Boyle Heights

Boy Who Created Viral Cardboard Arcade Still Dreaming

Caine Monroy became famous for his creativity at the age of nine, but the 14-year-old high school freshman has never stopped learning and imagining.

Imagination is how he created Caine’s arcade, arcade-style games made out of his cardboard nestled in a corner of his father’s auto parts shop in Boyle Heights.

Five years ago, Nirvan Mullick became the first Caine’s Arcade customer. The filmmaker put together a flash mob to get more people through the door.

NBC4 was there. We were one of the first to chat with the then 9-year-old Caine just as the viral moment turned into a movement.

Attention from the viral video led to the birth of, which now supports 130 chapters in schools for weekly entrepreneur and creativity sessions.

“We’re launching a pilot to bring Imagination chapters to children in refugee camps,” Mullick said.

In the meantime, Caine continues to be invited to do more talks around the world.

Remnants of the past at the auto shop remain. The “boss” retired from running the arcade when he was 11. He has big dreams. From that initial campaign, more than $240,000 has been raised for Caine to go to college. He says he wants to be an engineer.

“He’s become this articulate young man who continues to inspire kids around the world,” Mullick said.

He also shows that as things may change, imagination and the love for creating do not.

“It’s just amazing how everybody just started doing more things now, using imagination,” Caine said.

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