Jess Cliffe

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Jess A. Cliffe is a video game designer who is best known as the co-creator of the Counter-Strike series, along with Minh Le. He is also the "voice of Counter-Strike" via the radio commands and sound effects and has also worked on maps for Half-Life: Deathmatch.

Jess Cliffe


He attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University from 1999 to 2003.[1]


Before getting involved with the original Counter-Strike, Jess Cliffe was a very active gaming website designer. The earliest known gaming website he founded was Jedi Knight Multiplayer Addon Group (JKMAG) which he founded in December 1997. After around a year of maintaining the website, he moved on to start the website Action Quake2 Map Depot. It was during the time he was involved with this site that he got to know Minh Le as Le was part of the team developing Action Quake 2. Around January 1999, Cliffe also founded the website Silo X devoted to Half-Life maps.

After graduating Cliffe took a job with Valve, where he was employed as a game designer, 3D artist and level designer.[2] However, he was suspended from Valve in early 2018 due to being arrested.[1]

Legal history[edit]

Arrest for sexual exploitation, investigation[edit]

On February 2, 2018 at 1:17 a.m. PST, Cliffe was arrested on allegations of "sexual exploitation of a minor" in the Southwest Precinct of Seattle.[3]

Cliffe allegedly met a girl online via an adult website,, and paid her for a date which became sexual. Cliffe maintained that he thought he was paying a "matchmaking fee" on a dating website for adults. In the encounter, the girl claimed that Cliffe videotaped their encounter "against her will" but that she also "refrained from saying anything." Cliffe denied that he videotaped the encounter.[4][5][6][7] The girl, then 16, told investigators she communicated with Cliffe via text message. According to police, Cliffe told officers he believed the girl was 23 years old, and the teenager also said she wasn't sure he knew she was 16. To make an account on the website, you must enter that you are at least 18 or older in your profile. The case started in May 2017 when the King County Sheriff's Office received a Child Protective Services referral.[3]

The age of consent in Washington State is 16.[8][circular reference]

Plea Deal and Sentencing[edit]

On October 8, 2018, King County Prosecutors offered Cliffe a plea deal which he accepted. The original charge was lowered considerably to "Assault 2nd degree" even though no physical assault took place. This practice, known as "Prosecutorial discretion," is a form of plea bargaining in order to resolve a case in which there are mitigating circumstances instead of going to trial. This plea deal was a form of Alford Plea, whereby a defendant in a criminal case does not admit to the criminal act and asserts innocence.[9][circular reference] Cliffe was sentenced on November 2, 2018 by Judge Julie Spector to 3 months of work release or jail time to begin on January 2, 2019.

Statement from Cliffe on Reddit[edit]

On March 6, 2019, and edited in April 2019, Cliffe wrote on Reddit that he "never recorded this person at all" and passed a polygraph test on this subject. Cliffe was never charged based on this allegation as police did view the contents of his phone and found nothing. He also shared that he was offered "work release" as part of his plea deal instead of jail but since he was suspended by Valve had to instead spend "57 days (less than 2 months) in a minimum security facility in Kent, WA" (the Maleng Regional Justice Center) where he helped out unsupervised around the facility. Cliffe also wrote that "despite a good faith effort on my end to do due diligence, I still got catfished—on a dating website for adults where you have to state that you are over 18." He said the evidence showed "that there was never a sexual quid pro quo, and it pointed to me looking for a long term relationship." In addition, he summarized the situation as "very unfortunate" and warned others to "be very careful with people you meet over the internet, always ask for an ID no matter what, trust but verify, watch out for scammers." [10]


  1. ^ a b McWhertor, Michael (2 February 2018). "Counter-Strike co-creator Jess Cliffe arrested, suspended by Valve". Polygon. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  2. ^ Roland Li (5 September 2017). Good Luck Have Fun: The Rise of eSports. Skyhorse Publishing. p. 12. ISBN 978-1-63450-658-8.
  3. ^ a b "Counter-Strike video game co-creator Jess Cliffe arrested for sexual exploitation of a child". 2018-02-02. Retrieved 2018-02-02.
  4. ^ ""A risk to the community"—Counter-Strike co-creator faces $150K bail post-arrest". Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  5. ^ Staff, KIRO 7 News (3 February 2018). "Prosecutors: Counter-Strike co-creator Jess Cliffe paid teen for sex". Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  6. ^ "Jail Inmate Lookup Service". BA #218003190. Retrieved 2018-02-02.
  7. ^ Montgomery, Blake. "The Co-Creator Of "Counter-Strike" Allegedly". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  8. ^ "Ages of consent in the United States". Wikipedia. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  9. ^ "Alford plea". Wikipedia.
  10. ^ "Reddit User Response". 6 March 2019. Retrieved 2 April 2019.


  • Vargas, Jose Antonio (2005). "Big Games Hunter." The Washington Post. October 25.
  • Wallis, Alistair (2007). "Is Modding Useful?" Game Developer. July 1.