Next Level
Festival for Games

Nov 26–28 2021

Next Level Festival 2021

The Next Level - Festival for Games is dedicated to the art and culture of digital games like no other festival. From 26 to 28 November 2021, the event at the unique UNESCO World Heritage Site Zollverein invites you to play sophisticated games and presents new trends and technologies from the world of gaming.

Exciting mix of formats

In an exciting mix of performances and exhibitions, impulses and discussions, workshops, Next Level, together with many partners, is aimed at different target groups who have one thing in common: an interest in games and in gaming at a high level.

Offers for every target group

Next Level is highly successful in bringing together those responsible for the arts and culture and playfully connecting players from the games industry and cultural education, media artists, developers, journalists, pupils, their parents and teachers, as well as gamers of all ages.


Next Level gets active: at the centre of the festival is a large games course that uses appealing and challenging games to make it possible to experience what connects us emotionally and collaboratively: a playful reflection on the possibilities for shaping future social spaces. What makes us lonely? What connects us? How do we generate friends - how do we become playful enemies? And which games do we play in the process?


Next Level focuses on process-oriented, intermedial musical performances that are not performed as "representative works" but practise the idea of artistic production, artistic research and open community. In doing so, the audience is consciously invited to interact and is involved in the production processes in such a way that they become inscribed in the work being created.


Next Level becomes an interactive platform for encounter and discourse. The festival invites experts to the multi-day symposium with workshop character. Exciting programmes, projects and initiatives from NRW, for example on questions of digital formats and thematic fields such as digital dramaturgy and music cultures, will be presented and discussed in playful, experimental formats and in association with partners such as the Academy for Theatre and Digitality - and will open up both practical and cultural-political perspectives.

A broadly based partner network

Next Level's enormous variety of current topics and innovative formats is convincing, above all, thanks to its broad partner network: Next Level is organized by the NRW KULTURsekretariat, together with the city of Essen and in cooperation with the Stiftung Zollverein. The Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and Sparkasse Essen support the event as sponsors. Westenergie AG is participating as a sponsoring partner. Festival partners are Now Play This (London), NEW NOW, the Hfs Hochschule für Künste Ernst Busch, the German Computer Game Prize DCP and the German Multimedia Prize mb21. The Akademie für Theater und Digitalität, the office, CAIS - Center for Advanced Internet Studies, Hellerau - Europäisches Zentrum der Künste, the Regionalverband Ruhr and the Ruhr Museum are among the event partners. Media partners include Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, Mediennetzwerk.NRW, GamesFinest, Gain Magazin, kultur.west, Offguide and WDR3.

We look forward to seeing you at the Next Level! Tickets are available here.