I think whether they realized it or not, most people who write about video games kind of wanted to be Ryan Davis.
I know I did. Ryan was that rare voice that was able to be brutally critical and frank and funny, and still be well-liked by basically everybody. How could anybody walk the line that well?
I was a fan for years before I started writing about games, and I guess I thought that eventually I'd understand the secret magic he had, I'd find out that it was really two people when the lady was being sawed in half, so maybe the trick wasn't so impressive all along.
This, as it turned out, was not the case.
That didn't stop me from using Ryan as a metric of success, of course. When I saw that he had retweeted something I'd said, it was some of the best validation I ever got. When he had me on the Giant Bombcast that first time, it was the first time I believed I was truly, genuinely, 100 percent successful in my career.
Work aside, he was one of the warmest, kindest people I ever had the pleasure of meeting. You can't really know anybody's heart, but I honestly think that he liked me, which, much more than validating me as a writer or whatever, made me feel like I was a good person, worthwhile.
You ever get that feeling when you go out on a weekend, say, and you worry that whatever you're doing, you might be missing something better, more epic somewhere else? Being around Ryan had the exact opposite effect. If you were with him, you were at the cool kids' table. Something amazing, or at least really, really dumb, was going to happen, and you knew you'd get to be around for it.
If you can tell me how you replace someone like that, someone who's capable of filling a room with that kind of energy, I'm all ears, because at this precise moment I don't have a solitary clue.
Keep in mind, I could count on one hand the number of times I met Ryan in person, and this is the crater he left on me. I cannot fathom the pain that those who knew him so much better than me are going through right now, and my heart is with them, for whatever that's worth.
If Ryan was reading this, he would have already busted my chops about how I had managed to make this piece not only maudlin but somehow about myself, and that makes me miss him so much, makes me so bottom-of-my-core sad that I want to throw up.
If there's a better compliment I can pay to the guy than the fact that I even miss him picking on me, I'm not sure what it is.
I've been doing this for years now, and with every word I've written or said, I've become more convinced that it turns out I was right about one thing: The trick was a simple one. The secret to being as good as Ryan Davis was just this: Be Ryan Davis. Not a stunt that me or anybody else can pull off, but I'm honored I got to see it in person.
Farewell, King of the Summerjams, may your enduring legacy, the greatest playlist ever compiled on this blue globe, sing thee to thy rest.