This year's edition of the "Next Level" games festival, organized by the NRW Culture Secretariat together with the City of Essen and the Zollverein Foundation, will take place on the premises of the Zeche Zollverein from November 28th to December 1st. The tenth "Festival for Games" focuses on the art and culture of digital games. 

The UNESCO World Heritage Site Zollverein will be the home of the Next Level Festival for the next three years, the organizers reveal in the announcement. After nine years in Cologne, Dortmund and Düsseldorf, the "ideal partner for the joint future dialogue on digital change" has now been found.

It's about games in all their facets

The festival offers interactive digital experiences and - mainly in Halls 12 and 6 at the Zollverein World Heritage Site - a wide range of exhibitions and installations, adventure courses and performances, workshops and workshops, lectures and discussions.
The three-day event program is aimed at gamers of all ages, players from the games industry, those responsible for art and culture, media artists - and actors from game studies, as well as media professionals, teachers, parents and children.

The festival offers various hands-on activities, art installations, but also informative offers as well as the opportunity for exchange and networking.
The organizers inform in the announcement:
Course + performance
»BALANCING ACTS« gives visitors the opportunity to think about the design and the experience of balance in a playful way. The game course, curated by Sebastian Quack and scenographically set up by Nina Westerdahl, presents a wide range of games and media in Hall 12: from digital versions of classic balance games to interactive installations for the whole body to critical games in the face of social manipulation and climate change.
The digital performance "THEY" by the artist duo Ubermorgen, in collaboration with students of scenic research at the Ruhr University Bochum, is closely linked to the course. In this live spy-fi adventure, the entire festival audience is actively involved in order to - divided into two groups - record discoveries about the digital environment and communicate with performers and other festival guests via the messaging app. Observing, evaluating and describing one another is the key to success in this fascinating game with your own and your opponent's rules.
Games + installations
The game and object course at the HfS Ernst Busch from Berlin actively involves players in three cooperative games on highly topical topics: the interactive society simulation "MEK KING KRB" offers up to 60 players the opportunity to explore different roles on the subject of "distributive justice" . The installation »SEE / NOT« makes it possible to experience the tension between people who find themselves in existential need on the sea and those on land who rationalize these emergencies. Finally, »BE B: E: R: N: D« takes a multimedia look at the consequences of climate change. 
In addition, students and alumni, such as the Art Academy for Media Cologne (KHM), will present some of their work that uses games and VR as material. The German Multimediapreis mb21 is there again: As in previous years, extraordinary games of the current year will again be playable at Next Level. For fans of retro games, Insert Coins eV from Herne is opening its wonderful collection of video game machines.
Exchange + network
Reach and attention, marketing and game criticism: what can we do together that is successful for all sides? The Grimme Institute and the Mediennetzwerk.NRW invite trade journalists, content creators and game developers to a day-long exchange on Friday, November 29th. Since spring 2019, the newly founded Dortmund Academy for Theater and Digitality has been investigating the possibilities of the performing arts in the digital modern age. The work of this model project is presented at Next Level. In addition, scholarship holders of the Academy will present their current research results to the public for the first time and make new approaches playable and tangible. Also on Friday, the Center For Advanced Internet Studies (CAIS) will dedicate itself to political models in strategy games and the demo scene will present the »Art of Coding« campaign. On Saturday, November 30th, the format "Your 10 Minutes" offers everyone interested an open stage to present their own games, concepts and digital projects. Registrations are possible at

Learning + games
Arts education plays an important role at Next Level. Once again, the festival invites teachers and their school classes to question the entertainment medium computer games, to rediscover them and to develop reflective perspectives on gaming beyond pure consumption. In media educational workshops on the topics of “Lego Level Up” and “Game Reviews with YouTube, Twitch and Co.”, schoolchildren from the age of 14 can experience games in a creative, exciting and instructive way. Due to limited space, please register at Organizer, sponsor & partner Organizer: NRW KULTURsekretariat, together with the city of Essen. Sponsor: Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. Partner: Zollverein Foundation. Event partners: Academy for Theater and Digitality, Center for Advanced Internet Studies (CAIS), Deutscher Multimediapreis mb21, Grimme Institute, Academy for Dramatic Art »Ernst Busch«, Mediennetzwerk.NRW, Scenic Research of the Ruhr University Bochum. Sponsor partner: innogy. Media partner: Art Academy for Media Cologne (KHM). Cultural partner: WDR3. Ticket partner: ticket i / O.
Day tickets for the “Next Level” festival on the premises of the Zeche Zollverein in Essen are available from as little as five euros. All information about the programme, tickets and arrival can be found at

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