James Spahn posted an interesting article about character backgrounds on his site http://halflingsluck.blogspot.com/2017/08/the-white-box-one-sentence-background.html
In a nutshell, players write a one sentence background to help flesh out the character's background and motivation. This idea keeps it simple just as all character creation should be in games like White Box. It gives players an idea about their motivation and also gives the DM some guidance on how to rule on PC actions.
One thing I don't want is another rule or mechanic, and this idea does not do that. I like the open ended feel of it. If a player has a character whose background is farmer would have skills useful in certain situation. Another character who was a scribe may have a knack for doing something else. It doesn't have to be a discrete modifier, but it can certainly help the DM in ruling the outcome.
The idea of the one sentence background is not new. I have seen gaming tips on creating very brief descriptions, even one or two word descriptions for NPCs, villages, dungeon rooms, etc.
I the idea of keeping it simple and wonder to what extant other forum members use this concept?