Sunderland is seldom mentioned anywhere outside of the city itself, so when I heard that there was a horror game set in our very own Park Lane bus station I had to find out more.

I had the chance to have a quick word via email with the game’s creator Joseph Whitehead and this is what he had to say about the experience of developing Park Lane and some of his thinking behind it.

What inspired you to make a game about Park Lane bus station? Was there a particular event you experienced that led to the game idea?

“I’m a big fan of the Liminal Spaces Subreddit, there's something eerie about the photos posted, like there's something missing, and in most cases I find that the missing element is people. Places that we’re used to seeing full of people, being empty, is strangely uncomfortable. I also find there's something creepy about places that look familiar, especially when these places aren’t quite right, somewhat similar to the uncanny valley effect. I’ve spent a lot of time waiting for the metro in Park Lane, so it seemed fitting to set a horror game there, using these tropes to my advantage to create an unnerving atmosphere. There was no particular event, but I’ve definitely spent a lot of time standing in Park Lane thinking about how I could turn it into a horror game.”

I read that this was made in 48 hours for a game jam. Was there anything particularly challenging in the development? Or anything you’re really proud of achieving in such a short time?

“Making a game in 48 hours is always a challenge, since you don’t really have time to experiment with ideas and see what works with the jams theme, especially when working by yourself. That being said, it’s a challenge that I really enjoy since it gives me the opportunity to test my progress as a developer and to work on the areas where I’m lacking. There’s a lot I wish I could have changed in Park Lanes gameplay, but overall I’m really happy with what I produced, especially since I got first place for audio and third for graphics in the jam, which I wasn’t expecting at all. I always find the art element of game jams to be the most challenging , since I’m far from an artist, but with the help of some low res shaders and some lighting my artwork ended up (at least in my opinion) looking pretty good.”

Did you create the game area from memory?

“The game was made mostly from memory, with a few photographs as reference to help me get the wall panels and platform looking as close as possible to the real thing. Obviously, I had to make some omissions and take some shortcuts due to the 48 hour time constraint, so there are some pretty glaring inaccuracies that anyone familiar with the station will spot, such as the ticket machine being on the platform and there being no exit. The announcements also say the next station rather than the final destination, but that was (partially) my way of giving Sunderland a shout out by name.”

Do you have any other plans for games based on lesser known north east landmarks?

“I don’t have any plans right now, but since I’ve had such a great response to Park Lane, making something else set in the North East or even expanding on Park Lane is definitely something I’d like to do in the future. I’d especially love to make something set in my home town of Seaham too, maybe something that explores some local history or some spooky stories.”

And are you currently working on anything you’re able to plug? Or are there any other works you’ve been involved with that you’d like to spotlight?

“Aside from making small games during my weekends, I also work as a gameplay programmer at Wolf and Wood Interactive in Gateshead. Right now we’re working on our latest game, ‘The Last Worker,’ with Oiffy and Wired Productions, which is coming to PS5, Xbox series X/S, Oculus, PC and Switch later this year. The game is a first person narrative adventure, centered around our struggle in an increasingly automated world and features some amazing voice performances from some big name actors such as Jason Isaacs, Zelda Williams and Ólafur Darri Ólafsson. We just demoed the game at PAX East in Boston and got a bunch of positive feedback from players and press, so we’re really looking forward to shipping the game and seeing what people think.”

Joseph’s Park Lane is available on for free now if anyone wants to check it out: 

And you can follow our own gaming exploits on our official Nerdy Up North Twitch channel here: