Alison Haislip is one of today’s coolest gamer chicks, and she happens to be locally grown… well, close to locally, anyway. I had a chance to ask this Attack of the Show! co-host some questions. Read on to find out about her experiences as the co-host for American Ninja Warrior, some interesting facts about the Japanese crepe trend, what her favorite games are, and how little I actually know about the geography of New Jersey.
I understand that you’ve just returned from Mount Midoriyama in Japan, where you were filming the second American Ninja Warrior. Can you tell me about that?
This past trip marks my 3rd trek to the Land of the Rising Sun, and every time I go back there, I’m more and more impressed by what I see at Mt. Midoriyama. I don’t think many people realize that the entire competition is run in one day! It starts around 9:30am and depending on how far competitors get, it could last until 4:00 or 5:00 IN THE MORNING. While I can’t say how our American Ninjas did this time around, I can say we had a late night. American Ninja Warrior starts airing December 8th, so you’ll have to tune in to see why! I promise our viewers won’t be disappointed.
How did you become the co-host of American Ninja Warrior?
G4 asked me if I wanted to do it, and I said ‘Hells yes!’ Last season, I hosted with G4’s very own Blair Herter, and this year, I’m hosting with Sports Soup’s Matt Iseman and MMA commentator for Bellator’s Jimmy Smith. All these guys have been a dream to work with, which makes the show that much better. But beyond the hosts, it’s really the competitors that make this show. It’s one of the few game shows out there where people come to compete not for any prize (although there’s a HUGE one of $250,000 being offered this season to anyone conquers Mt. Midoriyama), but for the shear opportunity to get to say you did it. To say you ran the actual Ninja Warrior course in Japan. And because of that, the athletes who turn up for this show are the most focused, ego-free people you’ll ever meet. And THAT is really the joy of hosting this show. Although the free trip to Japan doesn’t hurt either.
Did you get a chance to do anything fun in Japan? If so, please elaborate!
It was a super quick trip this time around, but I did get the chance to do some serious shopping and get a crepe. Many people ask me why on earth you would get a crepe in Japan. Well, much like we’re going through a ‘self-serve frozen yogurt’ craze here in the States, Japan is having a ‘crepe’ craze. There are crepe stands that offer over 80 different kinds of crepes. They’re wrapped up like large ice cream cones, so you can eat them while you walk, and you can get everything in them from ice cream, fruit, graham crackers, and even a piece of cheesecake to tuna and lettuce. They make them fresh on the spot and they are delicious, so people need to stop knocking my Japanese crepe cravings.
What else are you working on right now?
My new website, www.alisonhaislip.com, has just been launched, so I’m spending a lot of time with that. I want to get up more original content than I previously had on my old site, and I also want to interact with my fans more. The people who have been on my forum for the past few years have really grown into this awesome, supportive community and I want to give back to that. Beyond that, I’ve got ideas in the works with some friends about creating our own content and potentially even producing a film together. I’ve got my hands in a lot of pots right now.
How did you get your co-host spot on Attack of the Show?
I get asked this question so many times that I feel like I should start making the story up, but the actual tale is so cool, it would be a shame not to share it. I was bartending and this guy who worked in G4’s development department came in for a beer. We started talking and he found out that I played video games. After an hour or so of quizzing me on games to make sure I was legit, he told me I needed to be on the network. I went in for a meeting then a screen test, and then 2 weeks after that, I was hired for my first gig. I seriously had no idea what I was doing, but something about me and the network clicked, and here I am, 3 years later, traveling the world, shooting guns, and describing nut-shots. It’s been a dream.
What’s it like working with everyone at G4? Can you tell us any interesting or funny stories?
The great part about working at G4 is that almost everyone works there because they love the content. Chris Hardwick actually loves tech. Morgan Webb actually plays video games. Blair Herter actually enjoys dressing up in costumes and getting punched in the balls by Wee-Man.
These people have become my friends therefore every day has some sort of interesting or funny story. I’ve watched Blair Herter cry on another man’s shoulder when the Saints made it to the Super Bowl. Kevin Pereira was with me when I finally set up my Xbox and we have since eaten more Chinese food and played more Castle Crashers together than any 2 people should. Chris Hardwick has promised me an entire island of milkshakes. I’m still waiting to collect on that one.
What’s your favorite convention/expo that you’ve gotten to go to since you started working at G4? Did you go to any before you worked there?
Comic Con!!! I get so excited every year when the summer rolls around. I work my friggin’ ass off, but I never have as much fun at a convention as I do at Comic Con. I get to enjoy it as a fan, but I also get to meet a lot of my own fans there. It’s great interacting with our audience because they’re really the reason we do Attack of the Show every day. Comic Con is where we finally get to put a face on a lot of our loyal viewers. Plus, spending 5 days eating and drinking in San Diego is never a bad time.
I never got to go to any of the major conventions before working at G4. I think the biggest convention I went to was a Star Trek convention in the middle of New Jersey when I was 15 years old. G4 has definitely helped up my geek-cred since then.
What was it like presenting at the IndieCade Awards?
The IndieCade Awards were amazing. I was so honored to present the Sublime Experience Award and was really happy I got to be a part of an event that recognizes games that truly need to be recognized. Big blockbuster games are awesome and fun, but I feel like we really find our creativity within the video game design from indie games. From unique gameplay to gorgeous and creative layouts, it’s fantastic to see where gaming can go. You can only hope that these special game designers can move on to have successful careers without ‘The Man’ stifling their voices.
You’re from South Jersey – how much of a change was it for you to adapt to living in LA? (I’m from South Jersey, too – Haddon Township!) Do you ever miss Jersey?
It’s a very common misconception that I’m from South Jersey. I’m not. I went to Voorhees High School, and while Voorhees, NJ is indeed in South Jersey, Voorhees High School is almost 2 hours north of it in Hunterdon County. So technically, I’m from North-Central Jersey. We call the candy you put on top of ice cream ‘sprinkles’, not ‘jimmies’ like you crazy Southern Jersians!
The only difficult part adapting to LA was the lack of seasons. I have since forgotten what it’s like to be cold, so whenever I go back to Jersey for the holidays, I freeze! Plus, I definitely miss the people in Jersey…and the malls. I really miss the malls.
Let’s get into the real questions – what’s your favorite video game, and why? If you can’t pick just one, how about your top five favorite games?
Picking a favorite video game is like picking a favorite child: you love each of them for different reasons.
I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Duck Tails and Contra on the NES. Street Fighter II and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were my favorite stand-up arcade games because I played them every other Friday night with my brother when our mother would take us to Pizza Hut. I’ve loved every single incarnation of Mario Kart. And most recently, my heart belongs to Left 4 Dead 2. Zombie killing FTW!!!
What games are you playing right now?
I know it’s a phone game, but Angry Birds!! I’m addicted!!! Plus I’m up to 164 out of 330 items on Alchemy. I’ve got to get them all! The other day, I combined Coca-cola and a geyser and got Mentos. This game cracks me up.