I was going to write a post on the history of the individual today. I had plans to set aside some time and fire off a decent length post that rambled here and there on the impossibility of what (good) historians are continually trying to do… But I’m not writing that post today. Ryan Davis, co-founder of the website Giantbomb.com and long-standing figure in the video games industry, has passed away.
I didn’t know Ryan Davis personally. Not that I shouldn’t feel sadness; when anyone passes away at the age of thirty-four, it’s only natural to feel sad. He just got married. From what I can gather, he and his wife had a phenomenal relationship: nerdy, loving, close in a way that is difficult to describe other than to compare it to your own closeness to your partner. I know these things, or have inferred these things, because Ryan shared a lot about himself on twitter, at least in jokes and comments thrown out into the public realm. I listened to him on multiple podcasts for years. I wasn’t always his biggest fan and I didn’t always agree with things he said. There were plenty of times, though, when he made me laugh or got me thinking about a game or a particular idea, or simply produced and hosted an entertaining podcast. He and I came from very different backgrounds, we became different people and we never met. Apart from our age being similar and our chosen hobby being the same, I’m not sure he and I had much in common at all.
But I am sad. Sad enough that it didn’t feel right to sit down and write a blog post today that talked about something else. Human life is lost all the time. Every day. Right now. There’s not enough time to mourn everyone. I loathe the odd circus that gathers around death in celebrity circles as much as anyone. This is different. Ryan Davis made his mark in a community that has grown dramatically in the last twenty years but has retained a certain insularity. Sometimes this leads to terrible things and sometimes it leads to wonderful things. A lot of people felt like they knew Ryan Davis. I have to confess, I never felt this way, but I let him into my life for a couple of hours every week for years. In the car, on the way to work, at the gym, in my home. Human life is lost all the time. That doesn’t mean we can’t stop and think about one human life that has been taken away. I won’t claim to be devastated by Ryan’s death because I’m not. All I can say is that I feel this terrible sadness; I know exactly what his friends and family are going through. They’ll receive countless messages of support and sympathy from across the world in the days and weeks ahead. I’m not in a position to offer any real solace. However, I can be honest to myself. We recently passed through an anniversary for a dear friend taken in the prime of his life only last year. I remember how that felt and I know how it feels now. I don’t know exactly how Ryan Davis’ close ones feel right now, but I have a sense of it. I share that sense of it, because although I never met the man and I complained about his opinions as much as I praised them, I understand that sense of loss. Although I can do nothing, I wish I could do something. I suppose I can at least think about him and give credit to the life he led and be thankful for the times he made me laugh. It’s no small thing, to make someone laugh. To create a personal connection with someone you’ve never met, no matter how small or fragile.
Ryan Davis is in my prayers and I hope that some small part of that intent, that energy, can contribute to the support that his family and friends need. I know, from what his friends are saying about him publicly today and from listening to the guy on podcasts for almost a decade, that he would probably think this post is a bit daft; but I wanted to show some gratitude for that tiny part he played in my life, and I hope that in some small way that contributes to comforting those that knew him best.