Thank You, Ryan

So the only time I met Ryan Davis in person, he gave me Giant Bomb stickers and told me to put them on cop cars. — Andy Keener (@reibeatall)

If you follow video game news, you probably already know it, but Ryan Davis of GiantBomb has died.

I never met the man personally, but many of the people who knew him have been writing amazing tributes that confirm my impressions of the man. You should read those because they’ll say it better than I can, but he was funny, loving, brilliant, and joyous.

When the news broke today, my twitter feed basically became an avalanche of grief and sorrow and disbelief and love. Ryan touched nearly everyone in the games industry one way or another, and not a single person seems to have disliked him.

Anyone who says technology pulls us further apart should check out Twitter today. What a sweet and strangely fitting mourning. — Ryan Letourneau (@NorthernlionLP)

I thought immediately of the thing that really made me respect and pay attention to the man. During a live stream a while back, he got frustrated and thoughtlessly used a slur; one that is all too common in games. The stream ended, and he immediately posted a full, frank, and heartfelt apology for it. He made a mistake and, rather than try to weasel his way out, he owned both it and his remorse.

Should I get this emotional about the death of someone I listened to in a podcast? — orenronen (@orenronen)

I spent a good chunk of this morning watching the outpouring on twitter, tears intermittently flowing. It feels pretty strange that the death of someone I’ve never met would have hit me so hard. But as I’ve reflected on this, I’ve realized it’s because I saw myself in Ryan. Or rather, I saw what I wanted to be. I mean, it’s natural that I’d identify with the fat bearded guy who writes about video games, given that I’m a fat bearded guy who used to want to do just that.

But more importantly, it was his personality. He had boundless enthusiasm and joy for… well, almost everything, it seems. And while his humor was often acerbic, it was always clearly done with genuine love and friendship. Moreover, he was always willing to turn it toward himself, having hundreds of bright pink “FUCK RYAN DAVIS” shirts made for GB fans.

When he picked on you it made you feel like the center of the universe, right? You know? Yeah. — Jenn Frank (@jennatar)

That’s something I try to be, but I often fail at. My sense of humor is often sarcastic and cutting, and I am rarely intentionally cruel… but far too often I am accidentally cruel. Worse, I can be cruel carelessly, without realizing I do it until the damage is done.

I started to write a tweet about how I wanted to be Ryan Davis when I grew up, and at that moment it struck me that he was 34. We’re the same age. I somehow always thought he was older than me; maybe because he was just more successful, but perhaps because he came across as a loving older brother, or a jovial uncle. I was struck by that realization, and the multitude of things I regretted doing, and so many that I regretted not doing. If I died today, I wouldn’t be happy with what I left behind.

The more I’m digging into the various Ryan Davis paraphernalia all over the internet, I’m finding it harder to be sad. He was pure joy. — Eric Pope (@MrPope)

I really do want to be Ryan Davis when I grow up. Not writing and broadcasting about video games, but I want to be the kind of person he was. That love, and joy, and confidence, and enthusiasm. My life hasn’t been about those things lately; it’s been mostly about regrets and self-recriminations and dwelling on the mysteries of what I could have done better. My life hasn’t been about those good things for a long time, really, and that’s got to change.

This is the lesson I’m trying to take from Ryan’s death. To accept and own my mistakes, but not let them consume me, instead focusing on joy. To stride confidently into life, rather than retreating from it. To share love for what is, instead of regret for what could have been. To capture even a fraction of his enthusiasm and energy.

I never met you, Ryan, but you were one of the best people I ever knew.