Programming Blog

Jeremy Morgan

Mostly Coherent Ramblings of a Silicon Forest Software Developer

What We Can Learn From Caine's Arcade

Author: Jeremy Morgan

By now you’ve likely seen the short film by Nirvan Mullick titled “Caine’s Arcade” about 9 year old Caine Monroy and the arcade he created from cardboard boxes in his dad’s parts store, as it has went globally viral in the last week. So what can we as Internet Marketers learn from this kid? A lot.

If you haven’t seen the video, watch it here. It’s the best 10 minutes you’ll spend online all year. The story is very simple: a boy hanging out with his dad at work gets bored and starts creating an arcade, and immerses himself in it. Nobody shows up to the arcade and he has a hard time talking people into playing. One day Nirvan, a Los Angeles filmmaker who appears to know media pretty well, shows up to buy a part for his car and sees this elaborate arcade, and decides to play. Then comes the moment that will change both of their lives.

As Internet Marketers we should all be paying attention very closely here. Here are a few things we can learn from Caine and his story:

1. Never Give Up

This one is fairly obvious, but is a huge part of this story. At first, nobody was showing up at this kid’s arcade. He was begging people to come play and was being ignored. Did he quit? Of course not, he kept building and adding on to it. He acted as if he had hundreds of customers to answer to and kept plugging away at it, adding and changing, even though nobody was there. This kid figured out a secret to success that many adults have yet to grasp. He simply refused to give up and take the easy way out.

2. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes

One thing I noticed right away was this: Caine didn’t talk about how much money he wanted to make. He talked about the differences between plays and fun pass, but he didn’t focus on money or treat it as a goal. He focused on bringing people entertainment and fun. He played the games, improved them and thought about them. Rather than obsess over the money he wanted to make he obsessed over his product. He thought of the customer before anything else and really imagined what they wanted. He’s a younger Steve Jobs, obsessing over every tiny detail of the customer experience.

3. Act as if you’re already successful.

The one thing I noticed was before the flash mob incident Caine was being interviewed about the arcade, and talking about what people playing would say or think. The reality at the time was: there were no people. Caine had it set in his mind that people were going to show up, and worked and innovated as if his arcade were full of customers already. He designed games as if there were a line of people waiting outside to see what he was going to do next (there wasn’t). Yet he didn’t care, he trudged on and kept working on his product

When the crowds showed up, he was ready.

4. Don’t worry about what others may think.

Many kids his age would love to do something like this, but most would be afraid to. I’ll freely admit that at nine years old I wouldn’t have done something like this out of a fear of rejection, or being made fun of for it. Caine didn’t care, no matter what people thought of what he was doing, he continued on doing what he knew was right. If there were detractors he wasn’t deterred by them.

5. Hard work still pays off.

Did you notice the part where his father asks if he wants to go home for the day, as they are coming back from the pizza parlor? Without pause Caine says “no can do”. He’s determined to get back to work on his passion. It’s an amazing thing to see. Couple that with the fact that this kid spent months working and building this thing and waiting for people to show up. That’s an attention span you just don’t see anymore.

6. It’s not about getting rich

When you’re passionate about what you do, money is not the primary goal. When you hear Caine talk about the fun pass you get it: he’s trying to hook you in. He’s trying to entertain you. It’s not about getting $2 instead of $1 its about getting people to try his games and be entertained. When you see the smile on his face as he’s running things you quickly realize this isn’t about the money it’s about passion. Who cares if you get rich when you’re doing what you love?

7. Don’t talk about what you are going to do, just do it.

This kid could have sat around staring at the floor and wishing he would have an arcade someday. He could have told his friends “when I grow up….” but he just couldn’t wait that long. Instead he took a leap and just started DOING what needed to be done. This kind of fearless bold attitude is what separates the talkers from the doers. Caine is obviously a doer.

8. Innovation is essential (and sometimes free).

Caine showed a lot of innovation in his work. He saw that the soccer game was too easy so he changed it to make it harder. He wanted a claw machine so he made one. He created a checksum to validate a fun pass (pure genius by the way) and mostly used his imagination to improve his product. It cost him nothing more than imagination and time.

9. Utilize what you have.

The materials to make Caine’s games were boxes from his dad’s store and other items he found around there, and some of his prizes were his old toys. He took inventory of what he wanted to do, and what he had available to him and made them meet in the middle. Rather than wait for things to happen, he made them happen with what he had.

10. Make no excuses.

This kid wouldn’t have to look far to find reasons to quit. He didn’t have even a single arcade game at his disposal, had very few tools and little budget. He’s just a 9 year old kid from East L.A. who doesn’t appear to come from a rich family (though it appears his father has given him something far more valuable than money) and nobody would question him for a second about giving up. But as we know that wasn’t really an option for him. Rather than find the reasons he couldn’t do something he found ways to do it. Instead of complaining and blaming everyone else for his problems he buckled down and made it happen. Even when nobody showed up he still kept going as if it didn’t matter.

The term “pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps” was made for people like Caine.


It’s amazing how much you can learn from 10 minutes of video, and how much you can be inspired by a 9 year old boy with a dream. Caine has earned fame, appearances and a six figure college fund. He deserves every single bit of it. He showed heart and passion you don’t often see in children or even adults these days. He had a vision and worked to make it happen. He’s got a very bright future ahead of him.

What are you waiting for?