We Love Caine’s Arcade! How A Nine-Year Old Reminded Us to Go Green and Go Play

Photo: (Nirvan Mullick/Vimeo)

Have you seen Caine’s arcade? If not, join the millions of people who have, and prepare to tear up just as much, if not more than you did the first time you saw Mufasa die in “The Lion King.”  Nine-year-old Caine Monroy, who built an elaborate arcade out of recycled cardboard boxes, has something to teach us all about imagination, innovation, eco-friendliness, and making the most out of what we’ve got.

+ WATCH: A short-film about Caine and his arcade.

This is what being a kid is all about.

The last time I visited home, my little brother Nkosi (in-go-see) had a few friends over to play. They spent all day playing video games, and not once went outside or did anything that involved critical thinking or physical activity. After five or six hours sitting in front of the television, Nkosi came to me. “We’re bored,” he mumbled. Excited by the prospect of finally getting him away from his Xbox, I listed as many physically and mentally stimulating activities as I could think of: soccer, checkers, Bop-It, tree-climbing. “Nah,” my brother replied, “Could we just go buy another video game?” Whaaaat?! What happened to “Checkmate!”; to building pillow forts; to making fun instead of buying it? I thought all hope was lost for the younger members of my generation…until I saw Caine.

Caine’s idea of fun is also built around gaming; however, unlike many of the kids I know, Caine is building his own games. Using his youthful imagination and an amazingly mature sense of innovation, he has recreated many of the games one would find in a regular arcade. Soccer games; basketball games; claw games; all of which dispense tickets — fed through holes in boxes by Caine himself. Caine displays business smarts by charging $1 for two plays, but $2 for 500. He demonstrates generosity by giving away his own toys as prizes. And by reusing old cardboard boxes, he has inadvertently become every hippie’s dream child. Heck. He’s everyone’s dream child. Best of all, Caine is just plain adorable. With his one missing front tooth, he reminds us of the days when boxes were our favorite playthings and good fun didn’t necessitate expensive games and a power cord.

Inspired by Caine and in the spirit of Earth Month, it is my goal to unplug my little brother and his friends for a while. In doing so, I hope to remind them of the joys of sunshine and imagination. I encourage y’all to do the same with all of the children in your lives…and even with yourselves, because we’re all children at heart. For a list of fun and environmentally friendly activities for kids, click the action link below. You can also donate to Caine’s college scholarship fund on his website. Imagine what this kid will be building at 18! I wonder if $2 will get me 500 rides on the rocket ship he’ll build one day.

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Eco-Friendly Games!

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