Today I want to show the other face of Ingress, the people behind it. We are all used to interacting with agents over the comm, though most of the time, that GamerTag is all that we know about the agent. Other times, we only care enough to ask who has the chance to upgrade our portal or take care of it for a few days. We all have daily messages about new people adding us to their circles related to Ingress, and they become part of our social network until someday, we can finally meet them. But what about those leaders who live in places distant from our own, who we think we know very well, but from whom we honestly only know from the game. I decided to create this series to get to know a little bit more about them. I want to introduce you to a local faction leader, known to many for her postings in social networks, and most recently her #throughglass post, showing ¨the world around her.” She has been under the spotlight practically since the beginning of Ingress.
Name: Linda Besh
Location: Plymouth, Michigan
Her goals: To look for kindred spirits to build fellowship and play Ingress with.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Linda moved to Detroit because of her father´s work before she started High School. She is the mother of two girls who are 23 and 24 years old. She acknowledges being a private person until she got her Ingress invite only one day after she applied for it. That’s when everything changed. She went from working at an office and heading home to watch The Big Bang Theory to a faction leader who is now a very public person. After posting a picture of her first field art (a giant Pac Man eating enlightened portals) to G+, she saw that other people might enjoy her ideas and creativity and became a little bit addicted to G+. She is also well known for a video she uploaded of her upgrading and recharging Portals during a 40 below blizzard.
She had her first meet up at Detroit’s well known Pints and Portals Resistance meetup. “Despite my daughters’ objections about a woman my age going out to meet people at a bar, I decided at the last minute to attend anyway.” The players were surprised to see a woman over her 30s. Ever since, she has explored a new side of herself, she has been pushed to make changes to her routine, and she has gladly made them.
Aside from her office work, she started working with abused women in an attempt to help them in any way she could. Surprisingly when she started hanging out with female players she recognized the same patterns in some of them, “I’ve found women that use Ingress as an excuse to get out of abusive households and escape for a bit, and I’ve met people that are experiencing health improvements due to the exercise the game makes them do.
I see ingress as a way of life, not just a game. These experiences are more prevalent than people and even the Developers realize.”
The game has a funny side for her too: She frequently has to look goofy and plaster herself up against a wall to be able to hack a portal like when she did it inside a local post office during rush hour. Linda has also flown on a helicopter to get a portal, sadly the pilot didn’t slow down enough for the Portal to be hacked. She also stayed up all night for the grind to Level 8.
When I asked Linda about Links Across America tears came to her eyes, at this point we were able to see that not only what a caring person she is, but sensitive as well. She didn’t want to take credit for this amazing accomplishment, so she decided to skip recording a video for the Ingress Report.
“I feel that I have gotten too much credit for it and I want the other people to be recognized. I just wish that all of the people involved could get together for a big party and celebrate.”
As she describes how the idea took form, and the many problems all the agents found, her expression changes, she turns thoughtful, then describes how the portal keys, eventually, started to pour in. They were transported from agent to agent all across the United States, there were desertions and many agents told her that it wouldn’t be possible, and she agreed.
It was a huge undertaking but she said to herself she would have done her quadrant all by herself if she had to. She drove a total of 800 miles that day, with many things to overcome. They found no signal around the last portal and, waited along with other agents several hours in a Walmart parking lot to exchange that last key with an agent that would never appear. They were close to giving up when the link was broken by another player (maybe unaware of the operation). The last portal wouldn’t have been possible without his or her anonymous cooperation and, the entire operation would have failed. She decided to take a different path and drove all night and even ended up sleeping in the back seat of her car under a memorial portal.
She was worried about being evicted by the Park Rangers but, it turned out that the Ranger was a fellow Resistance agent!!! It all came together in the end and she was even brought back to the no signal portal that had given her trouble the day before. It’s easy to look back and laugh because we all know the end of this operation was a complete success. But at the time it was quite a trial.
Despite Joe Philley’s beliefs that she has the Midas touch with agents, she insists that she is not
dropping M&Ms or ice cream behind her to attract followers, but that she is passionate about Ingress and people can feel it. All I can say is that I fell in love with Ingress all over again after talking to her. She is willing to be up until 2 am for someone in need, but sleep deprivation is cutting into her life so hard that she’s considering becoming a nun to have more time for people and play.
Now, when talking about Faction choice, she gives some wonderful tips for all of us.
“If you believe that Humans need help and assistance to evolve and would benefit from that assistance, and that Enlightened portals could let something good through…then Enlightenment is for you. If you believe that Humans should evolve naturally and remain pure…Resistance.”
“Also, if you want to play with friends, make sure they pick the same side as you, or pick the side they are on if you really want to be able to play with them. I have a close friend that I cannot play the game with because she chose Enlightenment based solely on back-story. Some say pick the Faction that is losing in your area to gain AP faster but really AP gain is dependent on how many hours you put in and how many people help you.”
Linda likes the leadership role but wants other people to have their chance at it as well. She approaches it with a “hands off” philosophy, putting her needs out there and letting people volunteer for them. She feels that if you command people, you don’t always get the best results, and prefers seeing people fill roles on their own.
Linda also loves going to Art shows and Fairs to interact with the artists behind the art, and I must say, she is probably looking for her next portal.