Next Level
Festival for Games

With Next Level, the NRW KULTURsekretariat has been investigating interactive and participatory models of digital game culture since 2010, shedding light on their potential and perspectives, but also on their risks. Already the first "Next Level Conference" in April 2010 in Cologne not only generated a nationwide media echo, but also shaped and advanced the discourse on the relevance of digital games as cultural assets and cultural technology.

After three years in Cologne from 2010 to 2012 and three more at the Dortmunder U from 2013 to 2015, Next Level moved on to the NRW-Forum Düsseldorf from 2016 to 2018 and was developed from a two-day conference to a four-day festival. Since then, the focus has been on digital experience formats such as interactive installations or dance, theater and music performances, as well as artistically challenging and curated game courses, in addition to informational and discursive components. In 2019, the event will move on to the UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein in Essen.

The "Next Level - Festival for Games" has long since established itself as a nationwide unique resonance space for a focused examination of the art and culture of digital games. Like no other festival, Next Level sheds light on exemplary media art in the games context and brings together in an exciting mix of performances and exhibitions, impulses and discussions, workshops, laboratories and workshops, such diverse target groups as those responsible for art and culture, actors from cultural education and the games industry, but also media artists, journalists, parents, teachers and gamers of all ages.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site Zollverein and the entire Ruhr Area are on a forward-looking path to digital change. This means that an important location for joint dialogue has been found for the coming years. And the event will continue as early as fall 2020: The eleventh edition of the Next Level Festival will take place from November 13 to 15, 2020, for the second time in Essen.

Credit: Jochen Tack

The NRW KULTURsekretariat together with the City of Essen and the Stiftung Zollverein invites you to take a playful look into the future. For three days, the Next Level Festival offers visitors* new trends and technologies from the world of gaming. In addition to innovative games, there will be lectures and discussions on current topics such as sustainability and climate protection, as well as interactive performances and installations at the interface between games and art.

The Next Level - Festival for Games is organized by the NRW KULTURsekretariat in cooperation with the city of Essen. As a sponsor, the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of NRW. Partner is the Stiftung Zollverein, WDR 3 is involved as cultural partner, ticket partner is ticket i/O and recoverApp.


NRW KULTURsekretariat

Christian Esch
Martin Maruschka


Elisa Schulze


Rose Mißbach

Konzeption Performances

Brigitte Muntendorf

Konzeption Konferenz

Jasmin Grimm
Fernanda Parente
Merlin Baum

Konzeption Ausstellung

Maja Hoock

Presse & Marketing

Alain Bieber
Bertram Küster


Studio Es


Philipp Polder

Maximilian Schmitt