Ryan Davis didn't set out to be a celebrity, but his way with words and larger-than-life personality made him an Internet star, with fans from all corners of the globe.
Davis, a nearly lifelong Petaluma resident, was one of the most recognizable figures at video game website Giant Bomb. He died unexpectedly at home July 3, provoking an outpouring of grief and love from fans of his video-based reviews and his free-form weekly podcast, a rambling three-hour chat with his friends and business partners at the site.
“He was quick to make fun of people,” recalled Giant Bomb founder and longtime friend Jeff Gerstmann of Petaluma. “But if you hung in with him a second or two longer, you'd see it was all out of love with him.”
The family did not release the cause of death, but father Richard Davis said it was sudden but peaceful and was from natural causes.
Less than a week earlier, he had married his longtime girlfriend, Anna, and the couple was planning a cross-country train trip as a honeymoon, a trip they never got to take.
“He was kind and generous and clever,” she recalled a week after her new husband's death. “He could certainly be an ass at times — and he knew it. But it was always with the best of intentions.”
Davis was born June 4, 1979, in Los Alamitos, but moved with his parents to Petaluma as an infant. He graduated from the Nonesuch School in Sebastopol.
As a child, Davis showed a fascination and talent with computers, and he was fond of video games, his father said.
“We could never get him away from his Game Boy,” Nintendo's handheld game system that was popular in the 1990s, his father said.
After high school, Davis worked tech support jobs in San Francisco until being recruited by Gerstmann to the fledgling Gamespot website, a popular video gaming-related site. He started on the technical side, but quickly moved on to writing news items and reviews.