PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Thanks to Ryan Davis, Senior Editor at Giant Bomb

Image of Ryan Davis from Kotaku

A tribute to a friend that never knew me.

My only two-way interaction with Ryan Davis was at E3 2012. He was finishing up taking the picture you see here. I clapped him on the shoulder as one would do with a long-time colleague and said, "Hey Ryan, I love Giant Bomb. You all do a great job," or something similarly banal. To his credit, despite the long days, miles of walking, and the mixture of tedium and chaos that defines the conference, he responded with a quick thanks as we continued walking past each other to respective appointments. Looking back on it, the shoulder clap may have been presumptuous since we didn't actually know each other.

It came from an honest place though. Since 2008, I've listened to and watched literally hundreds of hours of his podcasts and videos on Giant Bomb. Following Ryan and the rest of the crew was a staple of my week. No matter how bad things were, I knew there would be at least a couple hours a week when I could listen to them virtually shoot the shit about video games and whatever else struck the crew's fancy (their unexpected Star Trek-related tangents were always fun). Strange as it is to think about, I most certainly heard more of Ryan's voice on an average week than the voices of most of my family members. It's the weird thing about our modern media landscape; the Internet has made it possible to feel like you know someone even if you've never met.

Ryan passed away on July 3, 2013. How do you pay tribute when one of these strange types of friends dies? Since I can't help others get to know him, I figure the best way to honor him is to share his influence on me.

The simplest way to put it is that Ryan seemed like a person on the Internet, rather than an "Internet personality." I suppose I can never be completely certain that it wasn't all some elaborate act, but if it was, it was a damn good act. When it came to video games, his enthusiasm was refreshing. His sarcasm and wit could be cutting, but they were tools employed judiciously, rather than as indiscriminate snark fire hoses. He was a constant reminder that in an industry that vacillates between hyperbolic extremes on a weekly basis you could still take it upon yourself to operate on an even keel. If you like something or hate something, say it plainly and without pretension. If you mess up, apologize and do better next time. Above all, try to enjoy yourself and the people around you.

This last part was always apparent. Whether it was shooting the shit with the regular crew or corralling a wild (perhaps slightly tipsy) groups of journalists and developers on a podcast, Ryan had a way of making the conversation sound natural. Some of the best video game discussion, analysis, and interviewing I've ever listened to has come from shows he piloted. He had a talent for getting people to converse, rather than trade talking points. He knew when to step back, let a show breathe, and see what develops when people have some space to fill. He proved time and time again that conversations about games could be dumb, hilarious, and insightful all at the same time. It's something I try to remember every week when I sit down to record with Jorge. Our "serious, but not humorless" credo over on our own Experience Points podcast owes a big debt to Ryan and his work at Giant Bomb.

The fact that I know Ryan enjoyed black velvet paintings, collected laser discs, and was in the process of creating the definitive "Summer Jam" playlist made him more than a talking head who made noise about video games. He was someone I could appreciate as a complete person who happened to share some of my interests. He seemed genuine and welcoming, as if I could someday introduce myself and we would simply pick up as if we were longtime friends. This "what you see is what you get" approach to representing yourself on the Internet is something I try to live up to every day. Whenever I get an email from a reader or listener who sounds like they are writing to a good friend, I know the approach is working.

The world is worse off with him gone, and I'm going to miss him. As Shawn from Gamers with Jobs said, "I'm a friend he never knew he had". No doubt he's leaving behind many others that feel similarly. Thankfully, he's also leaving behind a blueprint. Maybe if I can be as honest, approachable, and passionate as Ryan, I too can be a friend to as many people as he was, even if I never meet all of them.

Thanks for everything, Ryan.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.


Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.


Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.


Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".


John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.


The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.


Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.


In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.


Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.


The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.