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late 14c., "science of optics," from Old French perspective and directly from Medieval Latin perspectiva ars "science of optics," from fem. of perspectivus "of sight, optical" from Latin perspectus "clearly perceived," past participle of perspicere "inspect, look through, look closely at," from per- "through" (see per) + specere "look at" (see scope (n.1)). Sense of "art of drawing objects so as to give appearance of distance or depth" is first found 1590s, influenced by Italian prospettiva, an artists' term. The figurative meaning "mental outlook over time" is first recorded 1762.
In drawing or painting, a way of portraying three dimensions on a flat, two-dimensional surface by suggesting depth or distance.
In computer games, the virtual position from which the human player views the playing area. There are three different perspectives: first person, second person, and third person.
First person perspective: Viewing the world through the eyes of the primary character in three dimensions. e.g. Doom, Quake.
Second person perspective: Viewing the game through a spectator's eyes, in two or three dimensions. Depending on the game, the main character is always in view. e.g. Super Mario Bros., Tomb Raider.
Third person perspective: a point of view which is independent of where characters or playing units are. The gaming world is viewed much as a satellite would view a battlefield. E.g. Warcraft, Command & Conquer.