It seems like an old one, but it has been around since 1992, namely the first edition of Over the Edge. In OtE, you build a character not through stats or skills but by identifying traits, like "firefighter" or "merman from Lemuria." Abilities, skills, etc. are all derived from extrapolation from those traits.
Aspects from FATE, Distinctions from Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, and so many other narrativist, low-crunch games took this concept and ran with it. Editor's Note: one could make an argument that the Ghostbusters RPG was really the first to use this mechanism, and that's fair, except there were still stats.
Anyways, the idea of open-ended descriptions of your PC having a rules effect rather than numerical values for stats or skill rankings opened things up a lot for me. For one thing, it got me thinking a lot more about what motivates a PC or NPC, added depth to their personality, and encouraged me to stop number crunching.