Do we really want this game to be placed behind the gate of parental permission?
HappyPlayTime is a game with a simple mission: it wants to destigmatize female masturbation, and help young women everywhere discover the wonders of self stimulation. Designed by Tina Gong, the game was originally envisioned as an iTunes app. Unfortunately, the app store review committee didn't share Gong's passion for destigmatizing sexuality: due to its content, HappyPlayTime was rejected from the app store; a rejection that was reinforced after an appeal from Gong.
It's understandable that Gong and her supporters would find this frustrating. Inclusion in the iOS App Store has come to be something of a gold standard for mobile apps, and getting rejected can feel a bit like a condemnation of the project and its goals. But it's also entirely possible that, at the end of the day, this rejection is a good thing for Gong and her pro-masturbation app.
Though there are many appealing things about an iOS app that's all about getting autoerotic, there are also plenty of reasons why going the app route can make this sort of product less appealing, and less useful, to the very users its looking to reach.
First and foremost is the issue of privacy. By downloading this sort of app, one is publicly flagging an interest in masturbation to anyone who happens to catch a glimpse at their phone. While that may be totally fine for the enlightened members of society who are happy to let their fap flag fly, not everyone needs the world to know that they're getting busy with Happy the friendly vulva in their spare time.
More importantly, the young women who would most benefit from this game are the ones least likely to be able to access it in iOS app form. iPhones may seem universal these days, but plenty of teenagers don't have access to Apple's pricey smartphones; and the select few who do are often unable to download apps without parental permission. Chances are good that teenage users of HappyPlayTime aren't willing or able to ask a parent to let them download an app that'll teach them how to touch themselves: and even if they were, do we really want this game to be placed behind the gate of parental permission?
Fortunately, there is an easy solution that solves all of the above problems: developing HappyPlayTime (and other, similar games and programs) as a web app. As a mobile-friendly program that's accessible through a phone's web browser, HappyPlayTime could be safely, discreetly accessed by users with no worries of friends, colleagues, or parents getting a hint of what they're up to. And best of all, a web-based app exists completely free from any sort of corporate censorship, with neither Apple nor Android nor any other phone maker able to stop users from accessing it with their phones.
In a perfect world, the App Store would welcome HappyPlayTime with open arms, and no one would be ashamed to have it on their phone, and parents would rejoice when they discovered their daughters downloading it. But in a perfect world, we wouldn't even need HappyPlayTime, because its mission to destigmatize sex would be rendered unnecessary by a society that already accepts sexuality as a healthy, natural part of life.
Our imperfect world, on the other hand, is in desperate need of HappyPlayTime. And while the process of getting it into the hands of the young women who need it may be difficult and indirect, in many ways that makes it all the more important. The forces that make getting HappyPlayTime to users a challenge are the very reasons why it is so necessary. Luckily for the many teenage girls who will benefit from her efforts, Gong isn't planning on letting this setback derail her work – and I, for one, look forward to seeing her succeed.
Image via HappyPlayTime