Computer and Video Games (a.k.a. Computer & Video Games, C&VG, CVG) was the first video games
magazine to be launched in the UK. The first issue went on sale in October 1981, during the early stages of the 'home micro
' boom. For most of its life the magazine was published by EMAP
(who three years earlier had begun their assault on the nation's pocket money
and Smash Hits
), who then sold it in 2001 to Dennis Publishing
(at various times home of Kung Fu
magazine, Your Sinclair
, and Maxim
) when they decided to get out of the games mag business. As of this writing CVG is still published every month, making it perhaps the longest running games magazine
in the world.
CVG was the first magazine to be wholly dedicated to gaming. The few computer magazines available up until this point were primarily aimed at electronics hobbyists, more interested in tinkering around with a soldering iron or coding book-keeping programs than using their 'wonder-machines' for anything as trivial as playing games.
To broaden its appeal, CVG did not limit its coverage to any specific hardware platform (a strategy that goes some way to accounting for its longevity). At the time there were a growing number of (mutually incompatible) home computer platforms, some of which had little or no commercially available games software. CVG attempted to cover all of them, in the early days devoting much space to listings of games written in the various machines' versions of BASIC. Video games consoles (at that time widely considered to be toys) were also covered. Finally, acknowledging that many people didn't have access to a home computer or console yet, CVG also featured arcade games, which were a fixture in many more pubs, snooker halls and chip shops than they are today.
Over the years, CVG built up a reputation for being a reliable (if somewhat tabloid) reviews magazine. Its multiformat nature meant that it seldom carried a software covermount, affording it greater resources for (and conversely, a greater reliance on) investing in experienced writers. The success of CVG in its early years prompted several publishers to focus their efforts on games magazines, some dedicated to single formats (allowing them to offer owners of those machines more in-depth coverage) with others emulating the multiformat approach.
By 1990, the console market had begun to gain some more serious momentum in the UK and abroad, with a growing number of young gamers breaking into the hobby through the cheap 8-bit machines, powerful (initially imported) 16-bit machines and handhelds such as the Nintendo Game Boy. At this time EMAP launched a seperate magazine to cover console games (Mean Machines), allowing them some breathing space to scale back the console coverage in CVG. (Mean Machines would itself split a few years later, into NMS and MMS.) The cross-pollination of highly experienced writers (including Julian Rignall, Ed Lomas, and Richard Leadbetter) between EMAP's various high-circulation mags during this time further enhanced their reputation. (Although it should be noted that the standard of criticism was much more lenient in all games magazines at that time.) Early 1990's games magazines generally harboured mascots and characters, and CVG was no exception, with its long-running Mean Yob persona providing scathing answers to semi-literate readers' enquiries. A strange quirk in the magazine's format meant that for several years the middle sheaf of pages were printed in black on thin yellow paper.
As the decade drew on, EMAP found that it was less able or willing to compete in a market flooded with games magazines from half a dozen rival publishers (the most prolific being Future Publishing, who for a while seemed to be launching new and increasingly short-lived magazines every other week). The PC was the only computer left as a commercially viable games platform, and the Sony PlayStation was, as far as the general public was concerned, the only console. CVG soldiered on with shrinking resources and pagecount, having alienated most of its traditional readership by aiming for a younger audience.
When Dennis Publishing bought up CVG from the dotcom-burnt EMAP in 2001, there were initially hopes that the magazine would regain some of its former glory. Dennis relaunched the magazine with a more up-to-date visual design (CVG is one of the few magazines that still occasionally commissions cover art instead of relying on imagery provided by games publishers), but unfortunately kept the content aimed squarely at the school-age market. CVG now competes with Future Publishing's GamesMaster magazine and nets a readership of around 30,000 (far below the 100,000+ of its heyday). CVG's opinions (now seemingly more hyperbolic than ever) are largely discounted by most gaming enthusiasts.
CVG's website (http://www.computerandvideogames.com/) is worth mentioning, as it is a fairly good games news portal, which carries an online archive of many of the magazine's older reviews (as well as sister mag PC Zone's). Although it's free, it is slightly hampered by a cluttered layout (much like the magazine) and requires registration.
Scans of the first issue: