Film About Boy's Cardboard 'Arcade' Goes Viral

Audie Cornish and Robert Siegel have the story of a 9-year-old in Los Angeles who created an elaborate cardboard arcade and the filmmaker whose short video about him has gone viral.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

I'm Audie Cornish and this is Caine Monroy.

CAINE MONROY: My name is Caine. I'm nine years old. My arcade is called Caine's Arcade. It's open on weekends only and it's really cheap.

CORNISH: Really cheap. Caine's Arcade in East Los Angeles is made of cardboard boxes that he found in his dad's used auto parts store. Just imagine the games you'd find at any beachfront arcade, only made by a nine year old.

SIEGEL: Shoot a basket, win tickets.

CORNISH: Drop the claw, try to grab a prize.

SIEGEL: Cardboard skee ball. The list goes on.

MONROY: My next game I built was a soccer game. First the ball, then it had no goalie. People said it was too easy, so I bought Army goalies. They have blockers. I told - is it easy now? It's pretty hard, so you get two tickets if you make in here.

SIEGEL: And now, thanks to independent filmmaker Nirvan Mullick, hundreds of thousands of people have visited Caine's Arcade. Well, virtually, anyway.

CORNISH: Mullick made a short documentary that's gone viral on the Web after the filmmaker stopped by Caine's father's store looking for a car door handle. He saw the arcade and became its first paying customer.

NIRVAN MULLICK: I asked him how much it was to play and he's like, for one dollar, you get four turns, but for two dollars, you get a fun pass. Like, well, how many turns you get with a fun pass? You get 500 turns for a fun pass. I got a fun pass.

CORNISH: For that price, we would have bought one, too.

SIEGEL: Mullick decided to make the nine-year-old's day by organizing a flash mob to boost business.

MULLICK: All these people came here to play your game. Did you know they were coming?

MONROY: No.

MULLICK: Are you ready to run your arcade?

MONROY: Yeah.

MULLICK: All right. What'd you guys come here to do?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We came to play.

MULLICK: Go ahead. Welcome to Caine's Arcade.

CORNISH: On YouTube, a video of the flash mob playing at young Caine's cardboard arcade has logged more than 400,000 hits.

SIEGEL: Not only that, Mullick has set up a scholarship fund on the website, CainesArcade.com, to help the boy pay for college. The first day the video was online, it raised over $60,000.

CORNISH: Mullick says, when Caine Monroy learned how much money had been donated, in true business fashion, the arcade owner tried to figure out how many fun passes he would have had to sell.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CAINE'S ARCADE")

JULI CROCKETT: (Singing) Oh, Caine's Arcade. Caine's Arcade. Oh, Caine's Arcade. Caine's Arcade. It's the best cardboard arcade ever been made. Ever made. Grab yourself a fun pass and y'all come on down and play. You guys will have to try your luck. Get on down to Caine's Arcade.

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