Free Time is a terrible name for a Sims game when you think about it. Not only does the series eat up more hours than waiting at the DMV, but its entire raison d’etre is balancing important life goals that consume a big chunk of every Sims’ day. With kids to get through college and dinner an hour late, who has time for pottery?
Hobbies are the centerpiece of the Free Time expansion. They are mostly integrated into other activities. As your Sim plays games, for example, it gains interest in gaming as a hobby. As interest grows, new options become available from subscribing to hobby magazines to blogging about it. Sims with compatible hobbies have new conversation options to make those friendships last.
Some hobbies are easier to get into than others. Your Sim will need to eat, and every meal adds to the cuisine hobby track. So you’ll have lots of tiny chefs in the house. Tinkering will lead to fixing up old cars, but to get there you need to take the chance of breaking the shower or TV as your ten-thumbed character beats on it with a wrench.
Hobbies aren’t necessarily something people do purely for fun. Sims will find it easier to have hobbies that match their career choices. If you need to be in shape to be a police officer, you might as well have a sporty pastime. Instead of making Sims more well-rounded, the hobbies can seem like different ways to push up the job ladder.