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The PLAY - CREATIVE GAMING FESTIVAL invited all enthusiasts for gameculture and interactive arts from October 31 - November 5, 2023, to explore the creative potentials of games in a hybrid form online and on site at JUPITER Hamburg (Mönckebergstraße 2-4). Workshops, exhibitions, shows, the Creative Gaming Awards and playful community formats offered a week of participation, discussion, programming, exploration, and, of course, gaming.

In this year's international exhibition we bursted the bubbles and wanted to discover together how soap operas and digital games find each other. Complex relationships, inner conflicts, wild debates on social questions in never ending short episodes with dramatic cliffhangers.. Lie, live & love in new roles - With AI and other humans in the game or in front of it - It's drama, baby! PLAY once again offered festival visitors a range of experimental and playful formats with which they could interactively experience and explore the different focal points of the topic.



PLAY23 Short Documentary

Relive the festival with this playlist!

Call for Games

Be Part of the Exhibition!

The exhibition is divided into 4 areas this year:
🫧 Core exhibition on the theme "Soap Opera"
⚓ Playful works from Hamburg
🏆 Nominees of the Creative Gaming Award
🦄 YOUNG PLAY: Youth team's section

What can you submit?
Games and playful media works (including alternative controllers, immersive performances, interactive theater) can be submitted to us for the first three areas – Does your work fit the theme? Is it from Hamburg? Does it enable creative freedom?

Creative Gaming Awards
If your work allows players to become creative within or with the work, it can be nominated for the Most Creative Game Award. Additionally, every exhibited work has a chance to win the Audience Award. The selection of nominees will be done by the PLAY and YOUNG PLAY teams by the end of September, and the best projects will then be honored by an expert jury at the festival.

Submissions are open until mid September.

Makers' Corner

Space for Your Tools and Methods!

Do you want to try out a Creative Gaming method with others, practically introduce a new game design tool, conduct a game test, or invite the festival audience to creatively engage with you through play?

No matter whether it's bead design, a game jam, character art, or game development, in our Makers' Corner, you'll get at least an hour and a basic set of technology and materials to carry out your digital or analog interactive offering.


Submissions are possible until mid-September.
You can find the submission guidelines here.

Speakers' Corner

This could be your stage!

The Speakers' Corner is our stage for everyone: Here, on one hand, the game ideas developed during school and festival workshops will be presented at 2:00 PM from November 1st to 3rd. On the other hand, for October 31st and November 4th, anyone who wants to talk about games can secure an available 20-minute slot.


Submissions are possible until mid-September.
You can find the submission guidelines here.

Online? On-site? Hybrid!

PLAY how you like!

Almost all program points can be experienced in the online stream, in the virtual PLAYvalley or at the festival site on the 2nd floor of JUPITER (Mönckebergstraße 2/4, formerly Karstadt Sport)! How can we welcome you to the opening of PLAY23, including the guided tour through this year's exhibition, on October 31 at 12pm?

The PLAYvalley is the digital festival location. Here, all streams can be followed and the on-site festival can be visited through cameras. The exhibition can not only be viewed, but to a large extent also played with directly. It is also a fantastic place to meet the team, the artists and other guests. Just open it in your browser (not on mobile phones/tablets), log in and go exploring alone or with friends! The PLAYvalley is always open.

On the 2nd floor of the Jupiter (Mönckebergstraße 2/4, formerly Karstadt Sport) you will find the complete festival program, consisting of workshops, hands-on activities, lectures and shows as well as the nominees of the Creative Gaming Awards and the exhibition with creative and innovative indiegames, which invite you to play together.

how people were engaging


PLAY is the first and only festival worldwide to unite media art, discourse and education with the culture of digital games. It focuses on the creative utilization of digital games: invent, build, tinker, modify, program, dance, discuss - anything goes!

PLAY is the festival for game enthusiasts and gamers, indie game developers and media artists, pupils and students, teachers and educators, scientists, people involved in the games industry and everyone, who wishes to play and learn with digital games.

PLAY – Creative Gaming Festival took place for the 16th time and is around since 2008. Have a look at the last four festivals:


PLAY23 – Creative Gaming Festival is an event produced by the Initiative Creative Gaming e. V. and jaf – Verein für medienpädagogische Praxis Hamburg e. V.

Funded by Projektfonds Medien und Bildung Hamburg, der BürgerStiftung Hamburg, Gamecity Hamburg, Das Zukunftspaket des Bundesministeriums für Familien, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend and JIZ - Jugendinformationszentrum Hamburg der BSB

Supported by the University of Applied Sciences Hamburg, dem Fonds für kreative Zwischennutzung von der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg und der Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft, KUTI-Spiele, Fundus Theatre | Theatre of Research and Kurzfilm Agentur Hamburg

Sponsored by siebold/hamburg messebau GmbH, OPAK Entertainment Systems and Fritz Kola

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