La Petite Mort is a game about touching a pixelated vulva. There is technically no nudity in the game since everything is rather abstracted, but the general gist was still enough to get the game taken down from the app store. (NSFW warning.)
Developers Lovable Hat Cult created La Petite Mort with the intention of creating an erotic experience that encourages players to savor the sensation of pleasuring someone else. The player can’t just rub the screen quickly to make the vagina orgasm as fast as possible. Instead, the player has to take it slow, paying close attention to how the vagina is reacting to the touch:
For a short while, La Petite Mort did indeed make it onto the iOS app store, passing the review test in a couple of countries. Then, the developers had to update the game, which meant undergoing the review process once more—and that’s when the game got shut down on that platform.
The problem? Everything, basically.
Lovable Hat Cult said they spoke to an european Apple representative, who reportedly told them that the app needed to be more family friendly.
“’For me, and for you as Europeans, we don’t find it objectionable,’ he said. ‘We are probably very open-minded. But the application needs to be available for a very wide audience.’”
Apple also allegedly laid out what Loveable Hat Cult would need to do to get La Petite Mort on the app store:
He went on to explain what would be needed to make the application accepted, which was; the name (he was French and understood the meaning of the “La Petite Mort”, “the little death”), the 20x30 pixeled images should be changed, the sounds should be modified, so well, basically the whole game. ‘You are actually touching a sexual organ in the app. It’s not what you show, but it’s what it is. Even if you are not showing it directly. It’s what is simulated, and that is the issue,’ he concluded. So asking us to basically make a different game is what my takeaway was.
The developers didn’t want to compromise the artistic vision at the heart of La Petite Mort, however, so they have not reworked the game to meet Apple’s so-called standards. Instead, the game is only available on Google Play right now.
Loveable Hat Cult of course understands that Apple has a right to choose what is released on the iOS platform, but to them, the situation is not necessarily black and white.
“First and foremost, the touch devices have become such a prevalent force in our life,” the developers said in an email. “More and more of our life is happening through these devices, and more and more culture is also consumed here.
“Right now there is almost exclusively two powers in play, Apple and Google. Two American profit oriented commercial businesses that stand as gatekeepers of our new media culture. This is problematic for multiple reasons, first, why have we given so much power to these capitalist enterprises to be able to censor art and culture, and secondly, what ethics and morals should they, if any, try to enforce upon the whole world? Right now it is (seen from our perspective) typical American viewpoints that are being enforced in each country, where ‘cutesy’ games about killing and bombing Palestinians is accepted, while being able to address sex is a no-go.”
The situation here is not particularly surprising: Apple has a reputation for being skittish about apps that tackle more serious or controversial subjects—earlier this year, for example, Apple rejected The Binding of Isaac due to violence against children. In this specific case, guidelines for apps on iOS outright tell developers that “If you want to describe sex, write a book or a song, or create a medical app.”
Apple’s stance on sex games still manages to be disappointing however, because La Petite Mort offers something of genuine artistic value in a world that seems to care very little about women’s pleasure. Even talking about it feels a little taboo still: I’ve known people that have never even seen their own vaginas. Hell, I’ve known cis women who have never gotten an orgasm because our sex education is that shitty.
We reached out to Apple about the decision to take down La Petite Mort, but they declined to comment.