Written by: Staff Thursday, April 19th, 2012 .
Typically the designers we feature here are adults with child-like sensibilities; but today we’re featuring a young designer who is still officially a kid. At just nine-years-old, Caine Monroy of Los Angeles, California has already received international attention for his creative talents. A short film called “Caine’s Arcade” launched Monroy into internet stardom a little over a week ago. The film, produced by the award winning filmmaker, Nirvan Mullick, documents the elaborate cardboard arcade Caine built in his father’s used auto parts shop and his quest for customers. Since the video was posted to youtube on April 10th, it has already received over two-and-a-half million hits.
As the story goes, Mullick drove up to the East L.A. auto parts shop one day looking for a door handle and found Caine sitting patiently in front of his arcade waiting for customers. Mullick, as it turns out, was Caine’s first customer, but certainly not the last. He was so impressed with Caine’s handy work, that he asked the young boy’s father, George, if he could make a short film about Caine and his cardboard arcade. His father agreed to the film, but pointed out that Mullick was the arcade’s only customer. Putting his social media savvy to work, Mullick created a flashmob event on facebook which ended up on the front page of reddit by the end of the day. The climax of the ten-minute film is the exciting moment when Caine returns to his arcade after lunch with his father to find a large crowd enthusiastically awaiting his return.
The story of “Caine’s Arcade” appeals to viewers on a number of levels. To begin with, his creations are awesome. Out of old shipping boxes, he has fashioned a whole array of games, including a miniature basketball toss and a soccer game in which players must flick a ball past little green army men. When you sink one of the balls, Caine then climbs in through the back of the cardboard box and pushes out a roll of tickets. This little genius has even gone so far as to create a fun-pass system. For two dollars you can purchase a pass worth five hundred plays; but don’t try to scam him because he has devised a unique system to verify your pass that involves the “check mark” (division button) on a calculator.
On another level, viewers have found in “Caine’s Arcade” a reminder that creativity knows no bounds. Something as simple and common as a cardboard box can be transformed into a fantastic arcade game if you let your imagination take hold of it. Caine Monroy has reminded us that it is not the materials at hand that limit us, but our own inability or reluctance to see the creative potential in them. These, of course, are some of the core principles that underlie entertainment design. It seems only natural that a nine-year-old should be the one to illustrate them better than anyone else.