Last night I got a terrible call from Patrick that our friend Ryan Davis had passed away. I’m pretty heartbroken about this, I haven’t experienced the deaths of many people close to me and I haven’t met many people who were more full of life than Ryan.
I met Ryan a few years ago after he brought Cards Against Humanity to a Giant Bomb feature called Thursday Night Throwdown and crashed our website. Ryan and I quickly became friends online, and then in real life a few months later at PAX East.
Ryan and I both loved making trouble together, and as soon as we were told we weren’t supposed to do something, we delighted in egging each other on to do it. I have rarely had more fun in my entire life than when I was making trouble with Ryan. One time we flushed a pie down the toilet and then when people got mad we bought WhatsGoingInTheToilet.com to publicize the event.
When we met at PAX, Leo Laporte had just cancelled a gaming show on the TWiT network for playing Cards Against Humanity and news of that cancellation broke on the Giant Bomb forums. Of course by the end of the day I was on stage at the Giant Bomb PAX panel and Ryan and I were making fun of Leo Laporte to thousands of people. By the end of that weekend we were working on a Giant Bomb pack of Cards Against Humanity cards together.
As a critic, Ryan embodied that Roger Ebert quote, “It’s not what a movie is about, it’s how it is about it.” He was always finding redeeming qualities of games that I hated and convincing me to try new things. And when he got excited about a game, it was really something to see. If you’d like a pure 23 minutes of joy, watch Ryan playing Hotline Miami for the first time.
Ryan was one of the most gregarious people I have ever met, he knew everyone in the game industry, and beyond having a professional relationship, he was friends with them. I learned hanging out with Ryan who the decent, funny people were in this industry and became friends with them too. I think people loved Ryan because he had an incredible ability to see and talk through all of the bullshit at conventions and in everyday life. He was extremely funny, and one of the best people to play pranks on and conspire on pranks with.
Pretty much everyone who ever knew or listened to Ryan loved him for his sense of humor, but he was also an incredibly kind and confident guy. Ryan hosted several of our Cards Against Humanity panels at PAX. At the first one, we were waiting back stage going out of our minds with nerves (in particular I was sitting on the floor in the fetal position). Ryan gathered us up and put a huge sweaty arm around me and gave us a pep talk that I still think about when I have to do something scary. We killed that panel.
Today I’m mourning my friend Ryan, but I’m also mourning the relationship that my friends at Giant Bomb had together. When those five guys got together there was some special energy, and I will miss it so much. I’ll particularly miss the dynamic that Ryan had with Jeff Gerstmann. The two of them had a special comedy partnership that you really had to see to believe. I’ll never forget when I introduced Jeff and Ryan to our producer over drinks. She’s a pretty seasoned pro and works with celebrities and comedians all the time; after they left, she turned to me and said, “They’re good.” I feel so lucky to have had the chance to hang out with them, and we are all so much richer for the years of video and podcasts that they’ve shared with us. I wish I had told that to Ryan when I had the chance.
Finally just to cover my bases here - Ryan, if this whole thing is an elaborate payback prank I want you to know that you didn’t fool me for a second.