Losing the Battle

Losing the Battle


When I started this channel 7 years ago, it took me about a month to put together every new video. It’s funny, ’cause even back then I couldn’t produce videos fast enough to keep up with the YouTube algorithm. The more things change, the more they stay the same, right? Now, obviously research and writing were a big hurdle in that, but the thing that took the most time was editing. I had no idea what I was doing. I was using the base video editor that came with my laptop at the time that had absolutely zero functionality and crashed literally every other day. I would lose just days worth of progress to a crash, a failed render, whatever. I couldn’t tell you a keyframe from a crop factor. I was literally stop-motion editing frame by frame, Pixel by pixel to get things moving across the screen, no exaggeration. Thousands of photoshop files with things just moved a pixel or two at a time. The long story short is that I wasn’t very good, and I wasn’t very fast; and I learned pretty early on that: if I wanted the channel to grow at all, that I needed to produce more videos faster. Enter Gaijin Goomba and Ronnie Oni Edwards, two of my fellow creators who had reached out for help earlier that year. Goomba wanted to find more people to watch his show ‘Gaijin Gamer’, to which I responded, ‘Hey, Goomba,’ ‘No one really knows or even understands how to spell Gaijin’, So thus, his show became ‘Game Exchange’ (now known as ‘Gaijin Goombah Media’). Ronnie, meanwhile, reached out to me after the third episode of Game Theory which was on Illusion of Gaia; Just because he was excited to talk to someone who was equally passionate about such an obscure SNES title. What was supposed to be an hour long interview ended up lasting three hours for this podcast that he had just started. Funny enough, that was actually my first ever interview as a YouTuber. Both guys were passionate about fusing education with gaming; just like I was with Game Theory, and I realized that the three of us working together had a better likelihood of helping us grow than if we were all working separately. So, I asked them to join the channel. To their credit, they said yes. They accepted my offer with little more than a handshake and a promise to deliver them their ad revenue at the end of every month. Times were different on YouTube back then. So with that, at a whopping 10,000 subscribers, Game Theory, transformed into ‘The Game Theorists.’ It became clear that Ronnie liked editing more than writing or hosting, and since, like I mentioned I sucked at editing, he just focused most of his time on editing for Game Theory. We called it the ‘editing dungeon’. His first episode was “The Cost of Minecraft Diamond Armor”, and I remember sitting there watching the first draft of that episode and finally for the first time seeing Game Theory in the way that I had always envisioned it looking… His experience and skill with animation and illustration was able to accomplish things that in two years of working on the series I had never been able to do! But finally, Game Theory was looking the way that I had always envisioned it looking. It was doing things that I had wanted to do and just didn’t have the skill to execute on. For the next five years Ronnie was our go-to editor. A silent hand behind a huge number of the videos that you’ve seen on this channel, on Film Theory, and all the other theorist channels. *Shuddering* That’s why it shatters my heart to tell you that on July 4th… Ronnie was found dead A victim of suicide.
[all resources can be found in the description] We found out two days later… We had been communicating about a project that he was editing on, he went silent for a couple of days, and so we went to his apartment to check up on him… only to be met with the coroner’s notice. *Sniff* The next day Stephanie and I were in the hospital about to have our first baby. As you can imagine, it was an emotional weekend, and it’s been an emotional roller coaster ever since. I’ve been wanting to do this video or say something for the last two weeks But we wanted to hold off on a memorial until we were able to contact his family and get their permission to do it. But, Ronnie had a really rocky relationship with his family. And so, we’ve had no luck, and now with news slowly starting to get out that something may be wrong- we had no choice. Ronnie, in all the years that I knew him, dealt with demons that only he could understand. Scars left by a childhood that he kept under a lock and key. Over the years he would give me glimpses as to what he had gone through, but I never had a complete picture. What I can say is that he did his best to move on; to strike out on his own, to move beyond the trauma of his past, To take his mental health into his own hands, and take his recovery seriously, one step at a time, every single day. That past also gave him a personality that was probably best described as… an acquired taste. He was incredibly sharp and incredibly witty, but he also had this ability to cut through a person’s facade in a way that was sometimes hilarious and sometimes a bit off-putting. Even after years of working with him, I would walk away from some conversations questioning whether I should be offended. Like, his sarcasm was so dry that there were times where it’s like, “Was he joking or is he mad at me?” “Should I be offended right now?” It was hard to tell sometimes. And it was that same personality that, understandably, sometimes got him into trouble with people who weren’t familiar with that part of him, who didn’t understand that that’s the way he processed the world, that that was the way he dealt with social situations, that he was a person with dark periods who had a tendency to sometimes lash out with anger. And to anyone who saw that side of him, I am sorry. It wasn’t an easy side to deal with, but that wasn’t Ronnie. Ronnie wasn’t an arrogant person, he was just socially unsure. He was unaware of how his behaviors would be perceived by others. And sorry that so few of you got to see the true Ronnie, Ronnie as he really was. The one who gave me a hug at the end of our Gamelab episode together. The one who took pride in his obscure