My friend and colleague, Harald Johnson, has just launched the “public beta” of his new photography and game site, called Phoozl. (He made up the name. I had nothing to do with this part. Honest.)
Seriously, this really is a new approach, providing a website destination or portal that houses cool games and other fun activities connected to photos, photography, and other visual arts. Harald is a true entrepreneur and publisher, and his creativity sparks a steady current of ideas. His strong background in photography spans a number of areas.
A quick note: since this is still in beta format, if one web browser gives you hiccups, try another. Firefox seems to work well.
The rest of this interview is in the form of a Q&A:
What sort of games are available on Phoozl?
The current core of Phoozl is the many online “video” games organized in different categories. The total is about 30 at the moment. This list of games, including five “Phoozl-Original” games, will be constantly growing. Games range from puzzles to quizzes to “click mysteries” to “first-person-shooters” and other unique categories.
And what are the “other activities”?
There’s information and learning, too, in the form of Photo IQ quizzes, Photo Tips from photography experts, educational games and “brain-training.”
We will be adding contests, creative challenges, missions, hunts, and “secret events.” And those last things I mentioned will be the true soul of Phoozl.
There is also a PhoozNews blog. A new Community section will be coming online in the near future.
What are the”Secret Events”?
If I tell you all the Secrets… I’ll have to… well, you know. So I can’t tell you. Stay tuned, and check the site!
And you just went live?
Phoozl is live as a “public beta” so now’s the time to test drive it and make suggestions!
How does Phoozl work?
The basics of Phoozl are simple: go the website and hang out. Playing games, reading Photo Tips, Commenting, Reviewing, Phavoriting, etc. Doing basic things like playing a game is free and requires nothing more than your curiosity.
But if you want to get the full Phoozl experience, you are encouraged to Sign Up (again, it’s free). Then you can do a lot more cool stuff. Especially the stuff that’s coming.
Tell me a bit about your background as a photographer and designer.
My background plays right into the creation of Phoozl. I’ve been a pro photographer (commercial and pj), a graphic designer, a creative director and art director, a magazine publisher, a filmmaker, an author of digital printing books, a marketing communications agency owner, and a bunch of things I can’t even remember!
The thread that runs through all these pursuits is creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Especially entrepreneurship. For me, it’s always been about building a business out of whatever I’m doing. A magazine publishing company. An ad agency. An international consulting business. And now, a game and entertainment business. All of these have come out of ideas I’ve had, some whackier or more “out of the box” than others! ;-) And most have been successful. I’m not batting 100%, but pretty close.
What gave you the idea to create Phoozl?
I like to innovate and go into unexplored areas. When I see a problem, a need, or an emptyness, I automatically move toward it and basically jump in with both feet.: “Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”
One day I saw a huge hole open in front of me; a part of photography that I didn’t think was getting enough attention: the “Phun” in Photography. I have no quarrel with the serious side of photography; I’ve lived and experienced it first-hand for decades. But there’s also room for photography’s playful and adventurous side, too. And this led directly to Phoozl.
What kind of team did you need to make Phoozl a reality?
A good question. Even though the idea came out of my head, I have enough experience to know that I can’t do everything (nor do I want to!). It started first with my wife, who I run everything by. Then I went to my old best-friend and buddy, Richard, who happens to be an entertainment attorney in Hollywood. I needed someone to cover my legal back and to give me “wise counsel.”
Then I needed the people to do the things I didn’t know how to do. Specifically, and because I was also creating original games in addition to a website to house them, I needed programmers and coders who were experienced in gaming.
And finally, I decided to create an Advisory Panel that I could run ideas by to double-check me. This is a varied group including a photographer, gamer, educator, Internet entrepreneur, entertainment executive; a real mix of folks.
What challenges stand out in your mind in the creation of Phoozl?
The hardest part was waiting for other people to do the work I was asking them to do, and to not get overly frustrated when things were delayed. And to not throw in the towel completely when things REALLY went south on me. For example, the programmers and coders are basically solo freelancers spread all over. I call them “guys in bedrooms” (even though they’re not all guys) because I can imagine them sitting around in their houses with their laptops doing the work. Sometimes I wouldn’t hear back from someone for a while. Sometimes a LONG while. I was in the middle of an important part of the project with one guy, and he completely disappeared! I mean forever; I’ve never heard from him since. So I had to start that work all over. Talk about frustrating! But I pushed through it. I’ve learned the value of patience. If you knew what my original launch date for Phoozl was, you’d understand!
How do you feel about the result?
I feel great, but remember that this is just the beginning of Phoozl. The recent launch of the website (a “public beta soft launch”) is only Step 1 of a 1,000 steps. Maybe a million! I will be growing Phoozl from now on. Evolving it while listening to what people think and say. I’m actively seeking feedback from people in the photo community about the state of Phoozldom. So make comments and suggestions right away!
Who should be interested in Phoozl?
Anyone who’s a “photo enthusiast”, creatively minded, or visually-oriented person. Skill level doesn’t matter: Pro to amateur. And all ages from 18-80. If you like to have fun (Phun!) and are feeling adventurous or are up for a challenge, make your way over to Phoozl.com to Sign Up and become a “Phoozleer”!
And here’s a challenge to anyone reading this: If you can beat the current High Score (420) for the original game “Get the Shot!”, I’ll promote you and your work on the site. Go ahead, try it. I dare you!