I don't like the character as such. He has that continuously smiling attitude that annoys me very much, but in a way he grows at you and after I had seen some more episodes with him I really began to like them.
So once you get used to him and his attitude, he is not bad and the way he got Nog back on his feet gave the character some - if not that much - more depth, so I think he's alright.
About the setting and the obsession with the program. I know people who spend a lot of their time reenacting historic battles or something like that, so why not? And it works as a distraction from the war.
And about popular culture. There's that bajoran musician coming to the station once, the Ferengi have already been mentioned and I probably find some more examples.