Children love video games. Not just the games themselves, but everything associated with them, including the places they're found. One can easily replace the last part in the phrase "like a kid in a candy store" with "arcade." But some kids have taken their fascination with gaming to a whole new level. Like 9-year-old Caine Monroy.
"Caine's Arcade" is a short film about the arcade the young boy has managed to create in his father's auto body shop in East LA during one summer. It's almost entirely built with excess cardboard, copious amounts of packing tape, toys from Caine's personal collection, and a mountain of ingenuity.
In addition to creating the games -- which involves tackling engineering issues that would stupefy someone twice, even three times Caine's age -- the young entrepreneur has even created a security scheme via calculators to ensure his customers don't take advantage of "fun passes" he sells that offer more bang for one's buck than playing games at the normal asking price.
Caine also recycles torn tickets with the help of a stapler and even has his own work attire. The 9-year-old took operating an amusement center very seriously, but due to the lack of foot traffic at his father's store (he does most of his business online these days), Caine's Arcade failed to get the attention that it deserved.
But all that changed when filmmaker Nirvan Mullick came to the auto shop to purchase a car door, and came across the cardboard arcade that the storeowner's son had set up. As Caine's first customer, Mullick was amazed by the young man's spirit and saddened to hear that he was, in fact, Caine's first and only customer.
Mullick decided right then and there to not only chronicle young Caine's achievement via film, but to also make his day by creating a flash mob that would give the arcade the business it so richly deserves.
A homepage has been set up, dedicated to the film, plus there's a Facebook page for the arcade. LA residents are encouraged to stop by and check it out for themselves. Hours and directions can be found there as well. Meanwhile, the homepage is accepting donations to help fund a college scholarship for Caine.
Matthew Hawkins is an NYC-based game journalist who has also written for EGM, GameSetWatch, Gamasutra, Giant Robot and numerous others. He also self-publishes his own game culture zine, is part of Attract Mode, and co-hosts The Fangamer Podcast. You can keep tabs on him via Twitter, or his personal home-base, FORT90.com.