A ‘PUZZLE fiend’ who owns more than 600 board games has designed dozens of challenges at a new escape room-style experience.

Mike Park, from Culcheth, has landed his dream job as chief games master at Crackit in Bolton.

The 31-year-old designed all 36 challenges at the new puzzle adventure, having previously spent his entire working life in call centres.

He is a man with a passion for puzzles, boasting a collection of more than 600 board games and owning so many that some need to be kept in storage.

Mike said: "A lot of the games come from the UK and Europe, but occasionally I will get some from even further afield.

"It started when I was a small kid - I think board games are better than computer games because of their tactile nature, and you have to physically sit with somebody to play the game rather than it being through a screen.

"It's a much more interesting experience in my opinion, and it's taken years for me to collect all of the board games I own.

"I never in my wildest dreams thought it was possible to get a job designing games and being a games master, but here I am.

"Forget air, earth, fire or water - puzzles are my element."

Crackit - which officially opens tomorrow, Friday -sees teams of up to six players given one hour to complete as many puzzles as they can.

The business' owners got in touch with Mike after spotting him on TV - with the quizzer having previously appeared on game shows including the Chase, 15 to 1, Perfection, Britain's Best Brain and Identity.

Mike added: "I tend not to do very well on game shows, but I do it for fun.

"Some people go to music festivals or sports events, but I apply for game shows - it's a bit of a laugh, and if I happen to win a few grand then that's brilliant."

"The managers saw me on TV back when I was designing puzzles in my spare time, but before this, I had pretty much always worked in call centre - it wasn't the most exciting world to live in, but this is a step up now.

"Crackit is a new breed of puzzle adventure - it's similar to an escape room, but rather than having to solve one puzzle then the next this is more free-form.

"There are a few puzzles which are purely logical, ones where there is a lot of wordplay and one with lasers and mirrors.

"The games focus a lot on the communication between the players - there is a game where one player is blindfolded, and one where they have to pass something through a load of obstacles.

"It's all about working as a team in order to crack the puzzles."

Mike has picked out his five favourite board games from his vast collection:


This is an art-based description game. You get tarot cards and describe them in a way that some people will get which card it is, but not everybody. The art on the game is beautiful, it’s as simple as that.


You try to stay on the board as long as you can and try to knock the other players off. It’s beautifully simple, and almost zen-like when you play. It’s nice and relaxing, although if you’re super competitive like me it doesn’t tend to be as zen-like.


It’s a party game, and it’s great to play with your friends. You have to figure out who in the group is the spy. Everyone else kind of knows where they are in a secret location, and you have to wheedle information out of them.

Colour Brain

This is a quiz game where all the answers are to do with colours. You have colour cards in your hand which you play and make sure you get the right answer.


Imagine Buckaroo with cards. It’s a bit of a dexterity game, and it’s better to play when you’re getting drunk. It’s a party game and its good fun to play.