It's no secret Apple takes a hands off approach when it comes to apps that run afoul of its prudish App Store guidelines. That's something the makers of La Petite Mort learned when their game was bumped from the App Store for crossing over the "excessively objectionable or crude" restriction. The rejection isn't surprising considering the sexual nature of the app, and to be fair, Apple's screeners probably don't want to rock the boat and risk being the person that let a sexual app slip through. Oh, wait. The App Store is loaded with sex-related apps.
Le Petit Mort: It's all about technique, but not on the App Store
The app, called Le Petite Mort, is a game where players move their fingers around their iPhone or iPad screen to create music. Get the finger patterns right and you're rewarded with good music, get the patterns wrong and your song doesn't turn out so well. That doesn't sound like a game that should be banned—except it's about female masturbation and stimulation.
You don't really see any female body parts in the game. Instead, the game uses colored squares that even the most hard core Minecraft players wouldn't call out as the vulva or clitoris. The colors start out cooler, and as you improve your technique they get warmer. Getting your technique down earns positive feedback called experiences (instead of achievements) in the form of musical terms such as agitato, crescendo, and andante.
Then there's the name, Le Petite Mort, which means "the little death" in French—a euphemism for orgasm.
When you put all the pieces together, the object of the game is use your fingers to stimulate a woman to orgasm. Alternately, it's about sliding your fingers around your iPhone display to trigger pleasing music. But really, it's about the sex.
With that in mind, it's easy to see why Le Petit Mort was kicked out of the App Store: it's about sex. Or maybe not, because the App Store is loaded with sex-related apps.
Unless the App Store screening process is arbitrary, we can rule out the gamification of sex because titles like Sexy Touch Game where you answer trivia questions to get women to undress are available*. It can't be because Le Petite Mort teaches female masturbation techniques since Fingering Secrets is available—and that title even includes videos showing exactly how to move your fingers.
So maybe it's about using your iPhone or iPad to represent female genitals, which is something Apple has been uptight about before. In 2014 Apple blocked HappyPlayTime from the App Store because it taught female masturbation techniques with a cartoon character that represented a vulva.
App developer Patrick Jarnfelt told the Guardian Apple's screeners were polite and understanding when they spoke with him, but the issue was out of their hands. "[Apple's screener] told me, ‘Yeah, you and me are French. We understand these things,’" he said. "But they have to reach a broad market, and America, and they have to be family-friendly, so they have just not accepted anything like this. And they put their own kind of threshold on what is crude and not crude, and you cannot even discuss it."
And therein lies the rub: How do you teach techniques that are all about touch without showing where to put your fingers? From Apple's perspective, it seems the answer is you don't.
*Parents: Search the App Store for "spin the bottle" and get ready to freak out.