What I Found at Caine’s Arcade, a Few Minutes of Fun

If I’ve learned anything over the last few years its once you finally get someone to view your content, don’t give them a reason to leave.

Well, I’m about to tell you a quick story, but without leaving for a few short minutes it won’t be as meaningful. If you haven’t heard the story about 9-year old Caine Monroy and his cardboard box arcade, stop reading and watch the short video about this amazing young boy spent his summer making an arcade out of cardboard boxes in the storefront of his Dad’s auto parts store.

Caine’s Arcade from Nirvan Mullick on Vimeo.

As part of Dave Wieneke’s graduate Interactive Marketing Fundamentals course at Northeastern University my classmates and I have had the great opportunity to spend time with some of the industry’s creative thinkers. Just before Memorial Day, Dave invited Mari Anne Snow (@SophiaThink) from Sophia Think and Ja-Nae Duane (@TheSunQueen) from Overdrive Interactive into class to speak about the use of social media in the digital marketing environment.

As preparation for class we were asked to watch the video on Caine’s Arcade and as you’ve now seen it is quite the story. Yes, it is emotional and inspiring, but it is also an incredible example of how the right mix of social media can really make a difference in visibility. Of course, anyone and everyone has access to social media tools, but not everyone has a compelling story that really drives audience engagement. Caine’s cardboard box arcade and Nirvan’s social/video savvy have taken Caine’s arcade from a schoolboy’s summer hobby to being a movement on childhood education and innovation.

The 0-2-0-2-o Formula
The key formula, yes there is a formula according to Mary Anne is 02-02-0. That is to start with an offline interaction, in this case Nirvan and Caine meeting for the first time, taking the message online to get amplified and create buzz (start flash mob) and then offline again (Flashmob). This formula is cyclical and one step is just as important as the next, it allows the story to evolve and grow, all the while keeping the audience engaged.

Caine and Nirvan have created a relationship with their audience that is incredibly genuine, trustworthy and 100% authentic. These forceful powers have made Caine’s Arcade such a success that Caine and Nirvan are currently in Cannes France promoting creativity and innovation among children and Caine is now the youngest speaker in history at the Cannes Lion’s Festival!

Thanks to some impeccable timing I was able to visit Caine’s Arcade in East Los Angeles the Saturday after first watching the video. I had a trip planned to visit my family near LA and decided that I couldn’t go all that way without seeing this in person. I made the drive to the industrial section of East LA and found Smart Parts Auto where the Arcade is located. If you are in the area and want to check out the arcade, I recommend checking out Caine’s Arcade on Facebook for their hours.

What I found was exactly what I had pictured. Caine was out front on the sidewalk shooting baskets into his basketball game and some local children were behind the counter acting as volunteers to help Caine operate the arcade. Everyone was smiling, even the people standing in line waiting to play.

Nirvan was close by and I introduced myself; I told him how I learned about the arcade and how impressed I was. I even had my picture taken with Caine and Nirvan. I couldn’t help but have the sense that someday that Fun Pass I bought for $2 would be worth a lot more!

Seeing the arcade and playing the games was just as I imagined. I can’t wait to see what Caine is going to introduce to the world as he grows up and grows his creativity. On my visit, I found art, and friendship…and fun.


Patricia Yuse is a graduate student in digital media at Northeastern University and she’s wrangled online content for several of Boston’s best known radio stations, and she’s available to help on your next digital initiative.



13 Responses to "What I Found at Caine’s Arcade, a Few Minutes of Fun"

  • Mari Anne Snow

    July 6, 2012

    Patricia, I’m handing you an A+

    So glad you made it to see the Arcade, it is such a great example of what can happen when cool people come together and create magic!

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