were so good at keeping things both funny and interesting; he always knew when a segment was dumb in a way that was worth milking for laughs and when it was just time to move on.  If you’ve seen any Giant Bomb content, you know exactly what I mean (and if you haven’t, go do so now!  it’s fantastic!).  He will be missed by all.

While this news is important and distressing, it’s not really why I sat down to write this post.  I was much more interested in my immediate reaction to the news when I read it after waking up Monday afternoon.  For a few minutes, I just couldn’t believe it.  It seemed like some kind of cruel joke.  Slowly, it all fell into place.  I started to realize why all the guys from the site, usually pretty busy Tweeters, had been so quiet all holiday weekend.  Ryan, in particular, was uncharacteristically quiet, but since he had just been married (what a heartbreaking thing that note is as well), I thought he was just too busy having fun to post (although this is extremely out of character as well, in hindsight).

I started to read various posts on the site itself and linked blogs on Twitter from various individuals making note of why they loved Ryan and how much they would miss him.  Startlingly, I found myself in tears.  Know that I am a person who is often quite devoid of compassion and sympathy for those I don’t know very well and that tears almost never fall from my eyes.  I have also never had to deal with a death of someone even remotely close to me.  Even still, the news of this man’s death, a personality on a gaming website I frequent, nothing more, had me biting back sobs for a good twenty or thirty minutes.

It’s an interesting world we live in now, where we can know someone, or at least feel we know someone, who writes on the Internet so well.  With Giant Bomb, the connection is even stronger, due to the site’s staff being so personable and open in their various videos and also very willing to share personal details outside of the site.  Several of the staff has Tumblr blogs where they answer almost any questions, even stupid ones you would never expect to be answered.  I follow all of them on Twitter and learn tons of stupid, personal stuff about them I really don’t need to know—but I like knowing it.  It gives me a connection to them, a connection that is entirely one-sided but is still one of the most important ones in my life.  They are a unique kind of friend, a constant source of amusement and enjoyment that has kept me coming back for several years.

If you had asked me before all this happened how the sudden death of one of these strangers would affect me, I never would have guessed I would be brought to tears by it.  Giant Bomb has become a permanent fixture in my life, a site I visit a few dozen times a day and consume every last scrap of content from.  I have heard more of their voices then anyone else’s except my close family.  As someone with few friends, I am closer to them than most of the people I have actually met in person.  Even with all of these reasons, I learned something about myself when the tears poured down my face.  It’s a shocking thing to realize, but these people are extremely important to me in several ways.

It’s still not something I can explain very well.  I feel like my words above have gotten the gist of my feelings across, why the death of someone like Ryan Davis, someone I  had never met and who didn’t ever know I existed, could affect me so strongly.  Thankfully, it seems that Giant Bomb will be continuing on at some indeterminate point in the future.  I now know that it is one of the most important parts of my life, featuring some of my favorite people in the entire world.  It may be slightly selfish to wish for that old magic to return only a month or two down the line, but I can’t help myself for feeling that way.  I feel that the only real way to move on from this tragedy is to slowly get things back on track to some semblance of normality.  It will truly never be the same, but an attempt at least must be made.  The loss of Ryan Davis is profound, but I feel like the loss of Giant Bomb might be even worse.

Thank you Ryan Davis for bringing us thousands of hours of unbelievably raucous, filthy, and interesting content through Giant Bomb’s various Quick Looks, Bombcasts, and live shows.  And thank you for teaching me something about myself.

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