By William Brierly
On July 3, Ryan Davis of the video game industry website Giant Bomb passed away. I didn't know him all that well, yet he had an incredible impact on my life. And judging by the amazing folks in the Giant Bomb community, I'm positive that I'm not the only person who had a similar experience with Ryan. The gaming world lost a great person this month. It was truly an honor to have met him, so I thought I'd share this story about my experience.
It was a Friday evening. I was just finishing up a late dinner when I started to notice an unusually large amount of traffic on the website for my game, Soda Drinker Pro.
Whenever someone downloads my game, they have the option to send me a little note. More than 250,000 folks have downloaded it so far, and I have read every single note. They’re often pretty funny, but on this particular night, they were really funny; like, really funny.
When I see a spike in traffic, it's usually because someone wrote about the game somewhere, or it's featured on a YouTube channel, or something along those lines. But this time, I couldn't see where it was coming from. Eventually, someone sent a note saying where they saw it: on Giant Bomb.
Giant Bomb isn't just a regular video game review and podcast site. It's one of those communities in the video game world that has something extra special about it that’s hard to put your finger on, a combination of really nice, funny, intelligent, and generally awesome.
That night, the folks at Giant Bomb were playing Soda Drinker Pro on a video series they do called “Unprofessional Fridays,” and as people were watching, they were also downloading the game. I always love seeing someone having fun with my game, but something about this night was extra fun. They really understood what it's all about, and their fans did, too.
Which brings me to one of my favorite aspects of the gaming world: all the different types of communities, organizations, media outlets, and everything else related to living and working in the games business. There are so many; the indie games subreddit, the Boston Unity Group, Pax, Boston Festival of Indie Games, Global Game Jam, Ludum Dare, Game Informer, to name a few, but I'm really glad I got to learn more about what was happening at Giant Bomb.
That night of Unprofessional Fridays was just a few months before the giant industry trade show Pax East in Boston, and I was psyched to have a Soda Drinker Pro booth there. It was incredible. I had the chance to meet so many people who I had only spoken to online. I did tons of interviews with some of my favorite outlets, met players of Soda Drinker, and got to hang out with some of the best game developers in the world. It was seriously a dream come true.
At Pax, a bunch of folks came up to me one morning saying the Giant Bomb folks mentioned my game during their panel. I was psyched! Later that afternoon, Ryan Davis and a crew from Giant Bomb came by my booth and we did what was easily the best interview I have ever experienced. Something about Ryan brought the best out of me. He was quick, funny, and super nice. When the Giant Bomb folks played my game online, and when they came to my booth, the vibe around me drastically changed.
While it was fun before, something about these experiences made it extra fun. Something overwhelmingly positive came from those folks. And when the video ended up on the front page of Giant Bomb, the response was incredible! The comments were hilarious, and just like last time, the sense of community was profound.
Games are about more than just what we play. They extend to the people we work and play with, and the context in which we enjoy creating and experiencing the games.
Fun isn't restricted to any geographic area or language. It's something we can all experience and enjoy, and when we experience it together, we learn more about our friends and expand our relationships. Whether you are jumping through portals, walking over pieces of burgers to drop them down a tower on to anthropomorphized eggs and pickles, or catching a ball in a wooden cup, we all have fun. It's even more fun when we experience it together.
Ryan and everyone at Giant Bomb helped to bring together people from all over the world. It wasn't just about games. My heart goes out to Ryan's family and everyone at Giant Bomb.
The State of Play blog, organized by MassDiGI, features posts by digital and video game industry insiders writing about creativity, innovation, research, and development in the Massachusetts digital entertainment and apps sectors. MassDiGI, based at Becker College, is a statewide center for academic cooperation, entrepreneurship, and economic development across the local games ecosystem. Follow along @Mass_DiGI
The author is solely responsible for the content.