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The name of this blog, “Giant If” comes from an expression of incredulity.

When someone proposes a possibility, but it’s predicated on a highly unlikely event, that’s called a “big if.” A giant if, therefore, is even bigger than a big if. It’s a wild conjecture, an extreme hypothetical, a fantasy, a flight of imagination. An incredible idea, literally– it hardly seems credible. But it’s still possible. A giant if is about something that almost certainly won’t occur, though it might. But maybe that isn’t actually the point. Maybe the point is simply to ask “What if?”

In the imagination, a “What if” is about the counterfactual– that which is not currently a fact in this context. But it might be factual in the future, or in the past, or somewhere else, or for someone else.. Or maybe it doesn’t need to be factual at all, because we’re just playing. Pretending, maybe. Trying out possibilities, alternatives, fantasies, inventions, and creations in your mind. To entertain hypotheticals, thought experiments, points of view.

Stepping into someone else’s shoes– children who role play grow up to be better empathizers. What if I were someone else? How would I think and feel if I were them?

Philosopher C. Thi Nugyen wrote in Games: Agency as Art that playing a game is like “trying on” another form of agency, at least for the time you’re playing the game. Your goals shift to match this different agency- it’s a kind of freedom to step out of your own agency with all of the problems and worries for a little while, and just be someone totally different. What if this agency were mine?  

That’s the power of “what if.” That’s why this site is called “Giant If”– to ask the big questions. Even, if we dare, the GIANT questions.

And maybe, possibly, answer a few.