Today we learned that Ryan Davis, formerly of GameSpot and one of the founding members of Giant Bomb, died on July 3. Ryan was 34, and I met him only once while sitting at a bar in Boston at PAX East a few years ago. I remember not wanting to crowd him, or Jeff, Vinny, or Brad from Giant Bomb. They were surrounded by their fans, and though I was a fan, I was running a site of my own, and didn’t want to just come across as a fawning fanboy. If I was going to talk to them, I wanted to do it on a real person to person basis. So I hung back. I got a chance to have that real conversation with Jeff Green, another legend in game reviews. But I only really got to meet Ryan when he came up to the bar for a drink. I mentioned that the crowd wasn’t really giving him a chance to breath, and he nodded, sweating, and agreed. And that was it.
But I listened, like thousands of others, to the Bombsquad every week. When I moved down with my wife to DC, I was pretty much alone. My wife was travelling a lot that first month, and I decided that to have some kind of social familiarity, I would go back and listen to the Giant Bombcast from the beginning. That was almost a year ago, and I’ve been working my way back up to the present since then. I’ve passed the point where I started listening to them in real life, and am now repeating many of the shows that I heard the first time around. And I have often been haunted by the thought, “What happens if one of these guys dies?”
It may sound morbid, and perhaps it is. But I’m a theologian, and human death is one of the big questions on the table for us. For at least three hours a week, Ryan’s voice was present in my headphones, laughing about video games and making me laugh about them in return. I hear weekly Ryan’s, Jeff’s, Vinny’s, Brad’s, and Patrick’s voices more than almost any of my own friends, since most of them are very far away. A person I met only once has been a constant companion for years. I am not alone. Thousands of comments have flooded in to Giant Bomb stating disbelief, horror, and condolences. Ryan had been married on Jun 29. He was married for only four days.
And so there is a substantial hole left in thousands of lives today. Ryan was not a major celebrity, but he brought a seeming endless joy to thousands who listened to him, and watched him on Giant Bomb.
I don’t generally write about these things. I write about big things, big topics, big issues, or small things like video games or comic books. But I am compelled. I am a PhD student of Theology, a firm believer in the doctrines of Christianity, a writer, a software developer, and a husband. Today I am struck by how much the death of this man who reviewed video games affects me. Many people are. A voice we listened to is now silent and, for all most people know or think, it is silent forever. Ryan Davis is no more.
But we have hope. Not baseless or blind hope. Hope. This is not an abstract teaching, not a sermon or apologetic. Ryan Davis will rise once more on the last day and step into his inheritance. There will be merry meetings that day for those who mourn on this one. Many have posted “RIP” in the comments. I too hope Ryan rests in peace, but I add something more. Rise in joy, Ryan, to your Father’s kingdom. Every fear is cast away, and every hope, every far-fetched wish is true.
And this is what happens when someone dies. Sorrow, sadness, rejection, demands, bargaining. And then either the ringing silence of nothing…or a promise that as Lady Julian related, says, “All will be well, and all will be will, and all manner of things will be well.”
I end with an apology. Many, many people knew Ryan infinitely better than I could. I mean no offense by this post, only honor. May your grief be comforted, and your tears be wiped even as they fall. You all, and Ryan, will be in many prayers in the days to come.