What makes us lonely? What connects us? And which games do we play? In the year of the pandemic, the Next Level 2021 exhibition asks how games create community. How do we generate joy and friends, how do we become others, how do we become playful enemies? How do games reflect how we shape the future of our shared spaces? Curators Tobias Kopka (curatomic) and Sebastian Quack (NowPlayThis) explore how games connect us emotionally, competitively, and collaboratively. When do games allow us to become part of something larger that gives meaning and orientation, possibly enabling us to live together better? And when do they show us the way to choose our own approach to a self-determined life, away from prefabricated explanations of reality?

Games & Community - an exploration in six steps

Fri, Nov 26, 9:00 AMHall 12
How do games create community - especially in times of Corona? As the first physical interactive exhibition since the beginning of the pandemic, Next Level 2021 explores what holds us together in our society, in our community, in our democracy, through games.

In This Together - Works from the Now Play This Festival

Fri, Nov 26, 9:00 AMHall 12
As part of a new inter-festival partnership, Next Level is presenting a selection of works from Now Play This, an internationally leading festival of experimental game design and playful art based in London.

Hfs Ernst Busch - Random Acts of Vulnerability

"Random Acts of Vulnerability" by Rodolfo Acosta Castro, Lea Böckmann, Ella Estrella and Zoe Lohmann is an immersive game for four players in four dimensions

Games & Community I: Games of Connection

Games connect us and reject us. We want to feel part of a bigger connected whole, A story, a world, a perspective - And feel pushed out of context when access, entrance and purpose Is not granted. We play games of connection.

Games & Community II: Voice und Vote

Games give us a voice, And we voice our needs, concerns Perspectives and Habits with them. Games play with our voice, our vote, They give visibility to the otherwise unexplored. We play games of vote and voice, Which empower and embolden us, If played successfully.

German Computer Games Award (DCP)

Hall 12
5 award-winning games of the German Computer Game Award will be presented at the Next Level Festival.

German Multimedia Award mb21

Hall 12
3 award-winning games of the German Multimedia Award mb21 will be presented at the Next Level Festival.

GamesFinest Live Studio

GamesFinest brings the festival to your home! Every day from 10:00 a.m. we will broadcast six hours LIVE from the Next Level - Festival for Games 2021 at the UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein in Essen with lots of talks, interviews, gameplay from various games, interesting guests, lots of fun and much more.