Home > Project Endless Possibilities, Virtual Identity > Project Endless Possibilities (6): Vic Michalak

Project Endless Possibilities (6): Vic Michalak

(Yet another installment – no 6 – in Project Endless Possibilities. You can read more about the project as well as find the previous entries here. Also, Stacey Finesmith has been kind enough to answer the extra questions, I’ve added to the project – read all her answers here. )
  • Does your avatar look like or represent your real life self?  Second Life is an extension of First Life in much the same way as any other telecommunications technology such as email or text chat or videos or Facebook.  Of course those who use it know it to be more than any of those technologies or even their sum, but yes, my avatar looks similar to my First Life self (I prefer the term “First Life” to RL “Real Life” because Second Life, as I have explained, IS “real life.”
  • Do you make significant changes to your avatar often?  My avatar looks exactly the same and wears the same clothes (which I wash once in a while – haha) as it did over three years ago.  The last change I made was aviator glasses rather than black-rimmed ones and better pants and shoes (actually a Star Trek outfit – black pants with slight bell bottoms and black shoes).
  • Why have you chosen to have your avatar look like he/she/it does?  My avatar has a relaxed professional look, which befits my First Life look and what I do in Second Life.
  • Do you have a signature look?  Yes, definitely.  Anyone who knows Vic Michalak is able to recognize me immediately.
  • Is it important to you how your avatar looks?  Yes. Vic Michalak looks like Vic Michalak.  Vic looks like someone who represents me in Second Life.  Unless I am at a party (I have dressed in a military uniform for a Navy Ball and as a monster for a fun party and other avatars appropriate to the occasion).
  • Do you have some basics that you always wear (certain color of hair, eyes or …)?  Vic has tanned white skin, blond hair that is not parted but has a slight rise on top and recesses on both sides and blond eyebrows and moustache, wears large lens aviator glasses with gold rims (modified so they have clear lenses), a long-sleeved white dress shirt with a charcoal, sleeveless vest, and black pants and charcoal shoes.
  • What does it mean to you how other avatars look? Do you avoid talking to some avatars because of their appearance?  What others choose as their avatars is their choice.  I have no prejudice against any type of avatar although I find it a bit amusing when I see persons who I feel look totally different than they are in First Life (younger, thinner, taller, sexier – although I understand this allure).  I have friends whose signature avatars are wolves, robots, dragons, and a variety of tinies.  You would be surprised who is behind many avatars that are not your basic People magazine types.  I particularly admire people who dress their avatars to match their native culture.
  • How has your perspective on your avatar and your thoughts about your appearance changed since you first joined Second Life?  One of the first avatars I met nearly four years ago in Second Life was a small dragon.  He turned out to be a very talented computer programmer and game development professor and he and I have done many projects together (although he has changed his own avatar several times).  He suggested to me that Second Life is really an extension of First Life and I have thought of my avatar and this medium in that way ever since.  It was at that time that I decided to create my avatar and leave it that way.  Though I will admit that Vic is taller and thinner than I am in First Life and Vic has not aged a day since 2007 – I cannot say the same of me!  This will become a more interesting experience as I age – will Vic do so as well?
  • Has Second Life influenced your Real Life in any way?  Yes, dramatically.  It is literally opened up the whole world to me.  I was well travelled and had many experiences worldwide before discovering Second Life but my job and family and other commitments forces me to travel much less and Second Life once again enables me to connect with people across the world.  It keeps me sane and opens up so many opportunites for me as well as giving me a valuable niche at my university and an additional tool to use in my classrooms to envision abstract and complex concepts in dynamic 3D.
  • How do you view your avatar? Is it just a tool to be able to navigate SL, is it an aspect of your persona, a virtual representation of you or maybe your best friend?  Vic Michalak is an extension of my persona in nearly every way.  For example, there are more hits for Vic on Google than there are for my First Life name.  I have a greater variety and larger network of associates in Second Life than I do in First Life.  My First Life is extremely busy and rewarding and fulfilling but Second Life adds another dimension to my life, literally and virtually.

Two early shots of Vic Michalak – to the left a newbie shot in noob dress and black glasses, right is later that month, both within a month or so of entering Second Life.  By the second month Vic had the look he does today.

(Photos by Vic Michalak)

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