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Games for Change festival 'Shoot for the Moon' finalists announced

Finalists for Games for Change festival's Shoot for the Moon Game Design Challenge have been announced and will compete on-stage at the event on April 23 for a $25,000 cash prize, organizers announced today.

The three finalists are Moon Rush by Lunar Rocks, a team from Ohio State University; Rocket Science by Chris Crawford; and SpaceIL Academy by Theorify. Moon Rush requires players to navigate and take pictures of the moon's surface, while Rocket Science is about finding "the ideal balance between engine power and fuel consumption" and using rocket engines. In massively multiplayer adventure game SpaceIL Academy, players take on the role of a recruit training in spaceflight simulations.

Games for Change is a non-profit organization that seeks to catalyze "social impact through digital games." Sponsored by the Schusterman Family Foundation, Shoot for the Moon challenged designers to create a space exploration game that "takes players to the final frontier for SpaceIL, as it competes in the $20 million Google Lunar X Prize." SpaceIL is a non-profit company that hopes to land the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon.

The contest also features a People's Choice Award that allows the public to vote for the winner. Polls are open from now until April 10 on Games for Change's official website.

The 2014 Games for Change festival takes place from April 22 - 24 in New York, where it will feature speakers such as Jenova Chen, Jane McGonigal and Noah Falstein. For the first time in its 11-year run, the event is attached to the Tribeca Film Festival.

Last month, finalists for the Games for Change Awards — which include Papers, Please, SoundSelf and Gone Home — were revealed.