I love video games. Ever since I was a kid, and I first got the hang of Super Mario Bros on the NES, I was hooked on video games. I was a much different person back then; I was athletic, played a ton of sports, and was very outgoing, on top of me playing Mario, Captain Skyhawk, Kirby and other titles that make up some of my fondest childhood memories. I memorized all the puzzles in Concentration, so I could actually guess the puzzle often by just taking away two tiles.
As I got older though, I changed a lot. My teenage years saw me playing more and more games, especially once I got a job, and my own income. Then I was able to purchase titles myself. I started hanging out with more people who also liked games like I did; more than the curiosity most saw them with back then, more than a child’s toy my parents, and no doubt countless other parents saw them as. We saw games as a passion, as something, even as we entered a sort of proto-adulthood, started worrying about college, dating, starting to drive, we came back to games.
I watched my friends, twins play Final Fantasy V long before it came to America. They had this translation guide, it was this fucking huge binder, that they would use to get what was going on, and what the menus meant. I got emotional when Aerith died in Final Fantasy VII, I sweat bullets while getting the hell out of Raccoon City in Resident Evil 2. Back then, games were just games, as much as my passion for them kept going. I never thought to do anything more with them, not hold them up as art, not design any, nor write about them, at least in a way for others to read.
College came and went, and I realized I would rather be in my dorm, playing Suikoden V then going to class, so often that’s what I did. I ended up limping through my degree, with a Bachelor’s in History that I didn’t even want to use anymore. Suikoden V may have contributed to that.
Now let’s fast forward to more recent times. I still play video games. I have since started writing on this blog, and blogs before, trying to get people to see and for some reason take in the idiotic words I write. For as much as I loved video games, and loved to write about video games, I had never taken the whole culture of video game journalism as seriously as I should have.
I read a few sites, followed a bunch of comics, but never actively searched out more. I always should have, but I was always lazy, with this thing I supposedly loved, pretty much par for the course with me. I only stuck to a few sites I knew, and sometimes new ones would catch my attention and I would read those.
Well it’s taken 500 words, but let’s get to something resembling the point. I only started reading Giant Bomb recently. Maybe a year ago, maybe less. Pretty much the second I read their writing and listened to the podcast, I was immediately full of regret for not doing this earlier. Not getting in on the ground floor. Of course I knew Jeff Gerstmann got fired from Gamespot, everyone who liked games knew that.
What I regret is missing out on some of the most honest, not-caring about outside factors games journalism out there. That crew would never be afraid to say a high-profile game sucks, nor were they afraid to make friends in the industry, getting tight to a point where other journalism outlets would be uncomfortable. But at the heart of it all is that amazing group of people who write words and talk, and put up videos for the great site. Giant Bomb, since the inception has seemed to have incredibly little turnover. No one has really left, even those who moved away like Alex Navarro and Patrick Klepick still work for Giant Bomb, they simply alter their normal work-life accordingly.
Ryan Davis however, was there since the start. I have gone back to the archive of Giant Bomb, listened to the old Arrow Pointing Down podcasts, and when the name Bombcast was first coined. He was this energy drink-swilling guy who despite leaving a company in protest for the shitty treatment of one of their employees, still obviously loved his field, his job and what he reported on.
I never had the pleasure of meeting him personally, only seeing him in person at the PAX East 2013 Giant Bomb panel. But it was obvious from hearing his constant enthusiasm, his common-place laughter, and seeing what he brought to the site that he was a man, who despite seeing the worst his field had to offer, loved his job, and loved video games. That is the part that gets me. All too often, I find myself getting burned out, even in this amateur space, thinking I have to play something, or I should be doing this or that.
Ryan was a professional who it seems lived the maxim, “If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.” No matter how tiring or hectic things got, he participated in content, kept everyone focused, and helped ensure a great time was had by all, both people participating in whatever was happening, and people viewing/listening to it. His death, at the incredibly young age of 34 is truly a shocking blow to a field of journalism I have come to love very dearly, and this field as a whole will never fully recover from losing such a great contributor. All the more saddening, even more than his age, is the fact Ryan was recently married, mere days before his death. I cannot imagine the hurt his new wife feels at his passing, nor the rest of his family. All I can do though, as someone who writes about video games in this very amateur sense, is try to take some lessons from the type of person Ryan Davis was when it came to his work.
We never know when we are going to go. Our time on this planet, this great, beautiful, scary, hectic and wonderful place where our family and friends reside is very limited. For some, much more limited than others. However, in the time we have, we truly owe it to ourselves to do what it is we want to do, whatever it may be. For the people reading this, the vast majority no doubt find some sort of fun, love and/or comfort in playing video games. Others, like me, playing and writing about them, or shooting video, whatever. However, and others may have this problem; I am lazy, and get down on myself, and get burnt out on what I think I should be doing. I don’t want to do that anymore. Even if I am not a professional like Ryan was, I still want to be able to exhibit joy in what I do, in what I plan on doing, and be constantly proud of what comes of that desire. Ryan has been there with Jeff on Giant Bomb since the start, and I hope that everything that led him to his final moments, he was able to be proud of. A recently married man, who was able to make his living by actually doing something he loved, with great people all around him. That is a life to truly aspire to, and while he was taken from this Earth way too early, I hope we can all take a lesson from a guy who drank anonymous breast milk for two hundred dollars on a stage in Boston.