I am a fan of The Instance, which is hosted by Scott Johnson of My Extra life and Randy Deluxe. Several weeks ago, they picked up a third host, not just anyone, but a true blue celebrity, Curt "Bloody Sock" Schilling, pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. I find this an extremely interesting development.
Mr. Schilling is currently working on developing an MMO of his own through the company he founded, 38 Studios. He has hired author R.A Salvatore, artist Todd McFarlane and several of Sony's EQ2 development team. Expectations are high considering the amount of top quality people they have started to acquire, not unlike drafting a world series team.
Now, you can add co host to one of the most popular World of Warcraft podcast to his resume. I find this every interesting. This also wasn't a slow transition, one episode he was being interviewed, which is logical since he dropped EQ2 for the much easier to play WoW, then, boom, the next episode he was in the co host chair.
Once he was in the chair, he slowly started working around to asking questions of the listeners and specifically of the other hosts.
Questions like "What parts of WoW do you like and why"? "What types of quests are your favorite?" What is your most favorite dungeon in WoW ?" "What is your favorite class and why?". Questions that someone developing their own game might ask of players of a game they will most likely be competing against. I'm just suggesting that Curt maybe a lot more cleaver than the average ball player.
He now has access, throught The Instance, to a large WoW audience. He is able to get information about their likes and dislikes. He can then take this information, head back to his developement team and provide ideas on how to compete with WoW. With the other hosts of the show on board, he'll have good playtesters when the time comes to put his yet to be named game into beta.
Now, I might be completely off track. I do like a good conspiracy theory. Or we could be talking about a really smart guy. Listen for yourself and tell me.