Developed into a short film by filmmaker Nirvan Mullick, the story of a 9-year-old boy named Caine Monroy and his homemade cardboard arcade is quickly becoming a viral hit on YouTube and Vimeo. Spending weekends hanging out with his father at a family-owned auto parts store in East L.A., Caine built an entire arcade using cardboard and an incredibly imaginative mind. Using brown boxes, clear packing tape, plastic and other inexpensive parts donated by his father, Caine built his own prize wall, ticket booth, mini-soccer game, mini-basketball game and a fully functioning claw machine. Each arcade creation even has a ticket dispenser that “feeds” out tickets when Caine crawls into the bottom of box and pushes them out to the winners.
After Mullick just happened to stop at the shop to search for a car part, he became the first customer at the aptly named Caine’s Arcade. Caine gave Mullick the option of buying four turns for $1 or a $2 “fun pass” that expires in one month. Mullick opted for the latter as the “fun pass” gets 500 turns. Caine even devised his own security method to make sure people couldn’t forge a fun pass by using calculators taped to each “machine” and writing on the back of the pass. On weekends, Caine wears his official “Caine’s Arcade” shirt with the word “Staff” on the front and sits out front in an outdoor camping chair waiting for customers to come play the arcade games.
After getting permission from Caine’s father, Mullick started shooting the film about Caine’s Arcade and offered to generate community interest in the imaginative cardboard creations. Expanding recruitment though social media, Mullick used Facebook to create an event page designed to bring a flash mob to Caine’s Arcade on October 2, 2011. The event was also posted on Hidden L.A., a Facebook page that highlights lesser known events within Los Angeles and has over 200,000 fans. After Hidden L.A. drew attention to Caine’s Arcade, the post attracted the local NBC News affiliate as well as the Reddit community.
Since Caine was purposely kept in the dark regarding the incoming flash mob, Caine’s father took him to Shakey’s Pizza while the flash mob arrived at the store. Members of the flash mob created colorful signs for the event and chanted “We want to play!” when Caine returned to the auto parts store. A surprised and somewhat speechless Caine finally got to run his arcade for a huge crowd of interested people. After the event, Caine told his father “This was the best day of my whole life!“
After the video started gaining some steam on the Web today, the amount of money donated to Caine’s future college education has risen significantly. Included on the official Caine’s Arcade site, the public has donated over $50,000 through Paypal since the video went live on YouTube and Vimeo. Presumably in charge of collecting the donations on the main site, Mullick is using the Caine’s Arcade Facebook page to locate an attorney local to the Los Angeles area that can set up a trust fund for Caine’s Scholarship Fund. According to the main site, the goal is to fund Caine’s future education for a possible engineering degree.