Recently, after roughly one hour of online gaming, my ping jumps from 40 to ~250, which makes the game unplayable. I close out of the game and do a ping test on my computer (start > run > "cmd" > ping -t google.com). normally when I do this test, I get pings ~95ms but after closing out of the high-pinged game, numbers have been between 300-1,000. I also realized that my usb wireless adapter (WUSBF54G) is very hot to the touch, even through the plastic. After my PC idles for about an hour, my ping drops back to ~95ms (in the ping test) but the adapter is still very hot.
Do you think my wireless adapter is overheating or something else?
Also, I previously owned a different Linksys USB wireless adapter that died due to overheating (don't know if this is of any help).
This is a common complaint with USB wireless adapters including Netgear models. As many different brands use the same chipsets it is not surprising that the problem also affects Linksys or your latest model.
I would return the unit as faulty and if you have a desktop computer, consider switching to a PCI adapter. Or if laptop try PCMCIA (also called PC Card).
If out of warranty, you might try some DIY improvements -- like taking the thing apart (avoid touching electronics for fear of static damage) and drilling lots of tiny holes in the case.