Every field has celebrities of one stripe or another, and MMOs are no different. Some of them start off as programmers, some start as producers, and some start as commentators that later move into an official capacity. Some have a track record of success, some have a big success and a big failure, and some are considered to be solely at fault for anything that goes wrong in a game. But no matter what the background, they're personalities of note, whose words start having an impact on people even when they're not working on a big project. People listen to them, quote them, and take note of their various projects.
Especially in light of recent personality-based developments, it's certainly worth asking how much people really follow the paths of programmers outside of playing their games. The MMO industry doesn't follow Richard Garriott like mainstream media follows Brad Pitt, but he still finds ways to be seen even when he's between major projects. Do you follow specific people in the gaming industry, either out of liking what they've done or wanting to avoid what they're working on? Or does the practice annoy you, and all you want to focus on is the actual games they produce?