internet trivia. The one who relished in every new dig that he would come up with for Gaijin Goomba. The one, the one who would be so- Those moments were the true Ronnie. When he was unburdened by his past. When sunlight would peek through all the clouds. It would take a lot of patience to get there, and a lot of long conversations and phone calls. But when he got there, it was great because you knew that it was honest. and it was genuine. It was a person who was free. Ronnie told me once of the early days of the channel’s history that it was his goal for his animations to be recognized and for him to be influential as an artist. *Moment of slience* And if I were to tell him something right now, I would say, “You did it.” That- that he achieved that goal. That the Game Theory style; and anyone who has ever mimicked the Game Theory style, or anyone who has ever had a show on these channels. That was Ronnie’s style. He was the person who created that. Over the years we’ve had a lot of editors join the team because Lord knows it takes so long to make these episodes. And, more often than not, they say that they were inspired by Ronnie and the work that he had done on the show. So, I hope that at some point deep down he knew the impact that he had and that he had achieved his goal. My one regret is that I never took the opportunity to tell him how proud I was of him. Of how much he had evolved as an artist, of how sophisticated he had become in his own voice and how elaborate his animations had gotten. His work hasn’t just had an impact here on this channel. His work has had an impact on the Internet at large, and I hope… that he saw what we all here saw. That he was an incredibly talented artist from day one, until the day that we lost him. I think it’s just one of those things that your mind gravitates towards in these sorts of situations, right? What you could have done, what you could have said. So I think it really merits mentioning. We’re all really busy, every hour of every day round the clock. But, take the opportunity to tell people what you think. How much you appreciate them, how much you love them, how proud you are of them. Even if that person is really weird in the way that they take their compliments, like Ronnie often was. It’ll stick. It’ll land. And that compliment will really mean a lot. Any way you slice it, Ronnie’s loss is a tragedy. Any loss like this is a tragedy… He was my friend… and he was the person who worked on this channel longer than anyone, second only to Stephanie and I. But, hope that through his tragic loss, there could be some good that comes out of this, that this video and the conversations that ensue in some way start to break down the stigmas around talking about mental health, social anxiety, and suicide. First, and most importantly, remember, you are never alone. Never. Even if it feels like you have no one to talk to. Even if you’re talking to someone and it feels like they can’t say the right thing, it’s okay. It’s about you not having to carry the burden yourself. It’s about you NOT having to go through this alone. Keep talking, keep conversations open, because it is the single most important thing in these sorts of situations. It’s about you being able to give voice to what’s wrong, to what you can only experience without being judged. I know from doing fan meet ups at events, like VidCon, that a lot of you who watch this channel go through these struggles That you’re dealing with social anxiety, with suicidal thoughts, with depression, and what I often hear from you in those stories is that this channel, this community, has helped bring you through the darkest of times, the lowest of lows. A breakup, a loss of a family member, whatever dark thoughts might be circulating through your head and that, is the biggest honor for me to hear, that me nerding out in my closet somehow gave you hope to continue on, to know that you weren’t alone, that your mind processes things differently and that that’s okay, and that other people are out there just like you. But I also recognize that this is a battle that you have to fight every single day, and it’s a battle that you have to WIN every single day. Ronnie fought that battle for a lot of days, and he won for a lot of days But it only takes one loss… So, don’t be ashamed to have your voice be heard, to share your story out there with people who are ready and EAGER to listen to it. The Theorist community is a great place to start, everyone here is so thoughtful and supportive and loving and caring That’s the beauty of social video in general, that it unites people, and at a time when social video and social media are constantly tearing each other apart Let’s remember that it has positive to offer, too. That it can unite people. That it can give people who feel like they have no one to listen to them someone who is there to listen. But, also reach out in real life.
[resources provided in the description] There are countless numbers of services out there available to help you: Suicide hotlines, websites, therapists, people who are trained to help. I’ll include links in the description but just do a Google search, they are there. But most importantly of all, remember that you are important. That you are valued and that you are LOVED by more people than you could ever possibly think of. There’s gonna be a lot more to come on this channel when it comes to honoring Ronnie’s memory. Look out for live streams that are gonna be dedicated for suicide prevention charities. I know that Trailer Drake and Gaijin Goomba and some of the other theorists have things planned to honor Ronnie’s memory. And, in his memory, check out his show: ‘Digressing and Side Questing’. It was always one of my favorites (OUR favourites). Honor his memory by living, most importantly of all, and talking openly and honestly with each other. That’s most important. WE Miss YOU Ronnie. I’ll miss you buddy. I’ll miss you and your lime green shirt and vest that you wore to literally every meeting that we had. Like butter, Ronnie. (From ‘Game Theory: Exposed!’) Like butter. We love you. We miss you Ronnie.
– The Game Theorists and all their supporters

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