They’re game for their game

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Pokémon GO enthusiasts spent an hour bonding over their infatuation with the nearly month-old iOS and Android-friendly phenomenon. Photos by Tina Garceau

Many individuals have long lauded martial arts as a means to engage in figurative discoveries of talents and temperaments. As the owner of and head instructor at the Martial Arts Hero Factory, 1532 Packer Ave., John McGonigle Sr. prides himself on assisting in the exploration process and helped some of his registrants to experience literal observations Saturday, as learners spent an hour covering Marconi Plaza, 2700 S. Broad St., through his entity’s Pokémon GO Hunt.

“It’s just really cool to play,” eight-year-old Nicky DelBuono Jr. said during the afternoon celebration of the nearly month-old augmented reality game. “I like that it lets me go on little adventures and have fun.”

The resident of the 2800 block of South 15th Street has found himself captivated since the July 6 release date, with the location-based diversion being yet another Pokémon franchise offering for him to adore. Through a smart device’s GPS and camera, the Niantic product allows iOS and Android users, dubbed “trainers” for playing purposes, to capture, battle, and instruct virtual creatures whose screen appearances share the same real-world locations as giddy youths and adults. Having exceeded 100 million download installations, it has surely, despite ample criticism of it as just another mindless escape, come to capture the world’s attention, with the seven assembled children eager to bond and collect efficiency prizes from overseer John McGonigle Jr.

“This is going to be so much fun,” Nicky, with his patriarch beaming over his enthusiasm, said as the occasion commenced. “I like that people from the school are here, too.”

Brother and sister Robert and Julia Bongiovanni and cousin George Squilla joined the Marconi inhabitant and seven-month hero factory presence at the plaza, braving the heat for a chance to strengthen their familial bonds. Already keen on a career as a paleontologist, George will certainly gain valuable exposure to actual life forms, making the gathering a nice variation considering the game’s augmented identity.

“I appreciate all the extra-curricular involvement that they offer,” father Brian Squilla said of the McGonigles. “George became involved right around the beginning of summer, so it’s great to have something to complement what he’s learning just as another way to have fun.”

The Siena Place youngster relied on Robert for pointers, with the DelBuonos explaining that the game’s ultimate goal calls for participants to complete the entries in the Pokémon encyclopedia, the Pokédex, by capturing and “evolving” to obtain the original Pokémon, 151 in all.

“We could be here for a bit,” the elder Squilla quipped.

Perpetually responsive to suggestions on how to infuse his pupils with a greater sense of their connections as learners inside and outside of his space, McGonigle Sr. enjoyed offering the hunt as another chance for them to become even more disciplined and diligent children.

“Today is another day to solidify their friendships and self-esteem,” the 5th Dan said of the excursion. “I decided to put it together a couple weeks ago because Pokémon GO has become this phenomenon.”

The resident of the 1000 block of Carpenter Street started martial arts at age 10. Now 45, the Bella Vista occupant cherishes the lessons acquired along his journey, with the sensei having offered instruction and training through the factory model for 23 years. Seventy-five students across six groups benefit from the McGonigle clan’s expertise, with the family eager to interact with more locals and to be a community benefactor, which it is indeed being through the Providing Resources for Educational Participation initiative by collecting school supplies through Aug. 27.

“It’s a really great pace for these kids to grow,” DelBuono Sr. said as the hour concluded and McGonigle Jr. gave out prizes, with Nicky capturing the Best Dressed Pokémon Trainer title. “This is a great idea, too, to get them outside to enjoy something that’s very current and so much fun.” SPR

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Contact Editor Joseph Myers at jmyers@southphillyreview.com or ext. 124.

Pokémon GO enthusiasts spent an hour bonding over their infatuation with the nearly month-old iOS and Android-friendly phenomenon. Photos by Tina Garceau

Pokémon GO enthusiasts spent an hour bonding over their infatuation with the nearly month-old iOS and Android-friendly phenomenon. Photos by Tina Garceau

Pokémon GO enthusiasts spent an hour bonding over their infatuation with the nearly month-old iOS and Android-friendly phenomenon. Photos by Tina Garceau

Pokémon GO enthusiasts spent an hour bonding over their infatuation with the nearly month-old iOS and Android-friendly phenomenon. Photos by Tina Garceau