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Computer Networking FAQ #21
Why Does My Computer Freeze During Game Play?
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Q. "Every time I play games with other people over the network, my computer will freeze up, and then it will restart. Why is this happening?"
A. This can happen if your computer's temperature is too high from heavy processor activity; gaming actually makes a computer hotter than just about any other form of network application. Some gamers recommend removing your system's case and trying that for awhile. It may not eliminate the crashes, but you should be able to play much longer between restarts... if heat is in fact your problem... (See below)
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... . Another source of computer restarts may be the sound system. Try playing with the sound turned off to see if that makes a difference. Your audio drivers may need updating, or the game may simply be incompatible with your audio setup.

The third possibility to consider is excessive memory usage. Perhaps a component of your system has a "leak" that uses up all of the memory, and the operating system will almost always "hang" when it runs out of memory. While you are playing a game, look at the Windows Task Manager (or equivalent on other operating systems) to see if your memory consumption keeps growing. Usage typically increases after booting and when new applications are started, but this should stabilize in a minute or two.

One more possible culprit is the driver for your video card. There may be a "bug" in the video device driver causing the system crash. These problems are difficult to prove conclusively, but the organizations that produce video drivers often make updated versions available for free that fix such problems. You need to determine the make and model of the video card from the specs that came with the system or by searching the manufacturer's Web site.

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