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© Max Höller

Next Level – Festival for Games

New trends and technologies from the art and culture of digital games

Since 2010, the NRW KULTURsekretariat has been showcasing interactive and participatory models of digital games culture with Next Level and illuminating their potential and perspectives, but also their risks. The "Next Level - Festival for Games" has long since established itself as a unique nationwide resonance space for the focused examination of the art and culture of digital games.

After three years each in Cologne, Dortmund and Düsseldorf, the first festival run at the UNESCO World Heritage Site Zollverein in fall 2019 marked the successful start of a multi-year cooperation with the city of Essen and the Zollverein Foundation on the digital transformation, with the involvement of many other partners and funding from the Ministry of Culture NRW.

The next festival edition will present new trends and technologies from the world of gaming with a wide range of exhibitions and installations, experiential courses and performances, workshops and workshops, lectures and discussions from 26 to 28 November 2021.

The program is again aimed at gamers of all ages, players from the games industry, art and culture professionals, media artists, game studies practitioners, journalists, media educators, teachers, parents and children.

The eleventh Next-Level edition and second at Zollverein was scheduled for mid-November 2020, with a new design. However, due to the cultural shutdown in the fall of 2020, the already completely planned festival had to be canceled at short notice, despite a sophisticated safety and hygiene concept.

The plan, with substantial support from the NRW Ministry of Culture, was to significantly expand the festival compared to 2019: with considerably expanded space capacities and a greatly expanded program offering, promoted through a wide range of digital activities.

An interactive course with forward-looking games was planned as the festival center. The performance program was to take up a large amount of space, with multimedia video walks, performative installations and process-oriented, intermedia music performances involving the audience in the artistic design process.

In addition, a symposium was conceived that was to focus on the highly topical issues of digitality, ecology and value with new playful mediation formats.

Possible adoption of individual themes and program points will be included in the festival planning for 2021.